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CNN  — 

It’s become a yearly tradition and, like clockwork, Apple recently released new Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. They cost $129 and are available now — and they might just be the ultimate companions for the latest set of iPhones.

Beyond just giving you more battery life, there is a new usability factor with these cases. There’s also a new shade. Yes, black and white are still the core color options for all three iPhones, but the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max also come in a Pink Sand. Unfortunately, there is no Midnight Green option, even though that would match perfectly.

So let’s dive into Apple’s Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.

It gives you more battery life

As any battery case should, the Smart Battery Case gives you even more life out of the iPhone 11 family. On their own, the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max offer battery life that impresses, especially the iPhone 11, which might just be the new king of over a day of use.

Each of these cases will give you up to 50% more battery life out of the iPhones. For me, it meant a full extra day on the iPhone 11 Pro Max, while the iPhone 11 Pro yielded around the same with a bit more oomph at the end. Even more impressively, I got about a day and a half extra on the iPhone 11. Of course, depending on your iPhone usage, your mileage may vary here. However, Apple’s claim of up to an additional 50% battery life is true.

One thing I particularly like about the Smart Battery Case is how intertwined it is with the iPhone. For starters, it will always keep your iPhone at 100%, meaning that it is always sending power to the smartphone until the case is depleted. You can easily monitor this on the lock screen, where it displays the battery level of the iPhone itself and the Smart Battery Case.

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When the iPhone is unlocked, you can also see this in the battery widget under the notification center. You can get to this panel by swiping down the display from the top left corner, or by going to your home screen and swiping all the way to the left. It’s super handy and really nice to see the battery levels displayed in such a clear fashion. I really like this better than having to look at the actual case for a row of a small LED circles to monitor the level.

And that external battery is still housed in the small bump on the Smart Battery Case. It starts below the cameras on the back of the 11, 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max. It has a nice rounded and smooth outer shell, which we’ll touch on a bit later. Charging the Smart Battery Case is done through a Lightning port on the bottom or through wireless charging. Like the iPhones, this supports the Qi standard for surface charging. Since Apple killed the headphone jack, there is no audio jack on the Smart Battery Case. But the good news is that the Lightning port on the case supports dongles of all sorts, including one that turns it into an audio jack, so you can still use wired headphones.

It’s a similar design with slight differences

The old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies to the Smart Battery Case. Apple is sticking with a smooth silicone for the outer shell while the inside is a soft microfiber-like fabric meant to protect the iPhone.

The top piece of the Smart Battery Case (easiest to see it on the back above the battery hump) is quite flexible and allows you to slide your iPhone 11, 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max right inside. Sliding it all the way down will have it plug into the integrated Lightning connector. You’ll also feel your iPhone buzz if it’s on silent or make a charging sound. This way you know it’s secure. You still get access to your main cameras on the back and can flip the vibrate or sound switch, adjust the volume and even turn the phone or off. This is all crucial, as you don’t want to lose any functionality with the case. The bottom of the Smart Battery Case not only has a Lightning port for I/O or charging purposes, but it also has holes that match the speakers on the iPhone. Apple really paid attention to the details here.

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Removing the iPhone from the Smart Battery Case is quite simple. Remember that slightly more flexible piece at the top? Just pop that backward and pull the iPhone out. It’s that easy.

Overall, it’s a nice build, The silicone does smudge a bit, but then again, any silicone case does. I tend to like the black or Pink Sand cases a bit more, as the white model shows dirt a lot faster. A simple cleaning cloth or even some light water can get the dirt off. I’ll also say the hump feels a bit smaller than previous Smart Battery Cases and doesn’t bother me at all. It gives you a nice grip to hold the phone. The design works well.

The camera button steals the show

A big feature of the iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max is the camera setup, so it makes sense that the dedicated camera button on the Smart Battery Case is a rock star of a feature. The button is located on the bottom right side and dips below the rest of the case. It makes it very easy to find, and it’s quite tactile.

Pressing it once will launch the camera application, even when the phone is locked or when you’re in the operating system. It’s quite fast and is a super easy way to snap a shot. It’s handy for when you are already in the operating system, as the quick access button on the lock screen is only available there.

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Holding that button again once the camera is open and running will start it recording video. I found this super handy for when you only have one hand free, as when phones get larger it can be hard to do everything. But this quick access button really comes in handy. It’s a great addition to the Smart Battery Case and lets you capture more with ease.

Bottom Line

Apple’s Smart Battery Case checks off the boxes of an external battery case and then some. It can be charged with a physical cord or a wireless charger. It will keep your iPhone running longer — up to 50% more battery out of the device. As Apple’s previous models did, it integrates quite deeply with the iPhone itself, something third parties just can’t match.

And better yet, the addition of a dedicated button to easily access the camera makes it easier to open and use one of the iPhone’s best features. Ultimately it will make it simpler for you to capture life and the many memories you make. At $129, the Smart Battery Case for iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max delivers big value.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.