The Dent

"We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?" - Steve Jobs

The iPhone 11 Pro Max Smart Battery Case

Back in February, I wrote a review for the, then new, iPhone Smart Battery Case for the iPhone XS.

While I had mixed feelings about the case, I summarised my feelings thusly:

All in all, I’d say if you really need an extra boost of life in your phone, you’d get no better quality and integration than Apple’s own case, though I wouldn’t recommend using it every day. Unless you like your phone feeling like a brick phone from the 80s that is. Each to their own, however. Given the price, I can’t justify the case sitting in my drawer for the majority of the year so it will be going back to Apple, but I will consider picking one up again should the need for longer battery life become more frequent for me.

I now no longer have that case, or the iPhone XS if once adorned. I upgraded to the iPhone 11 Pro Max in September and with it came an incredible battery performance boost. At the time Apple claimed it could out perform the iPhone XS Max’s battery by 5 hours and it definitely does perform admirably.

The incredible battery life, coupled with my less than perfect relationship with the case first time round, made me instantly dismiss the new Smart Battery Case for iPhone 11 Pro Max. And then I saw the camera button …

Now, fast forward a day and my Pro Max is wrapped in another hideous battery case, but this time it has a camera button. I’m not going to review the case here. There’s nothing much I can add that I haven’t said already though I did want to share a few thoughts about that camera button, and what’s changed for me.

Firstly, design-wise, it does feel a little strange. The button itself is at the bottom right hand side of the case, when looking at your phone. The button feels slightly oddly placed, in that it’s near the back, not centred on the side as I imagined it would be. It’s also recessed a little, and the button is concave, curving into the device. I would imagine both things are true so as to avoid accidental presses, which works me and I think it’s more visually pleasing than a further protruding button. A finger rests nicely in the little groove it sits in. Movement on the button itself is smooth, yet robust feeling.

Upon first pressing the button, once I added it to my device, I thought it was not working. A short tap on the button has no effect, you instead need to hold the button down for about a second or two. While, obviously, that’s a tiny amount of time, it did feel like it should be a bit more responsive and when you’re expecting a result to be instantaneous it’s a little jarring. While it feels like it should launch quicker, I also believe this is again a safety feature to prevent a million accidental pocket photos. To this end, the delay does make a lot of sense.

I had the last battery case for a few days before returning it and nothing about the old one that I disliked has changed. I still really don’t like the silicone material, it’s pretty ugly, it makes my svelte and beautiful phone a heavy and chunky monstrosity and yet, I think this time I’ll be keeping it. As Habib wrote in his article on Chambyte, it’s going to come in handy for longer photo walks and days out. My mistake last time was thinking that this would be my new case. It’s really not feasible for every day use and frankly it’s not necessary, given how good the battery is on the iPhone 11 Pro Max. I will instead be treating it as the accessory it was meant to be. A case that can be put on, as and when needed, when you need that little extra juice. An additional 50% battery life, which the case provides, is not an insignificant amount, so I’m sure I will get value from the device.

Taking the case on and off is simple enough, though I’m interested to see how well it lasts over time. To remove it you need to bend the top back, so you can slide the bottom of your phone out, so it disconnects from the small protruding lightning connector at the bottom. It feels like, after a few tries at that, the silicone / rubber may start to crack, but I’ll see how it goes I guess.

All in all, this case will spend more time in my drawer than it will on my phone, I imagine, but this time I’m okay with that. When it does come out and onto my phone it’ll be the perfect camera case and companion and will easily get me through whatever I want to throw at it.