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X-ray teardown shows just how smart the iPhone 11 Smart Battery Case is

iPhone 11 Smart Battery Case x-ray
iPhone 11 Smart Battery Case x-ray (Image credit: Creative Electron)

What you need to know

  • The iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Smart Battery Case has a camera button.
  • A new X-ray teardown shows how that button works.
  • Can you see the iPod Classic in there, too?

Apple recently released the Smart Battery Case for both iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro and it came with a surprise. The new cases have a dedicated, physical camera button for the first time and it's pretty awesome. But the folks at iFixit wanted to know exactly how it works seeing as there's no button on the iPhone for it to press. Enter the magic of the X-ray.

iFixit had the team at Creative Electron take an X-ray of an iPhone 11 Smart Battery case to see what makes it tick, and it turns out it's smarter than we thought. According to the report the button actually connects to the iPhone's Lightning port via a flexible circuit with everything else handled in software.

There are no buttons on the iPhone 11 that match up with the camera on the case. Our first guess was some kind of wireless transmission to the phone, but then we saw our patient's X-rays. It turns out there's a little circuit board inside the case, which has a thin, flexible circuit running out to connect to the photo button. That circuit board connects the camera button to the phone through the Lightning port "chin" at the bottom of the case. Not totally unexpected, but interesting to see how much hardware design goes into adding just one thing to a battery case.

That's all super interesting and another example of Apple's design going a step further than most. But what really caught my eye was what looks just like an old iPod Classic hidden inside the Smart Battery Case. Clickwheel and all.

iPhone 11 Smart Battery Case

iPhone 11 Smart Battery Case (Image credit: Creative Electron)

Now I'm feeling all nostalgic

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.