Teardown of Apple's Smart Battery Case exposes 1,877mAh battery, simple design

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in iPhone
Apple's new Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 6 and 6s uses a relatively simple construction, centered around a 1,877 milliamp-hour battery sitting behind an aluminum plate, according to a teardown published on Thursday.




The battery more than doubles the 1,715 milliamp-hour capacity of an iPhone 6s, iFixit remarked. Despite the case's name, however, most of the "smart" aspects are believed to be supported through paired iPhones, since the only two integrated circuit modules inside are a NXP NX20P3 load switch -- also used in Lighting-to-USB cables -- and the same NXP 1608A1 charging IC found in Apple's latest Magic peripherals for the Mac.

The case uses a soft but reinforced elastomer hinge to let users slide their iPhone in and out with ease. The aluminum plate serves not just as a door to the battery compartment but as further structural support, since much of the rest of the case is made of rubber and hard plastic.

As might be expected, the case is essentially impossible to repair. The battery can technically be replaced, but doing so is tough because of glue and the high chance of destroying the case's microfiber liner.

The Smart Battery Case was launched on Tuesday in a surprise announcement, and has so far proven controversial, thanks to its high $99 pricetag and a design some have called ugly. On Wednesday Apple CEO Tim Cook took umbrage at people calling the battery bulge "the hump," insisting that it's necessary to make the case simple to install and remove.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    jony0jony0 Posts: 268member
    "As might be expected, the case is essentially impossible to repair. " What the heck is there to repair ? The battery is most likely well over 90 % of the cost, when it's done, move on. As far as the hump goes, it's indeed not pretty but the design allows for a Lightning connector in a chin that will fit in docks, while the top allows for easy installation. It's a case in point of function over form, yet this will still unlikely not put the tired old 'form over function' meme to rest though.
    tallest skilmike1tgr1
  • Reply 2 of 24
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    While some of the ongoing features make the case an interesting one for someone who REALLY burns through power(draining the case first, easily displaying the power level stuff of both the device and the case), I'm not a fan of burdening the phone that way and prefer, for my use case anyway (a long travel day for instance) a simple battery stick I can plug into the phone when, or if, it's getting low and otherwise just have that rattling around at the bottom of my messenger bag or wherever. Keeping the phone pocket light is a plus IMHO.
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Just looking at it I get the impression that the "hump" will feel comfortable in the palm of the hand when talking on the phone. I have yet to find a case that looks attractive though I am sure they exist. The bottom line is that they are in most cases a necessary accessory. I do agree that the price is high for this particular case but it is an Apple product and their build quality is seldom surpassed.
    redgeminipa
  • Reply 4 of 24
    jfc1138 said:
    While some of the ongoing features make the case an interesting one for someone who REALLY burns through power(draining the case first, easily displaying the power level stuff of both the device and the case), I'm not a fan of burdening the phone that way and prefer, for my use case anyway (a long travel day for instance) a simple battery stick I can plug into the phone when, or if, it's getting low and otherwise just have that rattling around at the bottom of my messenger bag or wherever. Keeping the phone pocket light is a plus IMHO.
    From what I was told in the store yesterday, when you put it on a fully charged iPhone, it will use the case battery first, in essence, acting like your phone is plugged in. So this should, again, in theory, save the internal iPhone battery charge cycles.
    Solinolamacguymike1redgeminipa
  • Reply 5 of 24
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,387member
    I wonder if this Smart Case is more of a test for the iPhone 6, with the real plans for the iPhone 7 which the rumours say will be thinner and have inductive charging. This Smart Case could employ an inductive charging bands in the case next year that will then allow for charging even whilst using the case and Apple may need to update their MFi program to allow for that condition with iDevices in the near future.





    jony0 said:
    "As might be expected, the case is essentially impossible to repair. " What the heck is there to repair ? The battery is most likely well over 90 % of the cost, when it's done, move on.
    1a) Because they did a teardown, you and everyone else knows exactly what there is to repair. Surprisingly it got a 2/10 which means some readers will actually repair something or be able to rig it to work in a different way.

    1b) Regardless, remember that iFixit's razor handles are these teardowns and repair guides; their razor blades are the tools and parts they sell to accomplish the repairs. On top of that, iFixit is more likely to teardown everything from Apple because, well, it's free advertising for them. For $99 and an hour of time they get how many websites and how many eyeballs from around the world seeing their name and going to their site? If they could do a Teardown of the Jobs Family megayacht, Venus, they would.

    2a) If the battery actually does die, it's not under warranty, and the case is oddly in great shape, it would considerably less expensive to buy a replacement battery of that capacity. Just look what they call iPhone batteries at.

    2b) Regarding the warranty, Apple has been very good about their accessories. I use their Apple-branding (not Beats) in-earphones. If anything goes wrong with them, like the rubber ear piece is ripped, missing, or if the cord gets pulled so it frays, they will replace it no questioned asked, so long as you have an Apple product that could use that accessory under warranty.


    wmtalbott said:
    Just looking at it I get the impression that the "hump" will feel comfortable in the palm of the hand when talking on the phone. I have yet to find a case that looks attractive though I am sure they exist. The bottom line is that they are in most cases a necessary accessory. I do agree that the price is high for this particular case but it is an Apple product and their build quality is seldom surpassed.
    It does feel nice, but most of that is probably from the material they use. I think the bump adds to that texture somewhat when grabbing the device blind, but I'd like to see what they could do with more stepping of the battery, like in the MacBook, but they also need to consider how that's going to work with various iPhone stands.
    edited December 2015 redgeminipa
  • Reply 6 of 24
    wmtalbott said:
    Just looking at it I get the impression that the "hump" will feel comfortable in the palm of the hand when talking on the phone. I have yet to find a case that looks attractive though I am sure they exist. The bottom line is that they are in most cases a necessary accessory. I do agree that the price is high for this particular case but it is an Apple product and their build quality is seldom surpassed.
    Someone on another forum was allowed to try one out at an Apple Store and said it feels great in the hand. I get the feeling people who actually use it will have a different opinion than those just looking at a picture of it. And yeah there are other battery cases with a bigger battery but they weigh a lot more too and are bulkier. If you're on your phone 24/7 and need a much bigger second battery get a Mophie, or get a 6 Plus instead.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,749member
    jfc1138 said:
    While some of the ongoing features make the case an interesting one for someone who REALLY burns through power(draining the case first, easily displaying the power level stuff of both the device and the case), I'm not a fan of burdening the phone that way and prefer, for my use case anyway (a long travel day for instance) a simple battery stick I can plug into the phone when, or if, it's getting low and otherwise just have that rattling around at the bottom of my messenger bag or wherever. Keeping the phone pocket light is a plus IMHO.
    From what I was told in the store yesterday, when you put it on a fully charged iPhone, it will use the case battery first, in essence, acting like your phone is plugged in. So this should, again, in theory, save the internal iPhone battery charge cycles.

    Very smart way of handling it. Like jettisoning an external fuel pod on a fighter jet.
    jfc1138Prof_Peabody
  • Reply 8 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,289member
    wmtalbott said:
    Just looking at it I get the impression that the "hump" will feel comfortable in the palm of the hand when talking on the phone. I have yet to find a case that looks attractive though I am sure they exist. The bottom line is that they are in most cases a necessary accessory. I do agree that the price is high for this particular case but it is an Apple product and their build quality is seldom surpassed.
    Someone on another forum was allowed to try one out at an Apple Store and said it feels great in the hand. I get the feeling people who actually use it will have a different opinion than those just looking at a picture of it. And yeah there are other battery cases with a bigger battery but they weigh a lot more too and are bulkier. If you're on your phone 24/7 and need a much bigger second battery get a Mophie, or get a 6 Plus instead.
    The free weights at my gym have a "hump" in the middle of the handle.  I enjoy using those versus regular straight-handle barbells because it fells better in my hand.  I immediately thought the same thing when I saw this case.  

    I have a 6+ so nothing for me.. yet.. but I like the idea.  I suspect those with bigger hands will find that case more to their liking.
  • Reply 9 of 24
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    jfc1138 said:
    While some of the ongoing features make the case an interesting one for someone who REALLY burns through power(draining the case first, easily displaying the power level stuff of both the device and the case), I'm not a fan of burdening the phone that way and prefer, for my use case anyway (a long travel day for instance) a simple battery stick I can plug into the phone when, or if, it's getting low and otherwise just have that rattling around at the bottom of my messenger bag or wherever. Keeping the phone pocket light is a plus IMHO.
    From what I was told in the store yesterday, when you put it on a fully charged iPhone, it will use the case battery first, in essence, acting like your phone is plugged in. So this should, again, in theory, save the internal iPhone battery charge cycles.
    That's a good point, were I routinely needing to 'top up" my phone, better to top up the case than the internal phone battery for just that lifetime reason.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    I wish iFixit would just go away.  The whole premise of repairability for most of the devices they tear-down is nonsense.  Especially with this power case, which is literally impossible to dissemble without *destroying* it!  

    Here's a hint dumbasses, if you have to do a *destructive* tear-down, then what you are doing cannot by definition have anything to do with "repairability" can it?  That's simple logic.  
    redgeminipa
  • Reply 11 of 24
    jony0 said:
    "As might be expected, the case is essentially impossible to repair. " What the heck is there to repair ? The battery is most likely well over 90 % of the cost, when it's done, move on. As far as the hump goes, it's indeed not pretty but the design allows for a Lightning connector in a chin that will fit in docks, while the top allows for easy installation. It's a case in point of function over form, yet this will still unlikely not put the tired old 'form over function' meme to rest though.
    I mostly agree with what you're saying here, but I would argue that this product (like it or not), has an almost perfect blending of function and form and is therefore a good design.  It's neither "function over form" nor "form over function."

    Also, when designers talk about form in regards design, they mean the shape of something, not it's attractiveness (or lack of it).  "Pretty" or "not pretty" has very little to do with industrial design, or design in general.  
  • Reply 12 of 24
    jony0 said:
    "As might be expected, the case is essentially impossible to repair. " What the heck is there to repair ? The battery is most likely well over 90 % of the cost, when it's done, move on. As far as the hump goes, it's indeed not pretty but the design allows for a Lightning connector in a chin that will fit in docks, while the top allows for easy installation. It's a case in point of function over form, yet this will still unlikely not put the tired old 'form over function' meme to rest though.
    I mostly agree with what you're saying here, but I would argue that this product (like it or not), has an almost perfect blending of function and form and is therefore a good design.  It's neither "function over form" nor "form over function."

    Also, when designers talk about form in regards design, they mean the shape of something, not it's attractiveness (or lack of it).  "Pretty" or "not pretty" has very little to do with industrial design, or design in general.  
    Unfortunately that's not what the general public thinks. They think Jony Ive is all about making things "pretty". Until of course they do but it doesn't function the way someone wants; then Jony Ive is an asshole for not considering functionality.
    Prof_Peabody
  • Reply 13 of 24
    Where is the antenna booster?
  • Reply 14 of 24
    jony0 said:
    "As might be expected, the case is essentially impossible to repair. " What the heck is there to repair ? The battery is most likely well over 90 % of the cost, when it's done, move on. As far as the hump goes, it's indeed not pretty but the design allows for a Lightning connector in a chin that will fit in docks, while the top allows for easy installation. It's a case in point of function over form, yet this will still unlikely not put the tired old 'form over function' meme to rest though.
    I mostly agree with what you're saying here, but I would argue that this product (like it or not), has an almost perfect blending of function and form and is therefore a good design.  It's neither "function over form" nor "form over function."

    Also, when designers talk about form in regards design, they mean the shape of something, not it's attractiveness (or lack of it).  "Pretty" or "not pretty" has very little to do with industrial design, or design in general.  
    Actually it's neither "function over form" nor "form over Function". In a good design, "form follows function". And in the Smart Covers' case, it absolutely does. 
  • Reply 15 of 24
    mike1 said:
    jfc1138 said:
    While some of the ongoing features make the case an interesting one for someone who REALLY burns through power(draining the case first, easily displaying the power level stuff of both the device and the case), I'm not a fan of burdening the phone that way and prefer, for my use case anyway (a long travel day for instance) a simple battery stick I can plug into the phone when, or if, it's getting low and otherwise just have that rattling around at the bottom of my messenger bag or wherever. Keeping the phone pocket light is a plus IMHO.
    From what I was told in the store yesterday, when you put it on a fully charged iPhone, it will use the case battery first, in essence, acting like your phone is plugged in. So this should, again, in theory, save the internal iPhone battery charge cycles.

    Very smart way of handling it. Like jettisoning an external fuel pod on a fighter jet.
    Best analogy of the day  :)
  • Reply 16 of 24
    jfc1138 said:
    While some of the ongoing features make the case an interesting one for someone who REALLY burns through power(draining the case first, easily displaying the power level stuff of both the device and the case), I'm not a fan of burdening the phone that way and prefer, for my use case anyway (a long travel day for instance) a simple battery stick I can plug into the phone when, or if, it's getting low and otherwise just have that rattling around at the bottom of my messenger bag or wherever. Keeping the phone pocket light is a plus IMHO.
    From what I was told in the store yesterday, when you put it on a fully charged iPhone, it will use the case battery first, in essence, acting like your phone is plugged in. So this should, again, in theory, save the internal iPhone battery charge cycles.
    On the other hand, adding to my confusion, is that rechargeable batteries, at least some depending on the tech behind them, require them to be discharged *occasionally* to preserve the battery.

    I've had to replace the batteries on both my and my daughter's MBP's because they only had a very limited number of recharges over a few years, and were kept generally fully charge during their lifetimes. 

    Of course, the battery technology may be quite different between MBP's and iPhones/ipads, etc. 

    On the other hand, we can assume Apple knew what they were doing. 
  • Reply 17 of 24
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,387member
    @Prof_Peabody, what did you find disagreeable about my post?
  • Reply 18 of 24
    I wish iFixit would just go away.  The whole premise of repairability for most of the devices they tear-down is nonsense.  Especially with this power case, which is literally impossible to dissemble without *destroying* it!  

    Here's a hint dumbasses, if you have to do a *destructive* tear-down, then what you are doing cannot by definition have anything to do with "repairability" can it?  That's simple logic.  
    There is no need to take what they do personally, it is only some plastic and metal.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    Love the new Apple Smart Battery case. It's comfortable to hold, still fits nicely in my pant's pocket, and easily lasts twice as long as my 6s alone. Pricey, but worth it.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,131member
    I have no problem with the look and feel of this thing. 
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