Bulk your iPhone and its battery with Apple’s new Smart Battery Case.
Apple is known for products boasting sleek lines, but to solve the widespread problem of limited battery life, the company has begun selling a decidedly protuberant juice-boosting iPhone case.
Unveiled Tuesday, the iPhone 6S Smart Battery Case sports what can only be described as a bulge on its back. The battery unit looks to be about the size of a credit card and protrudes out far enough that it will probably ruin the clean line of your jeans as you slip it into your pocket.
The case costs $99 in the US, £79 in the UK and AU$165 in Australia. Apple hasn’t detailed the battery booster’s exact capacity, but it did say it’s enough to increase talk time up to 25 hours, Internet use up to 18 hours on modern high-speed 4G LTE networks, and 20 hours of video playback.
Smartphone engineers work hard to create thin, sculpted designs. But battery boosters and rubbery cases show that customers often put a higher put a higher priority on practical concerns — even if it means spoiling a phone’s stylish looks.
With no major breakthroughs in battery technology, using battery packs — either those built into cases or power banks — has become the only option for people who need to extend the life of their smartphones but who can’t plug in halfway through the day. Quick-charging tech has helped phone makers improve the battery offering of their devices, but Apple starting to build batteries into its cases does serve as acknowledgement of the iPhone’s limitations.
Apple fans could be surprised to see such a bulbous accessory from the Cupertino, California-based company. When the iPhone 6 was released in 2014, some commentators were surprised to see even the camera lens protruding slightly from the device, instead of sitting flush with its body.
The battery case offers some niceties for Apple product users. It charges at the same time as the phone itself over Apple’s standard Lightning connector, and the iPhone lock screen and notification center display the battery case’s charge status.
Third-party case manufacturers such as Mophie have long produced cases that bulk up the iPhone and its battery, but this is the first time Apple has got into the game. Such cases undo much of the hard work that Chief Design Officer Jony Ive and the rest of Apple’s design team put into making the iPhone the sleek device it is, but it’s undeniable that they’ve become a major segment of the phone accessory market.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNET will have a full rated review of the Smart Battery Case later today.