Also this year Apple has renewed its range of Smart Battery Case for new iPhones, presenting the version dedicated to iPhone 11, Pro version and 11 Pro Max.
In 2019 we witnessed the return of this interesting accessory, which seemed to have started on the sunset avenue, after Apple in the previous two years did not create a dedicated version Phone X. At the beginning of last year, models designed for the two iPhone XS (the basic model and the Max model) and the XR, followed approximately 10 months after those designed for the iPhone 2019 family.
So here we are talking about the latest models, in particular of the one dedicated to iPhone 11 Pro, the most compact top of the range (but that does not give up anything, as said in our review) in the Apple price list. Compared to the houses presented at the beginning of 2019, the new versions integrate one slightly larger battery (arrives at 10.9 Wh, against 10.1 Wh) and a new physical button dedicated to the camera.
I had the opportunity to test the Smart Battery Case for almost a month, during which I happened to test it in the scenario that perhaps manages to bring out the maximum potential of the accessory: a holiday abroad.
Yes, because it is precisely in this kind of situation that the advantages that this solution can offer compared to alternative proposals or even compared to the choice not to buy any case with battery can be better perceived, while continuing to rely instead on the traditional coupled powerbank + dangling cable .
A REALLY SMART CASE
But let's start with a few facts, before going into the impressions. The Smart Battery Case for iPhone 11 Pro keeps its promise to offer about 50% more autonomy than that obtained with the smartphone battery alone. The case is also equipped with a series of measures that make it profoundly different from any other third party alternative on the market.
Although the use of adjectives for technological products has now become almost cloying, the Smart present in the name of this accessory was not inserted at random. The cover is in fact able to communicate with iOS and this allows you to access some interesting bonuses.
The first is to be able to consult the charge status of the cover directly from the lock screen, from the Batteries widget (which also provides you with the data on the status of an Apple Watch or AirPods) and through a voice command with Siri (just ask "How much battery is left?" To have a complete recap of the charge of each connected device).
Furthermore, iPhone is well aware that it is powered by the Smart Battery Case and not by the mains power supply and this prevents the smartphone from activating all those synchronization processes additional things that happen when you leave your phone charging, such as uploading photos and more. In short, the smartphone perceives the presence of the additional battery and not a generic power source. This causes the charge to come preserved even more effectively.
In addition to this, iPhone (or better, iOS) will manage the energy supply in a more intelligent way, by drawing the power directly from the case, therefore without placing the internal battery in a continuous state of charge / discharge. This, of course, as long as the iPhone charge is 100%, otherwise the common charging process will start.
Even the charging of the case and smartphone (if joined) takes place in a smart way is it adapts according to the type of charger used and the power it can supply. When recharged together, the internal battery of the iPhone always has priority and that of the case is powered only if the charger is actually able to supply enough energy to charge both simultaneously. Otherwise, for example when using an old 5W charger, the battery of the cover will be recharged only when the iPhone battery is full. Using more powerful chargers, the energy that is not needed to charge iPhone will be made available to the cover.
Finally it is good to report that the lightning connector on the housing has a pass-through, then you can use it to connect accessories, which will be detected by the iPhone just as if they were connected directly to the smartphone.
Personally, I found it much more effective to always start the day with the Smart Battery Case equipped, and then remove it only when the battery of the case was exhausted (although in some cases I preferred to continue to keep it, both to take advantage of the greater protection offered, both for access the camera key, but I'll talk about it later).
This way you can get the most out of the case's battery, without wasting precious energy in the charging process. Generally I could see that a full charge of the Smart Battery Case is able to provide up to 4 hours of use of the display. The duration during the day varies significantly according to the type of activity carried out.
During an intense day of travel in the London Underground (with many areas with 0 network coverage, therefore greater consumption in standby), massive use of the camera, maps and Pokémon GO, I came to consume the full charge of the case around 15:00, while on lighter days the discharge always takes place between 22:00 and midnight, based on what I did during the day.
This is a very convincing result, which makes the Smart Battery Case an important ally during long journeys, when it is necessary to be able to count on a greater autonomy than that usually offered. In all other cases, the iPhones of 2019, in fact, already offer interesting results in this respect and make the Smart Battery Case a product perhaps "less necessary"That in the past, especially for the common user.
CAMERA BUTTON: USEFUL AND CONVENIENT
The models of this year therefore point to expand the user base even through one greater range of features that can make the accessory useful also in other scenarios. The novelty of the latest models is represented by the physical button for quick access to the camera, which adds to the support for wireless charging already integrated also on the cases for the XS / XR family.
The button is located on the right side of the case and allows you to start the camera, take a photo or shoot a video. The latter can be started by continuously pressing the shutter release button (mimicking the long press of the screen button, then the recording stops as soon as you loosen the socket), while opening the camera requires that the button is pressed for about 1 second, this to avoid unintentional starts given by pressing with other objects in the pocket.
This addition makes the Smart Battery Case even more versatile, especially in all those situations where it is not possible to interact directly with the smartphone screen (for example, while wearing gloves and still wanting to take a photo); it is clear, it is nothing revolutionary, but it is still a plus that can be comfortable and that offers additional added value to an accessory that is born with a completely different purpose.
DESIGN AND ERGONOMICS
The Smart Battery Case is certainly not a champion of beauty, having said that I can say that the general design and the quality of the materials used is significantly higher than the other proposals that can be found on the market. So if you can say with certainty that there are no alternatives regarding the "technology" offered by this accessory, also from an aesthetic and material point of view, it can be confirmed that the Smart Battery Case is a product with few rivals.
The outer shell increases the grip thanks to the rubber coating, while the inner part wraps the smartphone with a pleasant microfiber that we also find on other Apple cases. Always inside there is also a small LED that indicates the state of charge, useful in case you want to recharge the case yourself. Also this proposal, like the one at the beginning of 2019, adopts thinner edges than they reduce a little the remote control effect that we had with the Smart Battery Cases dedicated to iPhone 6s, 7 and 8, while the sense of high protection offered by this type of case remains unchanged.
As mentioned above, on several occasions I preferred to continue using it even when downloading, so as to better protect iPhone in some lively contexts, however it is good not to underestimate the increase in weight that you are going through. An iPhone 11 Pro with a smart Battery Case weighs 288 grams, not many in an absolute sense, but it is a weight that significantly alters the ergonomics and pleasantness of use of the one-handed device.
This year as never before, the Smart Battery Case becomes a less necessary accessory than in the past, thanks to the autonomy of all the iPhone 2019 models. However, this also means that the purchase of this case will allow you to face any scenario of use without ever having to worry about the residual autonomy. The addition of camera key it is also a plus that perhaps was not necessary but in reality complete the equipment of the case (although the button only works with the stock camera app).
If analyzed in an empty space, therefore without taking into account other variables, the Smart Battery Case at the end of 2019 is an absolutely recommended purchase for all those who travel frequently and they need extra momentum of autonomy. I'm not only talking about the owners of one of the iPhone 11, but also everyone who uses an iPhone X or XS, since the case also works with previous models (tested with iPhone X), camera key included (note: the key alignment may not be perfect, but you can use them without problems).
Unfortunately, however, we must consider the selling price and the 149 euros requested in the price list are certainly not few, far from it. The alternative solutions have a significantly lower cost, although none of these is able to offer the same care in managing the battery and all the other aspects mentioned in the review.
So if you are not willing to give up on this side, even in the face of a significantly higher expense, the Smart Battery Case of late 2019 is the right choice, especially if you intend to exploit it for several years, amortizing the cost over time. If, on the other hand, your eyes are already focused on the iPhone 2020, then perhaps it is better to avoid such an important purchase.