Apple's New Product We Thought was a Joke at First

Apple is a polarizing name these days. Either you love the company for its simple-but-elegantly-functional products, or you hate it for its absurd prices and extreme lack of customizability. Both perspectives are completely reasonable, but no matter which side of the Apple fanboy fence you fall on, I want to implore you: don’t buy Apple’s new iPhone battery case.

Yes, in case you didn’t know, the company is now selling an Apple-made “smart” battery case. The case, which slunk quietly onto Apple’s web stores yesterday, will fit your iPhone 6 or 6s and promises “increased talk time up to 25 hours.”

Sounds great, right? No. It is terrible. Let me count the ways that’s the case (no pun intended).

1. Ugly aesthetics

Apple is pretty famous for its ability to craft devices that are both beautiful and functional, but obviously its good designers were all on break when this battery case was created, because it looks awful. It looks like your iPhone is pregnant with an iPod. It looks like you’ve strapped an extra battery to the back of your phone with electrical tape. Coming from Apple, the inelegant approach is really kind of shocking, especially when other companies have already produced much cleaner designs.

And of course, since it’s an Apple product, here’s hoping you’re happy with a black or white case, because there aren’t any other color choices. Whatever happened to the company that made those colorful iMacs? Why did Apple decide all of its high-end products have to be black and white?

2. Weak power for the price

The Apple iPhone smart battery case will run you US$100, which gets you an extra 1,877mAh battery. Apple doesn’t share that number on its site, and there’s a reason for it: the power-to-price ratio is terrible. It’s not even enough power to fully recharge your iPhone if the battery runs out. That doesn’t mean it’s useless, but it does mean it’s overpriced. For your money, you could get a lot more power.

For example, if you insist on spending US$100, you could get a Morphie Juicepack Air, which sports a 2,750mAh battery and a smoother aesthetic.

But you don’t need to spend anywhere near that much to get that kind of power. You could get a 2,850mAh battery in the Anker Ultra Slim case, which is The Wirecutter’s top-rated iPhone case and which is currently on sale for US$30. For that price you could get three extra battery cases with a combined 4.5 times the power capacity of Apple’s smart battery case while still having spent US$10 less than the Apple case will cost you. Anker also makes a premium case with a sexier look and 3,100mAh of power that still costs under US$50.

And if you don’t like any of those, there are tons of other options out there as well. Virtually all of them offer more power for less money than Apple’s case.

3. “Smart” features

Apple’s likely justification for the high price point would be that the phone comes with “smart” features, but generally speaking these aren’t selling points. The fact that you can see the case’s charge status right in the iPhone’s pull-down menu is nice, and it’s convenient to be able to charge the case with the same lightning cable your phone uses. But other than that this case is actually kind of dumb.

For example: you can’t turn it on and off, meaning that if you’re going to be away from power for a long time, the only way you can be sure you’ll have enough juice at the end of your trip to use your phone would be to take the battery case off. Otherwise it’ll automatically drain itself charging your phone. If you’re just grabbing a battery case to get you through the weekend on one charge this likely won’t matter, but if you’re out in the bush doing fieldwork and need to be sure you’ll have GPS on your way back home, it could be a major annoyance.

Also: the light that indicates the case’s charge status is inside the case, meaning you can’t actually see it when the phone is in the case. Since you can see the charge status in the phone’s pull-down menu that doesn’t matter too much, but it’s still a pretty odd decision.

Finally, Apple has not come up with a smart solution to the headphone jack problem. Like many other battery cases, Apple’s smart battery case simply won’t fit many headphone plugs (your Apple headphones will work, though) unless you have a jack extender. But unlike many third-party battery cases, the Apple case doesn’t come with a jack extender. If you want one, you’ll have to buy it separately once it’s available.

Apple has made some clever, functional, and beautiful products in its day. This case is not one of them. If you’re thinking of gifting a battery case this Christmas, I highly suggest you look elsewhere and get something that’ll give your loved ones more power while costing you less money.

This post Disconnect: Apple’s new battery case is awful. Please do not buy it. appeared first on Tech in Asia.