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First look: Apple's lightweight 3.6oz Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6

Coming as a surprising hardware launch on Tuesday, the new Apple Smart Battery Case is a compelling new option for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s users looking to get more uptime out of their handset. AppleInsider offers a closer look at the new $99 accessory.

Right out of the box, the lightweight design of the Smart Battery Case makes an impression. We weighed the unit and found it's just 3.6 ounces, compared to 4.55 ounces for the iPhone 6, or 5.04 ounces for the iPhone 6s.

When held in the hand, the Smart Battery Case feels more like a protective case with an odd protrusion on the back. It's really unlike any other battery case on the market, the vast majority of which appear bulky and cumbersome.

The case itself is made of the same rubberized material Apple uses on its other protective cases for iPhone. We're thankful for that — it's easy to grip with both your hands and on flat surfaces.

The inside of the battery case on our white model is a soft grey felt, and Apple has chosen to brand this area with the serial number and FCC stamp in order to maintain an exceptionally clean aesthetic on the outside.

Why does a battery case need an FCC logo? Because Apple cleverly included an integrated antenna to help ensure the case does not affect reception.

Wedged between the felt coating and the housing for the cavity holding the extended battery is a tiny LED that will illuminate through the felt lining when you're charging the case face up and without the iPhone inserted. Solid green indicates a full charge, while solid orange means it's charging.

As for the bulge on the back, we gave the Smart Battery Case an unofficial rear-jeans-pocket test, and found that the handset with accessory can still be concealed without issue.

When the two are paired together, the case adds about 1.5 centimeters to the overall length of the iPhone. Most of that — about 1.25 centimeters — is at the bottom to accommodate the integrated Lightning plug for recharging. Therefore, if you're someone who typically uses your iPhone 6 one-handed, you may find yourself stretching just a bit further to hit some strike zones and keys on the screen, as the added length and depth of the battery pack will slightly alter the way the iPhone rests in your hand.

The case itself feels robust and is not very pliable. The only truly flexible portion is the top 2.5 centimeters near the camera lens recess, where users must bend it back to insert the phone.

Inserting your iPhone is easy enough — simply fold the top back, then push the handset down into the case. It can accommodate both the iPhone 6 and the slightly thicker iPhone 6s. Once it's pushed into place, just pull the top back so it covers the handset completely.

In our tests, the iPhone 6s fit snugly, so much so that you may not want to take the effort to separate the two units. Getting the phone out does require a little bit of effort — peeling back the top of the case near the earpiece, holding it in place, then squeezing the iPhone to yank it out.

AppleInsider will have more on Apple's new Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, including our full review, in the coming days.