Apple Smart Battery Case for iPhone 11 full review
Need a battery case with the best features for your new iPhone 11, 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max? Got a lot of cash? Apple has the case for you.
Apple has improved the battery life in its latest iPhone 11 family, but that doesn’t mean you won’t one day find yourself with a frighteningly low battery icon when you are hours away from a charging opportunity.
This is where you need a handy power bank to wire-up to your fading phone, but that usually means another hunk of metal in your bag and a cable that has a mind of its own. That said, there are some seriously great portable chargers available these days – read our roundup of the best power banks.
Far more convenient is a case for your phone that not only protects it but includes a battery of its own – and no need for cables, a case that charges the phone when you need it most.
Apple offers its own, the Smart Battery Case - now available for iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max.
Remember that each of these iPhones is a different size so requires a specific case. The 11 has a screen that measures diagonally across at 6.1in. The 11 Pro’s screen is actually a little smaller at 5.8in, and the Max obviously has the largest at 6.5in.
First, we have to say that Apple’s Smart Battery Case is not cheap. Indeed, it’s positively expensive – at £129 or US$129.
We tested a bunch of battery cases - read our comparisons of the best battery cases for iPhone 11, 11 Pro and Pro Max - and most of the rivals are priced around a mere £30 or $30.
And most of these have a larger battery capacity than Apple’s case – 4,000mAh compared to a rather weak 1,430mAh.
(Amazon may cut a few pounds off the price, although at the time of writing we found these on only the UK Amazon store.)
So why on Earth would you buy an Apple Smart Battery Case?
Here are 10 reasons we think it might be worth the extra £100/$100.
1) It’s made by Apple. That doesn’t just mean you get the Apple logo on the back. It’s the only battery case for iPhone 11 that is MFi Certified, meaning it has Apple’s blessing as a product Made For iPhone.
None of the other iPhone 11 battery cases is certified, although the ones we tested all worked just fine.
Batteries can be dangerous things, so peace of mind that your Smart Battery Case won’t burst into flames might make you consider the pricier Apple product.
2) You can see exactly how much battery life remains in both iPhone and case by swiping right to the Today View on the home screen. There you can see remaining battery charge as a percentage for all your connected Apple products: iPhone, Smart Battery Case, AirPods. You don’t get that with non-Apple products, which have a dumber set of LEDs on the back showing you very roughly how much juice is left.
3) The Smart Battery Case works differently to other cases. While non-Apple battery cases require you to push a button at the back when you want to start charging from the case, Apple’s case is always charging the iPhone until it runs out of juice itself.
In effect, it gives you really extended battery life, as you don’t have to do anything to feel the benefit. Remember to re-charge your case, though!
4) Apple has added a dedicated camera button that launches the Camera app even when the iPhone is locked. Press the button to take a photo, or apply a longer press to start a video.
We’re not sure this is any faster than just swiping left on an unlocked, but it’s another option we’re happy to have. It means you don’t have to look at your phone to get the camera working, which is helpful if the thing you’re looking at - and want to photograph – is not your phone.
5) The silicone exterior feels super smooth but is actually very grippy, meaning you are less likely to drop your precious phone.
6) The elastomer hinge design makes inserting and taking out the phone from the case super easy. Some third-party battery cases are prone to breaking if a two-piece design or damaging the Lightning connector by pushing too hard.
7) Apple claims that the Smart Battery Case will give you 50% more battery life. In our tests, it actually exceeded this, and we got around 60-70% out of a fully charged case. This might be less than the non-Apple battery cases, which all claim 100% or greater charge (although some give up at around 70-80%), but it should be enough for most people who can get to a charging point in the next 24 hours.
8) At 100g (for the iPhone 11 Pro model that we tested) it’s the lightest of all the iPhone 11 battery cases we tested.
9) It comes in a range of colours, unlike most black-only third-party battery cases. The Smart Battery Case for iPhone 11 is available in Black or White, and there’s a third option for the 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, Pink Sand.
10) Yeah, it does have the Apple logo on the back.
Apple Smart Battery Case design
Don’t forget that you really should protect your phone in a case anyway, and the Smart Battery Case doubles up as protector and charger.
It does add bulk to the phone, of course, and you might prefer to use the case only when away for ages from a charging point – say on a long journey, or when you expect to be pushing the iPhone’s battery hard by watching videos or playing games.
We prefer the Apple Smart Battery Case to other non-Apple battery cases. It has several advantages - case battery life percentage shown a swipe away, Apple certified, automatic charging process, and special camera button – but these come at a high price.
A cheaper battery case might help you if you only need one occasionally, but if you want that security every day, then we think spending the extra might just be worth it.