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The best thing about Apple's new iPhone battery case is I don't need it

At the end of 2019, I've come to appreciate that the iPhone is finally fine with battery... but there's more if you want it.

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Apple's newest Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 11 Plus. It adds a boost... but so far I haven't found it necessary.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A funny thing about Apple's newest smart battery case for the iPhone 11 and 11 Plus: I don't need it. 

Years ago, I begged for better battery life on iPhones. Battery cases were the bulky lifeline I needed to get through a day without panic. At a big all-day show like CES in Las Vegas, a battery pack was essential.

I put Apple's Smart Battery Case for the 11 Pro to the test on my NJ Transit commute, and it's a fine extra boost. The battery capacity seems to offer about half as much battery life as the phone itself, though, which isn't the same as the 2x boost I used to get on battery cases.

But in this case's case, it's more a testament to how much battery life the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro already pack. I knew this when I first reviewed the iPhones earlier this year, and in realistic everyday use it's still not the perfect all-day and then some fix that I'd love... but it's close enough. It's close enough that I now can make it through most days and only need a bit of a recharge for a security blanket.

Read more: Best iPhone 11 and 11 Pro cases you can get now  

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The Smart Battery Case still has a hump, like always, but also a dedicated camera button on the side.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I'm about to head out once again to Las Vegas for CES, a show where I'll be on my feet early morning to late night, shooting photos and video, tweeting, streaming and keeping that phone pretty active. In a place like Vegas, a battery case can still be pretty key. The silicone-texture case and its weird battery hump are the same as before. At least it's easy to grip, and the weight well-balanced.

A new dedicated camera button on the side seems like a great idea, launching the camera app with a single press... but I find hunting it down and getting the right grip not worth the effort. I'm still pulling open the phone and using it the same way I always do for shots. Maybe muscle memory will take over to make me favor the camera button more.

There are other battery case options, but Apple's has Lightning cable pass-through, can recharge via Qi or Lightning and shows its battery status in the iPhone's iOS battery widget. It's really good. But while I might want it in certain instances, I don't need it anymore. Battery life on iPhones finally crossed the threshold in 2019, and I couldn't be happier.