Earning its 'smart' moniker, Apple's new Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6s presents users with both a new lock screen battery display as well as compatibility with the Notification Center battery widget, giving the accessory capabilities that just aren't possible with third-party battery cases.
The $99 Smart Battery Case was released on Tuesday by Apple, compatible with both the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6. The Apple-built battery pack extends the life of a handset by up to 25 hours.
In the product description, Apple notes that an "intelligent battery status" is displayed on the iPhone lock screen, as well as in Notification Center.
That stands in contrast to third-party battery cases, like those from Mophie, which rely on LED lights and power buttons on the rear of the device for charging and checking remaining battery capacity. Apple's own Smart Battery Case was designed in tandem with iOS 9, meaning there is no need for an external indictor, or for users to turn on the battery.
By intelligently using Apple-built software, the Smart Battery Case negates the need for user interaction, simplifying the accessory. In her review of the new Apple case, Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal noted that an iPhone paired with the Smart Battery Case will drain the case's power first, saving the integrated iPhone battery for last.
Stern revealed that Apple's Smart Battery Case features an 1,877mAh battery that can recharge a completely-dead iPhone 6s to about 80 percent battery level. With an integrated Lightning port, she was able to completely recharge both an iPhone 6s and the case in just over two hours.
Stern also revealed that Apple has integrated a passive antenna into the Smart Battery Case to improve reception.
It should be noted that with a "chin" at the bottom, the case may not work with all headphones. In Stern's case, Apple's EarPods worked fine, but Beats Solo HD headphones simply didn't fit into the case's cutout for the iPhone 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple opted to place a "hump" in the back of its new battery case, which allows for the top and bottom of the accessory to remain thin while still protecting the iPhone. This allows the Smart Battery Case to remain compatible with docking accessories, including Apple's own official Lightning dock.
Users also flex the thin top of the case in order to wrap it around the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s. The device is made of silicone, making it somewhat pliable and in a single piece, unlike hard plastic, two-piece offerings from most third-party battery case makers.
Orders for the iPhone Smart Battery Case deliver between Dec. 10 and Dec. 14 with expedited shipping, or Dec. 11 through Dec. 15 with free shipping. It can also be shipped to stores, but is not yet in stock for in-store pickup.