Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery case review: Powerful, but not powerful enough

Alex Kidman 17 December 2015 NEWS


Apple’s Smart Battery case does solve the most pressing problem for the iPhone 6s, but there are plenty of better and cheaper alternatives.

The iPhone 6s is a great phone for the most part, as we discuss in our review, but there’s a big, glaring problem, and that’s the battery life.

For a premium smartphone in 2015, the iPhone 6s struggles with sub-par battery life, even compared to its own sibling, the iPhone 6s Plus. There are numerous battery packs and cases that you can buy to charge an iPhone 6s, but the $165 Apple Smart Battery Case is the first Apple-led device to tackle the iPhone power problem.

Here are the essential specifications for the Apple Smart Battery case against a range of competing iPhone battery cases:

iPhone 6s Battery Cases
Model Battery Capacity Weight Price
Apple Smart Battery Case 1877mAh 100g $165
Mophie Juice Pack Plus 3300mAh 110g $149.95
Incipio offGRID Backup Battery Case 3000mAh 99.7g $119.95
Lifeproof Fre Power 2600mAh 122g $179.99

Upsides: Why you’d want the Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case

  • Stylish design: It’s very much an aesthetic call, but the Smart Battery case avoids the trap of most of the rest of the battery case market with a simple hunch at the rear of the phone, rather than a battery enclosure that significantly bulks up the phone
  • Added iOS features: Being a first-party Apple product means that the Smart Battery case gets integration features not found in other battery products, including a distinct notification window that shows the battery status of both the case and the connected iPhone 6s.
  • Improved battery life: This is obviously the key benefit of the Smart Battery Case. In anecdotal testing with a 6S using it the same way as we normally would, we were able to get two full days of battery life from the iPhone 6s; without the battery case we would easily have run out by the end of the first day.In battery benchmark terms, here is how the same iPhone 6s handset compared running Geekbench’s battery test with the screen dimmed with and without the case installed:
    Geekbench Battery Results Battery Time Battery Score
    iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case 7:21:10 4407
    iPhone 6s without Smart Battery Case 3:52:10 2321
  • Lightning throughout: Most competing cases use microUSB connectors, which could be problematic if you don’t have a microUSB charger handy. The Smart Battery case connects directly to the iPhone 6s lightning port and mirrors that with a lightning connector at the base itself.

Downsides: Why you might not want the Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case

  • Better battery life, but not the best: The Smart Battery case does add power to your iPhone 6s, but pretty much every other major battery case offers more actual power than the Smart Battery’s rather paltry 1877mAh battery can give you.
  • Limited style choices: Spent up big on a rose gold iPhone 6s? Too bad. Apple only sells the Smart Battery case in white or gray finishes.
  • Headphone port needs an extension cable: This is something that most battery cases struggle with, because there’s no easy way to integrate audio without an inbound audio plug, which would add to the overall cost of the case. Apple doesn’t provide an extension cable with the case, so unless you’re using their own headphones, or going Bluetooth only, your existing headphones may not work at all.
  • No power switch: The Smart Battery Case is always on and always charging a connected phone, which may not suit the way you want to actually use it. Some competing battery cases have specific on/off switches that give that power control back to you.

Who is it best suited for? What are my other options?

iPhone 6s battery life is a significant problem, and it’s one that the Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case does solve to a significant extent.

The issue is that it does so at a premium price in a market where there are a lot of alternatives, most of which are cheaper or have better battery performance, and quite often both. If you’re going to compromise the light weight and thin profile of your iPhone 6s, you may as well get as much extra battery life as possible.

Apple could fix the battery problem for whatever the iPhone 6s’ successor model is simply by making the phone a little thicker, and it’s not hard to think that this would solve the battery problem more elegantly than the iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case does.

Where can I get it?

Apple sells the Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case through its online store and its own Apple stores.

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