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iPhone XS, iPhone XR: What you need to know about Apple's Smart Battery Case

If your iPhone's battery needs a bump, the Smart Battery Case fits the bill.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple surprised everyone earlier this week with the launch of new Smart Battery Cases for the 2018 iPhone ($752 at Amazon) line. The cases look similar to the previous version, and do the same basic job -- provide extra battery life to your iPhone.

You can order the cases right now from Apple, with in-store availability expected next week. Here's what you need to know about the Smart Battery Case, your iPhone and how they work together. 

Now playing: Watch this: How deep can the iPhone XS and XR go?


The new Smart Battery Case is available for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max ($273 at Amazon), and iPhone XR ($449 at Amazon). Regardless of model, they all cost $129 and come in black or white.

With the iPhone X and iPhone XS being similar in design, the Smart Battery Case for the XS will work on the X. However, the speakers and microphone may not line up, but it will charge your phone.

The basics

You'll need to charge the Smart Battery Case before you can use it. I put my iPhone XS Max in my case and there wasn't enough of a charge in the case for the iPhone to recognize it.

You can use the wall adapter and Lightning cable that came with your iPhone or a wireless charging pad to charge the case.

On the inside of the case, near the bottom, is a small light that will light up with an orange color when the case is charging. When it's fully charged, the light will turn green.

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When you put your phone in the case, you'll see a familiar charging animation in the top-right corner of your phone's display. If your phone is locked, two battery icons will display on your screen -- one for your phone, another for the case. You can also view the battery status in the Today view as long as you have the Battery widget activated. 

The Smart Battery Case will deplete itself throughout the day. Only after the case is empty will your iPhone begin to use its internal battery.

You shouldn't have any issues using Lightning accessories, such as Apple's Lightning EarPods.

Smart Charging

Charging the case can be done a couple of different ways, and how the case and your phone work in tandem to both get charged depends on the charging power of your wall adapter. This is all built into iOS and something your iPhone manages without you having to do a thing.

Apple calls the feature Smart Charging.

Here's the gist:

  • With the 5W charger that comes with your iPhone, your phone charges first, then the case.
  • With a 10W or 12W wall adapter, the phone and the case will charge at the same time at a rate of around 5W each.
  • With an 18W wall adapter, the iPhone will fast-charge first, and then the case will do the same.
  • A 30W or higher wall adapter will fast-charge both the iPhone and case at the same time.

With the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR all featuring wireless charging, it only makes sense that Apple built wireless charging into the Smart Battery Case. Meaning, if you have the case installed on your iPhone, you can place it on a Qi-compatible wireless charging pad and your phone and case will begin charging.

The case works with the same 7.5W charging speed as the iPhone, with your phone charging first, and then the case doing so afterward.