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Hands on with Apple's new Smart Battery Case for iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR

Smart Battery Case

Apple has released a new Smart Battery Case for the latest iPhones. Here are our first impressions of the newly updated accessory.

If you're familiar with Apple's previous Smart Battery Cases — released for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 — you'll be familiar with the new lineup. This time around, the accessory is available in black and white for the XS, XR, and XS Max. A first for the larger sized iPhones.

Instead of just updating the size, Apple went a step further and completely redesigned it to look better and be more capable than the previous iterations.

The exterior is still made of soft silicone that is easy to grip but makes it more difficult to pull out of tight pockets and has an affinity for collecting a bit of lint. A soft microfiber lining blankets the interior to help cradle your phone. Most of the case is solid, but the top portion is flexible, just as it was before. The top bends back making it dead-simple to slip the phone in or take it out.

The lower portion has a different shape than the previous model. It drops the chin that used to sit below the bottom of the phone, now fitting much tighter. The battery on the back also extends all the way to the bottom rather than stopping part way, creating an odd bump.

Smart Battery Case Lightning port
Smart Battery Case Lightning port

Apple still stuck with a Lightning port on the battery case, a choice we prefer for this accessory class. This means regardless if you have the case on or off, you only need one cable. Apple has also upgraded the charging speed so that if you use a USB-C to Lightning cable and a USB-C PD charger, it will power up much faster. If fast charging isn't your thing, use Qi wireless charging.

Smart Battery Case wireless charging
Smart Battery Case wirelessly charging

A lot of misinformation went around in the hours before the cases landed in consumers hands regarding the capacity. To set things straight — these new cases are the most powerful Apple has ever released.

Smart Battery Case
Smart Battery Case

They have a smaller 1369mAh battery internally, but instead of a large single cell as in years past, they've put two smaller cells and wired them in series. This lets them keep the amperes the same, but double the voltage, netting 10.1Wh of power. The last model Apple released for the iPhone 7 was only 8.98Wh.

We will be putting the new Smart Battery Case through its paces over the next few days for our full review, but if you are eager to get your hands on one you can pick it up now for $129.99.