Here's what makes Apple's battery case so 'smart'

Because of the enormous amount of attention paid to the visual design of Apple's new Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6s, a lot about its functional design has been overlooked. Including by yours truly. Though the actual battery inside the case is smaller than many other, similar cases, the "smarts" Apple built into it the battery case means it's also much more efficient.

  1. The coupled passive antenna helps maintain better signal. The better the signal, the less power the radio draws. (If you've ever seen your signal drop and your iPhone get really hot when in a case, you're basically throwing away the extra charge.)
  2. Your iPhone knows when it's connected to the case rather than a plug so it's smart enough not to start any backups, networking, background tasks, "always listening" Siri on iPhone 6, or other processes that cause excessive drain. In other words, your iPhone stays as power efficient in the case as it does out.
  3. If you plug the case in, though, it's also smart enough to open up all those power-hungry processes.
  4. The case prioritizes keeping your iPhone charged at all times, so you never have to worry about whether or not you have the best power level possible, or that you're unnecessarily racing through your battery's charging cycles. You just put it on and use it as needed, and it just works.
  5. Both the lock screen when you first plug into the case, and notification center whenever you pull it down, tell your precisely how much charge is left in your iPhone and in your case, so you make informed decisions about how much you use them and when.

There are some other benefits as well, including the one-piece design, and some drawbacks, including the narrow headphone jack. See my Smart Battery Case for iPhone review for more.

Not all of the power-saving points will be ideal for every iPhone owner, either.

Some people might want full-on backup, background, and networking activity when using a case. It might be exactly why they bought a case.

Likewise, some might want to be able to turn the case on or off independently whenever they like and for any reason they like.

Cases that allow for exactly those things are, of course, already abundantly available. The Smart Battery case tries to solve the same problem in a different way—admittedly a way only available to Apple.

While big batteries look impressive, the weight and bulk comes with a usability cost. If they're too heavy or too bulky—and every atom makes a difference—you may stop using them or stop using your iPhones while they're in them.

By keeping the Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6s light, and making it smart, Apple's offering an alternative for people who just want some extra battery life. Not all the time, but for when they'll be using their iPhones more heavily than usual or for when they'll be away from power for longer than usual.

If you hate the case, you can absolutely keep hating it. If you hate the people who don't hate the case, I guess you can keep doing that too. But, once you understand the functionality, like with the design, at least you can hate smarter.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

106 Comments
  • Rene, this is probably a really stupid question. I have a paper-thin Spigen case on my 6s iPhone (and use external batteries). My current case fits like a glove that it probably would last a repeated removal to for the occasional battery case use. In your opinion, is there any "slop" that would allow my current case to fit within the Apple case?
  • No, sadly I don't think so.
  • If the apple logo wasn't on this and it wasn't made by Apple would you give such praise? Or if praise isn't the word then would you point out all the "features of it?
    If Samsung had made something like this for the S6 what would you write then? Genuine questions. Sent from the iMore App
  • I think we both know the answer to that question.
  • Why would he write something for the S6 if Samsung made it? This is an Apple site. Genuine question.
  • If Samsung had released something similar we would have had a few "Time to switch to iPhone" articles by now...
  • Or an article titled, "Samsung has such awful battery life, they need a hideous battery case to last the day, why you should choose iPhone" lol
  • LOL OR THEY COULD TOTALLY JUST LIKE YOU KNOW TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT BATTERIES AND SAY THEY BOTH SUCK DON'T BUY EITHER LOL YA KNOW LOL LIKE TOTALLY AT LEAST SAMSUNG OFFERS QUICK CHARGING LOL OH YEAH AND WIRELESS CHARGING LOL
  • Kinda would be a long title though, don't you think ? Sent from the iMore App
  • He writes about Samsung constantly... Are you new? (or are you Rene using an alias...) Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • And what is your job? Whatever it may be, do you advertise for competitors?
    Sone people act like this is a unbiased tech site. Its an apple fan site, and if apple went down the crapper the site will always be pro apple. Not sure what some of you expect. Sent from the iMore App
  • We expect the same level of professionalism than on the sister site, Android Central not this Apple apologetic clown show. If Samsung or HTC puts out a product that deserves criticism or is not up to par, AC guys will be sure to criticize it. Over here, if apple puts its logo on a chewed gum and calls it the new iPhone 8, this guy will still write 12 articles trying to justify why its a good product and you'll be sure to defend him. if you admit it's a biased tech side, then what's the purpose of it? so you all huddle around and praise each other based on biased misinformation? Just because it's a fan site doesn't mean it has to be a propaganda machine.
  • And if samsung or htc make a product for apple im willing to bet imore will criticize the heck out of it, lol whats your point? Those companies arent android just as they arent apple Sent from the iMore App
  • *blink* ... *blink* ....
    1. Please make sure your comments are understandable
    2. I'm going to guess what you meant to say...
    "If Samsung or HTC made a product for Apple, iMore will probably criticize it. They aren't the same thing as Android in the same way as they aren't the same thing as Apple."
    To that I say, of course iMore will probably criticize it. Thank you for proving XperlmnenT's point. iMore exists solely to give all credits to Apple first - if anything else is deemed worthy, they MIGHT consider giving credits.
    And no, Samsung and HTC aren't Android in the same sense as they are Apple. At all. Because they don't contribute to Apple. At all. They contribute to Android. So yes, they are Android. Because they make Android products.
  • Are you on something when you typed that? That made little to no sense at all, no, i meant exactly what i put down before that.
    He said ac will criticize products made by other companies besides google. My sarcastic point was, so would imore. Meaning his point wasnt exactly what the original topic was. Sent from the iMore App
  • Well, I had seen some article by Rene that touch on Samsung about Galaxy S6 design (critic about the speaker hole alignment and others port). And I also seen articles from him that spreading "switch to iPhone" message because of inaccurate understanding of some security explode on Android OS, but when come to iOS security explode he wrote a "why you shouldn't worry" articles... how hypocrite this is.
  • It would get bashed and called horrific. This is incredibly predictable. THATS why iPhone users are hard to take serious. There's no rationality to it. It is what it looks like. Pure blind biased brand loyalty.
  • "THATS why iPhone users are hard to take serious." A to the men. I'm glad I'm not the only one that sees this. It still baffles me how many people just blindly follow and agree with everything said. The bias is ridiculous. Sent from the iMore App
  • If the Apple logo wasn't on it, and it wasn't made by Apple, it wouldn't have some of the features it does. There is not 1 other case that does everything this case does, and, yet, that is 100% because of Apple and it's control. I read this article and all I see is points that I, having visited an Apple Store and tried the case out on my iPhone, know about from talking with the guy working in the store. Things that every comment that says "brand X offer more batter power for the same/less" fail to mention. And, as Rene said, "If you hate the case, you can absolutely keep hating it. If you hate the people who don't hate the case, I guess you can keep doing that too."
  • I usually respect your opinions but the pandering is becoming quite sad
  • This is clearly sponsored content. Action School News and Jimmy would disapprove Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Rene, I have seen you defending Apple's proposed idea to get rid of 3.5 mm jack and further slimming down the iPhone and now I am again seeing you defending a battery case which completely destroys the look and feel of the iPhone. Don't you ever feel to think from the consumer's endpoint sometimes and provide unbiased reviews.
  • All cases destroy the look and feel of the iphone.
  • There is always a spectrum of how much a case takes away look and feel...I've seen some nice looking iphone cases...this one is at the ugly/cheap extreme of the spectrum.
  • but somehow we settle on a case/battery case which complements the design/look-n-feel of the iphone apart from doing what is expected out of it, isn't it? Can we say that about this case? Obviously not.
  • Like it or not, the headphone jack is going to go away on all phones eventually, probably all things. Its old tech and takes up more room than it needs. Harldly apples idea, question is just whos gonna do it first Sent from the iMore App
  • That would be a real stupid move. A lot of people still use that.
  • A lot of people still use a lot of tech things that phase out, thats how technology is.
    If we dont push it out, new better things will never become the new standard.
    If we dont push out the current usb, the new better usb-c cant become standard.
    Its going to happen, and someone will do it first. Sent from the iMore App
  • Scenario: Apple isn't the first to do it (because, let's be honest, that's probably going to be the right scenario.)
    1. Everybody will bash on the company that does do away with it first.
    2. More companies will get rid of the headphone jack.
    3. Those companies will be bashed
    4. Apple gets rid of the headphone jack
    5. Everybody says the other companies copied Apple and that Apple is so brilliant for getting rid of the headphone jack
  • I agree with the consensus here. Apple clearly made an ugly product and one that goes against their style mantra, yet we still get the "This really is better than you think it is" defense. I usually refrain from posting these types of comments, but Rene, enough is enough. This battery case is poorly designed and completely unnecessary given the plethora of battery cases, and you know it. I'm beginning to see why Apple product owners (I'm one of them, for the record) get labeled fanboys so often. The pandering has to stop. Personally, I don't give a crap if my battery case is "smart" or "dumb as a rock." As long as it keeps my phone charged when I need juice, I'm good.
  • I call Apple product owners fanboys because they say "I'm saving up for an iPhone" and then they finally do buy the iPhone and then they say that they're disappointed in the phone but they don't admit it to themselves because they paid all this money on it. Then, they say they can't do anything because they don't have money and I remind them they spent too much money on the iPhone and they say realize I'm right. Then 2 months later they say "I'm saving up for an iPhone" because their iPhone broke. Or the next iPhone is getting something that I already have and they really want it.
  • Are you 10!
  • I think you have to be drunk to understand your comments, lol How do they say they disappointed and not admit it? And how is that different from spending the same price on another non apple phone? I think thats all i could make out of your comment Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm drunk, and it's not helping...Maybe acid or heroin is needed...
  • I don't understand why everyone is hating on this case. I tried it on at apple and it is not that bad looking.
    This case is directed at those who would normally spend $99-$149 on a hard slippery plastic 2 piece breakable Mophie case. NO ONE ELSE. This case is 100X better than anything Mophie has released for the iPhone.
    It doesn't cut down cell signal. It doesn't use cheap junk Micro USB like Mophie. It feels Great on the hand compared to the Mophie.
    No one would buy this case if they didn't NEED the extra battery life. People buy Mophie because the NEED extra battery life. I would buy this over ANYTHING mophie has on the market and that IS its intended customer.
    Go to apple and try it one. its not as bad as you think.
  • USB isn't cheap haha. It's a horrible case. If you want to be the sucker to buy this then good for you Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • So you think everyone that needs a battery case is a sucker? idiotic comment.
    Hey DravenX, Pirate Arr thinks you are a sucker for buying that mophie.
    I make it thru the day with 30-40% left at the end of the day. I don't want or need Any case on my phone.
    I bought a mophie a few years ago and the cheap USB port in the bottom broke within 90 days.
    it's not more horrible 2" thick mophie.
  • Micro usb is as cheap as it gets, haha Sent from the iMore App
  • Fail!
    You need to edit your post. This case is aimed at ANYONE that has the money/credit and wants it. Even if you currently have a soft case it’s still aimed at you. If you have no case at all, it’s aimed at you. If you already have an Apple Hump case it’s still aimed at you to get an additional one.
    Whatever your needs, it’s aimed at you. Apple want your money, and this is the atrocity they have released to get it.
    PERIOD. Seen it, and it’s as bad as I thought.
  • Totally agree... Sent from the iMore App
  • lol you iSheep fall into Apples trap every year. Do you really think Mophie CHOSE to use micro-usb on a device that uses a totally different port?? Apple doesnt ALLOW other manufacturers to use the lightning port among other things. You're pretty much throwing money at the same company that made your life more difficult lol. At what point will Apple users realize that Apple intentionally deprives its users and accessory manufacturers to create a demand for their own products? While you guys are shoveling money at the same company, year after year, for fixing the very problems they intentionally created, (small screen, new ports) the rest of the world has been enjoying standards and ultra compatibility for half a decade. Do people really keep biting into Apples game?? At some point I would think consumers would catch on to Apples "could have, but intentionally didnt, so we could sell them a new product again" game. Whoop-dee doo, you now have a case that uses the same port as your phone. Seriously? This is a bonus for Apple users? The rest of the world hasnt ever had this problem because their phone manufacturer isnt obsessed with profit seeking proprietary nonsense.
  • Good thing I can buy parts at the closer Chevy dealer for my Ford. Or a remote from Samsung for my Sony. What planet are some of you from?
  • I have a mophie case for my 6S and it's great. Except I did notice that the battery notification area is no longer there.
  • Dude...after this many articles you'd think Rene was done. It's almost like he's tricking himself into liking the product and refuses to admit that Apple may have misfired on this one.
  • This one... the last one... the last one before that....
    Can we just say that Apple has misfired? :)
  • What the heck Renee. This is your third article on this stupid case. Are you trying to say f you to your readers? Give it up and move on. Who cares this much about a case?? Sent from the iMore App
  • Wake-up slap to all Apple fanboys, you'd think
  • Disappointing to see Apple go down the same route as other accessory makers and not making a case for iPhone 6s Plus. Especially since the Mophie cases don't fit the s series very well (a bit too snug).
  • The iPhone 6s Plus already has enough battery, why would you want more?
  • Perhaps enough battery for your needs but not mine. It's certainly better than any other iPhone I've had but spending a full working day on the road or taking pictures for a couple of hours still leaves me with a depleted battery.
  • #quickchargingforthewin
  • I've got to say Rene's love of all things Apple is getting embarrassing now. I've even stopped listening to Macbreak Weekly because Rene just doesn't seem to have a real opinion and will always make excuses for Apple. If you want to see an Apple puppet then look no further than Rene !
  • I am an Android guy, who genuinely does not care for the whole "fanboy" BS. Good tech is good tech, and I fully acknowledge that Apple has made a lot of good stuff throughout its history. So I genuinely do not mean to start a comment war over what I'm about to say: holy crap, Rene is really, really bad. Come on dude, its a battery case. Move on, because at this point, you are the only one still talking about it.
  • My teens - son and daughter - each asked for battery cases for their 6s for Christmas. (The battery life is atrocious on the 6S btw.) Showed them pictures of the Apple battery case and they thought it was fake. "Apple made THAT?" my daughter asked. She was appalled. Needless to say, I opted for a different brand. And Renee, there's probably a very good reason Apple tried to sneak this case under the radar when it was released. I don't think you're doing them any favors to keep writing about it and upping its visibility. ;)
  • Im sure that story is all true, lol. Sent from the iMore App
  • Rene time to dust off the ban hammer, some posters here need it.
  • +1
  • Noooo ! Think of the children !
  • Rene has no grounds to ban anyone here based off of comments, Adolph... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • You are late, the worst comments were removed, Susie
  • Time to jump off the band wagon and smell the roses
  • Ban hammer for what? Posters telling the truth and not blindly following every "this is why you should buy ..." article? Sent from the iMore App
  • You missed the comments I was referring to because they were removed. Calm down big shooter.
  • This is the best explanation of this case I've seen yet. Don't think I'll need it for day to day, but definitely considering it for my next rough trip like working Comicon.
  • I miss Peter Cohen
  • What happen to Peter? I really enjoyed his articles. Sent from the iMore App
  • Is he officially gone? I've missed him too. :(
  • With all these built-in smarts, it would be interesting to compare its performance with battery cases of equal and larger battery capacities. Smart point #5 is interesting. And it would be very informative to see a list showing which other battery case has these "smarts". One appealing feature is the quick removal & slip-on feature of this case. - And no micro USB cable to carry / lose!
  • Rene. Ever the statesman. You should run for Congress. Oh wait! Parliament?
  • Its funny how the Android fans flock in a website created for "Apple-topics" and is supposedly for Apple product users to sneak on what Apple have and they're the ones making comments in a stuff they don't even have. ;) It's like you got a Samsung phone but you're reading an LG Phone manual..... Just saying.
  • Its called being interested in technology, well it is for me anyhow plus I own an ipad and macbook air so I read imore, android central and other tec websites.
  • Moron. As if people can't read whatever they want to read? I, for one, own iOS and Android products, so I like to browse sites devoted to both. Guess with your twisted logic I should only choose one or the other and stick to websites devoted to that.
  • Yeah... Poor little kid can't fathom that I have a Note 5, 6s, Windows phone 640, Tab A, and an iPad mini... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • +1, in the same boat. Does that have to limit me?
  • You know what's interesting? I have the iMore App on my android phone along with the windows and crackberry ones. You can't get the Android Central App in the iTunes Store... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Exactly. I hate that I don't have AC on my iPhone even though that's the blog I prefer to read. It sucks. Sent from the iMore App
  • 1. I came here because of the Mobile Nations Weekly. I like to look at some of the highlighted posts that are on there, and I hadn't seen what this case looks like, so I clicked on the link to look at it.
    2. Android fans actually care about technology. So they check stuff from a variety of companies.
    3. I used to have Apple. Hated it. Girlfriend has Apple. Hates it. She's getting an Android for her next phone because she realized how terrible her iPhone is.
  • Here's what I don't get. If you want a larger battery iPhone and have to spend an extra $99 on this case, why not just go for the Plus? Yes I know it's a bigger overall phone but you get a larger screen, better screen resolution, better camera and a few other small perks but I think the overall trade off pays off better with the Plus than a battery case and the extra investment is pretty much the same. Not to mention you end up with a larger and thicker iPhone 6/S with this case anyways.
    I got the iPhone 6 when it launched and ended up trading it for the 6+ a few months later and haven't looked back, I've not had to charge the phone during the day since I got it, I have wifi and bt on all day and use it to stream music and video pretty much daily plus web browsing, messaging and every now and then calls, I would not get a 6/S and a battery case, seems like a bad investment compared with simply getting a 6/S+ for about the same cost. Just my 2 cents. Sent from the iMore App
  • Very simple. Even with a battery case the 6s is still easier to hold and navigate than a Six Plus (never mind putting a case on the +). I don't like the way the Plus feels in my hand or my pocket. My wife has the Plus and calls it "unwieldy". I prefer the Six form factor and if I need extra battery, I'd rather put a battery pack in a bag than having it attached to the phone at all times. Just my .2 cents.
  • Well if you're gonna go to the 6+ why not cut the price in half and get the Nexus 6P?
    You're getting there ;)
  • I actually bought d case. The thing is usability it does feel bulky. When ur holding it no shows of the hump. Definately prefer this case over mophie. I dont need a big battery just enough to get thru d day without being tied to a wall. Sent from the iMore App
  • Has there ever been any positive comments followed by the signature "Posted via the iMore App for Android"?
  • Yes Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Yes. Just not as many when Rene is trying to sell vanilla flavored BS. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • No. Because Rene has crossed a line.
    There are many negative comments followed by the signature "Posted via the iMore App" as well.
    And I'm going to assume many using their browser on an iDevice, too.
  • My issue with the case isn't about its design, it's that it exists at all. It's an admission by Apple that iPhones don't have enough battery life. Which in addition means their obsession with thin is wrong as well. This kind of battery life should be in the product from the start. We shouldn't have to use these poxy cases. Sent from the iMore App
  • +1
  • So charge my phone at night. Go to work and plug in my charger and charge my phone at work the whole day, come home and charge again at night. Even if I don't my iPhone at work still lasts the whole day. Why should I carry around a heavier phone because you want more battery? Apples advertises hours of use with use (LTE, video playback, music playback). That is their under "normal" use it will last you the day. That normal is subjective and will not fit everyone. If it doesn't fit you and you don't want a battery case then find a phone that does fit your daily life and don't complain about one that doesn't. I want the thinnest phone possible that fits my life. If Apple can make it thinner and still fit my daily "normal" use then great if not then I will decide if I want a case on it and if so which case. But what I don't want is a slightly larger or thicker phone to cater to a high use "normal" case. They should make the thinnest phone that lasts a day with normal use. People can get whatever else they want to make it more by adding case, carry a charger, or not buying the phone.
  • There are plenty of cheaper, thinner phones that perform at least just as well as the iPhone....
    Save money?
  • Haters gonna hate... I appreciated the article, Rene, as it brought up a couple things I hadn't thought about... Apple products, if nothing else are efficient... Say what you want about the look, but I think when the dust settles, this case is going to be judged as a better case than Mophie... I have had Mophie cases for two years now and they have design problems big time... 1. Micro USB sucks and can't sync... 2. The connection between the two parts breaks often... 3. The tiny switch to activate charging loses its strength and begins to switch itself on in your pocket... 4. It's a hard slippery case...
    All problems solved by this case...! I've never seen so many people complain about a product they don't own and dump on someone who has tried it and says it's not bad and actually has some good points... I used to think that a Mac was overpriced and didn't have the same specs as PC so it couldn't be as efficient... Until I owned one... Just my two cents... Sent from the iMore App
  • Thank you Taylor Swift... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Haha
  • Do you realize that everything this case offers that others dont is because APPLE doesnt allow them to? You think Mophie chose to use micro usb? And chose no notifications on screen? No thats Apple making YOUR life harder. You guys fall right into the trap every time and NEVER seem to realize the obstacles are created by Apple themselves. You not only STILL give them your money, you PRAISE them for fixing a problem THEY created. Not just by limiting other manufacturers but by offering a device with crap battery to begin with. Its utterly amazing how people blindly fall in every time.
  • Your claims are plausible, but they are still hearsay til you can provide some proves/ source.
  • So the integration that no other company can priovide is basically what makes it smart fair enough l
  • Because Apple: We say we are the best, so we must be the best.
    Ha. Not to anybody that doesn't work for Apple with dollar signs in their eyes...
  • This case is perfect for me. I absolutely have no worries about battery life anymore. It makes for a better feel and more control with one handed use. Great product. Sent from the iMore App
  • So will this "constant charge" wear the battery in the iPhone out faster? Seems like the phone constantly being charged can't be good for the battery holding charge over time.
  • Listen up, he is right on. This case is not only worth the cost but excels when it comes to comfort, ease of use, and handling. I used Mophie for a long time but just love this case. So glad I went ahead and purchased it in spite of all the unfounded negative comments.
  • Excels in ease of use, comfort? Are you talking about a battety case or a car? You overpaid. Raise your expectations.
  • By no means. Really, take a few moments and visit an Apple Store and give one a try. You will love the feel. Easily on and off, perfectly balanced, not much larger than a normal case. Great software and charging integration as well. The hump surprised me with how well it adds balance to using the phone with the sides still narrow it works actually better for texting in landscape or portrait. Please at least give it a test drive then go with another case if you don't find it works for you.
  • Wait. Arent iPhone users REALLY concerned about how things look? I guess now its about function? I remember when iPhone users didnt need big screens. LOL
  • This remind me the good old nokia! What do you expect with Cook? Don't be surprised if Cook bring Apple back to stone age!
  • Well, supposed "ugliness" aside, I bought one of these cases Friday morning, charged it up, and here it is Monday morning and I've only just now started to use my iPhone 6S's internal battery. I will gladly endure that supposed ugliness to enjoy battery life like this! This is great.
  • How to identify an Apple Fanboy:
    Look for articles that compliment this Apple battery case. Honestly, how can anyone take anything Rene says seriously any longer?? He may be the only tech blogger that hasn't been fully disgusted with this case. If you're going to defend Apple for this, you truly refuse to take off your blinders. Thanks for proving all of your haters right.
  • www.power-cases.com has 39 Battery Cases from as cheap as $18 to $110. From 2,400mAh to as high as 7500mAh Listed here: http://power-cases.com/category/iphone/iphone-66s