Review Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case

Discussion in 'Gadgets and Consumer Electronics' started by JD666, Dec 10, 2015.

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  1. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Yes, the accessory that has the world up in arms over it on Twitter and numerous tech blogs all over the world.

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    The news that Apple has launched a battery case for the iPhone 6/6s came about 48 hours ago. Some people in the US got their hands on it as well and did an initial impression. Fortunately, the newly opened Apple store in the UAE also had this in stock.

    A little discussion before we delve into the item. The battery life of the iPhone has been a gripe ever since the 3G/3Gs started using data on a grand scale and chugging battery life like anything. My biggest issue with the iPhones has been this and only this. The 5S would barely last 10 hours before needing a charge (in my hands), the iPhone 6 and 6S last at par, out doing it by about 4-5 hours.

    Having used a Motorola Razr Maxx, that would get me thru a day easily, and sometimes two days, my expectations (as a heavy user) are that I should have to charge it once a day (at night), without the battery going to abysmally low levels, that affect battery life as well.

    Time and again, I've had this discussion that if Apple really wants to target the business user, or heavy user, they either need to launch a Business edition of the iPhone, that is probably 9-10mm thick, packs a battery thats 2-2.5 times the current battery, and position it for the executive/heavy user who doesn't mind a thicker iPhone, provided it lasts him longer.

    If I'm traveling, I would prefer my Redmi 2 or Lumia 1020 even, vs the iPhone 6/6S, which would just stay in offline mode, taken out only when needed to capture a photo or record a video. A traveler's edition would really help matters.

    I'm talking carbon fiber finish, leather, fabric, something that makes a style statement and makes the Enterprise edition stand out. Those who want to make a style statement can always go for the regular iPhone devices. Akin to the new Moto X series.

    Anyways, Apple decided to go and make a battery case for the iPhone to resolve this. But they did do some things right, and some things wrong.

    There have been a number of 3rd party chargers that work with the iPhones. Some have the capacity to charge the device once over and a little more, while others provide enough juice to charge them once.

    Interestingly, the Smart Battery case does neither. It would probably charge an iPhone 6S to about 75% of charge, and an iPhone 6 to a slightly lesser level (since it has a bigger battery vs the 6S).

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    So this was something that was perhaps in the works, and the software for this was implemented in iOS 9. As usual, designed in California and manufactured in the factory of the world, China.

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    Sliding the box out of the outer packing, and the battery pack is fitted to a cardboard extension inside the case, face down.

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    The finish is identical to the silicone case that I got recently for the iPhone 6S. A nice, grippy feel all around.

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    A simple image that explains how to insert the phone into the case. Installing the phone in the cover is a lot easier than pulling it out. I had to yank it quite a bit so that it would come out.

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    The specifications in the accompanying literature indicate that this pack can be charged with the iPad 2.1A charger as well (5.2V - 2.4 Amps max). The output is standard iPhone charger output at 1A and 5Volts.

    The battery is an 1877 mAH which is an odd figure, considering that the iPhone 6 comes with an 1810 mAH battery and the iPhone 6S comes with a 1715 mAH battery. I was half expecting them to use one of the two batteries to make manufacturing easier, rather than getting a new battery. Perhaps packaging?

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    Charging instructions explain the LED indicator inside the case where it isn't visible once the phone is inserted! Apple logic, all I can say.

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    The LED in question. Amber when charging.

    Charging time was under 30 minutes to get it form 60% to full. Considering the battery capacity and the charging current, a full charge from zero should be under 2 hours.

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    At the bottom the Lighting port for charging/data and the recess for the audio jack. The stock Apple headphone jack works with the pack, but if you have an angled jack, or one with a thick connector body, it won't work.

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    The inside of the Smart Battery case has the same soft velvet finish as the silicone cover. However what you see in this image are ports for the speaker and microphone, that get angled towards the front of the device.

    This adds about half an inch to the length of the phone as well, once fitted.

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    And now to the bone of contention. The hunchback on the case, the unsightly swollen back that looks like a taped on battery.

    The battery seems to be placed squarely in the middle of the cover, slightly lower compared to the top.

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    Tapers inwards along the length of the cover. One explanation that did come up for the positioning was that the antennas embedded into the cover (to ensure that there is no signal loss when using the phone) required such a positioning of the battery.

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    Honestly, it isn't as bad as some of the 3rd party cases around, that stretch right till the end and really bulk up the phone.

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    A comparison of thickness between the silicone cover and the battery pack.

    All in all, I feel that this is a step in the right direction by Apple, however launching a device that has the additional juice would've been a better step over all than selling an accessory that costs nearly 10-13% the price of an iPhone.

    The good bits are -

    The phone uses the external battery first, before using the internal battery.

    So you can essentially start your day with this pack fitted, and once the case is used, you can jettison it into your bag, and switch to using your phone only. This is a feature that I like. If I can step out in the evening with a slim phone (fully charged) , I don't mind carrying the bulge in the morning.


    You can see the battery levels on your notification screen -

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    No Micro USB for charging the battery pack.
    One unwanted lighting connector, but saves the hassle of carrying an additional USB cable.

    Please switch to USB Type-C Apple and do the world a favor.

    Some of the not so good bits -

    In typical Apple fashion, there is no control over the charging. It is managed by the phone itself. So you cannot switch off the battery pack or use it when you need it. It's there, and that's about it. You can disconnect it by pulling your phone out, or eventually give in and start using the two as one big device.
     
  2. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    This is how I look at the 'design' of the hump.

    Normal phone hold -

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    Normal phone hold from top -

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    Notice air gap between palm and back of device.

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    Air gap filled with Smart Case. Neatly done.

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    Notice how the tapered curves allow palm and fingers to wrap around naturally.


    Now combine the two and launch a Heavy usage iPhone Apple. This cover business is not going to go on long. :D
     
  3. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Btw, forgot to add. The smart case weighs around 100 gms. My scale had a resolution of 10gms, and this came up to 100. With a phone attached, this would go upto nearly 250 gms or 1 pound. Not the lightest of combinations out there
     
  4. JD666

    JD666 RAID Leader Staff Member

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    Another issue. Whether your iPhone is 100% charged, or 50%, once you slip this case on, it simply keeps charging the phone (losing charge much faster in the process). Now this is a waste of energy and power. Apple should configure the software to charge once the battery level drops beyond a certain %, or use the case directly as a power source (if it is supported thru the Lighting port). But charging the phone unnecessarily, means you disconnect the charger from the case, and the case starts draining, even if you're not using your phone, thanks to charging resistance and energy loss.

    I saw the case drop to like 84-86% in about 40 minutes. Which is an absolute waste!
     

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