Apple's latest case will double the battery life of your iPhone XR, XS or XS Max

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Updated Thu January 31, 2019

Story highlights

  • Apple's Smart Battery Case for the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max is available for $129.99.
  • Since it's a first-part case, it works seamlessly with the iPhone and iOS 12.
  • It will double the iPhone's battery life.
  • It has a unique design with a hump on the bottom back, but on the XS Max, it makes it easier to hold the iPhone.

Teams at Apple spend countless hours working and refining secret products that are either unveiled at a keynote or as a surprise addition to the online store.

The latest product to follow that path is the Smart Battery Case for the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR. It's exactly what it sounds like. It's a case for the latest iPhones that will extend the battery life. It's not cheap though. No matter the color or variant, Apple's Smart Battery Case is $129.

For that price, you get a battery case that doesn't cut corners, extends battery life and seamlessly fits into the Apple ecosystem. Let's dive into it.

A friendly looking case

No matter the iPhone, this case has the same build, just a bigger or smaller footprint. Apple's Smart Battery Case has a soft silicone build that makes it a bit more friendly. You'll slide your iPhone into the case (top down), and it will click into the tiny Lightning charging port on the inside. Moreover, the case won't scratch your phone, thanks to terry cloth inside — it might even help remove some fingerprints.

Along with the thin bezels around the XR, XS and XS Max display, Apple kept the edges of the case thin. They rise over the screen to protect it in the event of a drop. The bezels fit along with the theme of companionship since this case should work with, and not take away, from the iPhone itself.

Like Apple's silicone cases, you'll have buttons for volume and power, while the on/off switch has a cutout for access. The back of the smart battery case has a hump that contains the battery. It's not the best design choice at first glance, but on the XS Max, it makes it easier to hold the phone. I have a feeling you might chuckle at it for the first few tries, but it serves a distinct purpose.

Currently, the smart battery case is available in either white or black. I've been testing the black variant, which does a decent job of hiding fingerprints.

Doubling the battery life

While it might look like Apple just threw a single credit card shaped battery in this case, it's not the case. The company split the battery into cells, so while it's a 1,369mAh battery on paper, it has a higher watts power hour. I use an XS Max and XR. Battery life has never been an issue with either of these, but the Smart Battery Case essentially doubles the battery life. I popped the case on Thursday and didn't have to charge my XS Max till Saturday midday with only one quick refuel for 20 minutes in the car. It's impressive.

The Smart Battery Case works out of the box. In typical Apple fashion, there isn't really a setup. From the moment you slide the case on your iPhone, it starts charging the device. Unlike battery cases that you can turn on and off, Apple's model will always charge your iPhone. This way when the case dies, your phone should be at 100%.

You can monitor the battery life on the lock screen, where it will show both the iPhone's and the Smart Battery Case's percentage. Additionally, you'll find the Smart Battery Case appear in the "Batteries Widget." This makes it super easy to see how it performs, while also speaking to the attention to detail. No other battery case integrates with an iPhone this well.

Plug it in or place it on a pad

Since Apple's latest iPhones support wireless charging, it makes sense that the Smart Battery Case offers Qi wireless charging. It works great. For one, these cases extend the time between charging, and when it needs to be charged, you don't need to search for a charging cable in the dark. Just put the iPhone in the case on a wireless charging pad and you'll be good to go.

Bottom line

Like any Apple product, there is a premium price. At $129, this is an expensive battery case. There are alternatives. You could buy an Anker battery pack or a Mophie charging case for less money, but neither offer the simplicity of Apple's Smart Battery Case.

Apple also packed in a large battery cell, a soft finish design, access to ports and wireless charging. This battery case also works with iOS and the iPhone XR, XS and XS Max in ways that third parties just can't.

B&H has the white variants for the XR, XS and XS Max readily available with fast free shipping. While Amazon is the go to for the case in black at a lower price with free Prime shipping.

  • The Smart Battery Case is available for the XR, XS and XS Max in either black or white.
  • Apple iPhone XR Smart Battery Case in white ($118.58; bhphotovideo.com)
  • Apple iPhone XR Smart Battery Case in black ($118.58; amazon.com)
  • Apple iPhone XS Smart Battery Case in white ($118.58; bhphotovideo.com)
  • Apple iPhone XS Smart Battery Case in black ($118.51; amazon.com)
  • Apple iPhone XS Max Smart Battery Case in white ($118.58; bhphotovideo.com)
  • Apple iPhone XS Max Smart Battery Case in black ($118.24; amazon.com)