Apple Smart Battery Case for iPhone XS, XS Max and XR full review
A battery case offers double protection, from physical knocks and drops to saving your anguish when the phone’s battery starts fading fast.
Apple didn’t bother releasing a battery case for the iPhone X, leaving the market open to Chinese manufacturers – many of whom did a pretty good job; see our roundup of the best battery cases for iPhone X, XS, XS Max and XR.
Indeed, it didn’t officially release one for its iPhone 8, although the Apple Smart Battery Case for iPhone 7 did fit the 8.
More than a year later, Apple has finally addressed the situation for its latest iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR with its Smart Battery Case.
These look just like Apple’s Smart Battery Cases for iPhone 6, 6s and 7 (and 8), with the humpback and clever charging routine.
Smart Battery Case compatibility
Does the Apple Battery Case fit the iPhone X? The Apple Smart Battery Case for iPhone XS does fit the older iPhone X, which has the same dimensions. The camera bump on the iPhone XS is slightly bigger than it is on the iPhone X, but the X fits this battery case just fine.
The models for the iPhone XS Max and XR, which are physically larger, are compatible with only those models.
Smart Battery Case pricing
Sit down and prepare yourself, as the Apple Smart Battery Case is expensive. The XS, XS Max and XR models are all priced at £129 or US$129. Previous Apple battery cases cost £99/$99, which was eye-watering enough!
You can certainly buy cheaper, from under £30 or $30 for a decent Chinese-made battery case for iPhone X and XS; see Tech Advisor's roundup for more options.
While these aren’t Apple-certified we have used several for some time with no bad consequences. Indeed, if you just want to keep a battery case in your bag when travelling and you’re likely to be away from a power source for some time, then a cheaper case makes sense.
If you want this to be your main case and for it to be on your precious iPhone all the time, it is worth seriously considering investing in Apple’s own.
Smart Battery Case power tool
The case’s battery capacity seems quite small at just 1,369mAH (10.1Wh), compared to some of the third-party cases at 3,000mAh or more. It did give nearly a full recharge to an iPhone below 10% charge, which is on a par with cases with more impressive statistics.
Testing the iPhone XS case, we waited till the iPhone was at 1% charge before putting it in the Smart Battery Case. It then charged the phone back up to 90% - enough, we judge, to get you to the next charging opportunity.
Apple has improved its Smart Battery Case by making it compatible with Qi-certified wireless chargers, so no need to remove the iPhone for wireless charging. Both charge simultaneously.
In fact, this is one of the charging processes that we like so much about Apple’s battery cases. The iPhone will always charge via the case while the case has power. You don’t need to physically press a button to draw that power when the iPhone is fading.
The case battery will automatically be used first until it reaches 0%, then it simply switches to the iPhone’s battery power.
Keeping the phone at 100% charge might seem damaging, but the case manages the power output in a way that doesn't harm the battery. Remember this is an Apple accessory working with an Apple device.
This means you get the extra hours (Apple claims talk time is increased to 33 hours, and Internet use to 21 hours) without having to think about it or suddenly lose all power and have to wait for the case’s battery to be alerted.
Battery status of both the Smart Case and the iPhone itself are displayed on the iPhone Lock screen and in the Notification Centre, so you can see exactly how much charge you have left.
The case can also be charged faster with a charger rather than wirelessly. See our list of the best iPhone chargers.
While tough and robust, the silky, the silicone exterior feels great. A soft elastomer hinge design makes it easy to put the case on and take it off – so no perilous bending or two-part disassembling that some cases put you through.
If you're the sort of person who prefers their iPhone naked, adding this case will save its investment with just one slip of your hand and a hard surface below.
Some might scoff at the humpback design, and this case will add bulk to your slimline iPhone, but you bought it for extra power and protection, not looks. In my opinion, it looks just fine, and so it should at the price.
Inside, there is a soft microfibre lining to stop your iPhone getting scratched when you remove it or slide it in.
Yes, it’s significantly more expensive than other battery cases, but it is the best we have tested and comes with Apple’s trusted credentials. If you just need a battery case for occasional long journeys then maybe save and buy one of our other (much cheaper) recommended non-Apple cases. But if it’s going to be your forever case, then it’s worth saving up for the real thing.