Introduction

In one of the least Apple-y moves in history, Apple released the Smart Battery Case, and it's ugly. Rumors about this unexpected accessory are flying thick and fast, let's open this pack up to see how it works.

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This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Smart Battery Case, use our service manual.

Image 1/1: Up to 25 hours of talk time, 18 hours of Internet use on LTE, and 20 hours of video playback
  • Some "smart" specs for your perusal:

    • Up to 25 hours of talk time, 18 hours of Internet use on LTE, and 20 hours of video playback

    • Lightning Connector

    • Microfiber interior, silicone exterior

    • Compatible with iPhone Lightning Dock

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Image 1/3: With some clever ducting, Apple turned the downward-facing speaker into a forward-facing speaker. Image 2/3: Smart move, Apple! Users seems to enjoy front-facing speakers, could this be a test run for future iPhone designs? Image 3/3: The microphone ''also'' faces forward, and has the same extra grille over it as the speaker port.
  • Printed on the soft microfiber lining we spot the battery case's model number: A1585.

  • With some clever ducting, Apple turned the downward-facing speaker into a forward-facing speaker.

    • Smart move, Apple! Users seems to enjoy front-facing speakers, could this be a test run for future iPhone designs?

  • The microphone also faces forward, and has the same extra grille over it as the speaker port.

  • The audiophile in us can't help but wonder how these changes will affect sound quality.

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Image 1/3: Jk...Probably. Image 2/3: While the Smart Battery needs its own external Lightning connector to charge and pass data through to the iPhone within, 3.5 mm headphone jack connectivity is provided in the form of...a hole. Image 3/3: As expected, the pass-through hole is perfectly sized for your iPhone's included Apple Earpods.
  • The back of the battery case boasts its most important feature: an iPhone 4 backpack!

    • Jk...Probably.

  • While the Smart Battery needs its own external Lightning connector to charge and pass data through to the iPhone within, 3.5 mm headphone jack connectivity is provided in the form of...a hole.

    • As expected, the pass-through hole is perfectly sized for your iPhone's included Apple Earpods.

    • However, for anything bigger, you'll need some sort of adapter. No fancy studio-size jacks for this pack.

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Image 1/2: Luckily, your ''camera's'' flash shouldn't be affected. Image 2/2: The case ~~features a "soft elastomer hinge design"~~ is bendy above the battery bulge, to allow sliding the phone in and out.
  • For you rose golders out there, you're going to suffer some reduced flashiness, as this case covers most of the shiny metal body.

    • Luckily, your camera's flash shouldn't be affected.

  • The case features a "soft elastomer hinge design" is bendy above the battery bulge, to allow sliding the phone in and out.

    • This works pretty well. You probably won't want to do it every day, but there's probably some kind of reinforcement in there (more on that later).

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  • Just like Apple's last "Smart" device, this is going to be an unavoidably destructive teardown. Buckle up!

  • A hot iOpener softens the adhesive securing the soft lining, then some deft prying power peels the cloth layer away.

  • Peeling back the lining we get our first look at the "brushed" aluminum underneath.

    • We're theorizing that those unsightly scratches are there to improve the adhesive's bond.

  • We also spot a mesh interfacing that strengthens the silicone hinge, preventing fatigue damage. Cool!

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  • A tiny hole in the microfiber lets the LED charging indicator shine through—an indicator you'll only actually see if you're charging your battery case without an iPhone in it.

    • So, approximately never.

  • Having unearthed a set of (unexpected!) T3 Torx screws, we get to work doing what we do best!

    • Today's screw-turning action is brought to you courtesy of our new 64 Bit Driver Kit.

  • This metal plate is a handy door into the battery compartment, and serves to both stiffen the case and protect the battery.

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Image 1/3: First things first, we disconnect the battery to prevent accidental shorts or discharges. Always nice to see a battery with a connector like this, so we don't have to bust out the soldering iron. Image 2/3: The battery is very strongly adhered in place—probably so it can help stiffen the case to protect its precious cargo—your brand new iPhone 6s. Image 3/3: With 7.13 Whr (1877 mAh at 3.8 V) capacity, this battery more than doubles your [https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/iPhone+6s+Teardown/48170#s107877|iPhone 6s] (6.55 Whr) capacity.
  • Sweet, a battery connector!

    • First things first, we disconnect the battery to prevent accidental shorts or discharges. Always nice to see a battery with a connector like this, so we don't have to bust out the soldering iron.

  • The battery is very strongly adhered in place—probably so it can help stiffen the case to protect its precious cargo—your brand new iPhone 6s.

  • With 7.13 Whr (1877 mAh at 3.8 V) capacity, this battery more than doubles your iPhone 6s (6.55 Whr) capacity.

    • Although if raw power is what you're after, there are plenty of other options, with nearly double the power of the Smart Battery Case.

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  • With the battery out, we got started prying up the logic board...and followed its cable deep into the lower plasticy bits of the case.

  • Looks like we're gonna have to cut our way in anyways, so we're gonna take a shortcut and break a piece off of this Kit-Kat bar.

  • With the lower portion of the case removed, we get to work snipping off its plastic sheath. The entire case (except for the flexible hinge) is made of a hard plastic, seamlessly coated in soft silicone. Tough, but comfortable to hold.

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Image 1/3: The two Lightning connectors are housed on the same board, with its connecting cable wrapped around a plastic frame. Image 2/3: The two Lightning connectors are housed on the same board, with its connecting cable wrapped around a plastic frame. Image 3/3: The two Lightning connectors are housed on the same board, with its connecting cable wrapped around a plastic frame.
  • We're free! After some dedicated snipping, that had us harkening back to teardowns of yore, we extricate the parts that make this battery Smart.

  • The two Lightning connectors are housed on the same board, with its connecting cable wrapped around a plastic frame.

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Image 1/3: NXP NX20P3 load switch, also found in [http://www.chipworks.com/about-chipworks/overview/blog/inside-apple-lightning-cable|Lightning to USB cables|new_window=true] Image 2/3: NXP [https://chipworks.secure.force.com/catalog/ProductDetails?sku=NXP-1608A1|1608A1|new_window=true]  charging IC Image 3/3: NXP [https://chipworks.secure.force.com/catalog/ProductDetails?sku=NXP-1608A1|1608A1|new_window=true]  charging IC
  • For such a Smart battery, it looks like most of the brains probably live in software on your iPhone. We only find some rudimentary ICs inside:

Pins on both sides in the Lightning port?

(In other words, is this passthrough connector a part we might see reused in iPad Pro cases or a future iPhone/iPad using the iPad Pro's new double-sided Lightning receptacle?)

Scott - Reply

Image 1/2: Non-proprietary T3 Torx screws make repairs more accessible, but are covered by strongly-adhered microfiber liner. Image 2/2: Battery replacement is possible, but will likely destroy the microfiber liner.
  • Smart Battery repairability 2 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair):

    • Non-proprietary T3 Torx screws make repairs more accessible, but are covered by strongly-adhered microfiber liner.

    • Battery replacement is possible, but will likely destroy the microfiber liner.

    • The only possible repair—replacing the battery—is made difficult by very strong adhesive.

    • No other repairs are possible without destroying the device.

I got my phone case wet and now it doesnt charge anymore is there anything i can do

Nick Elias - Reply

17 Comments

So it's a workaround for all the dead phones that can't charge because of U2 chip failure from non-Apple charger usage. Make and sell an external U2 chip-on-a-backpack to provide your phone with an externally chargeable battery. Way to spin that one Apple. Nice save.

jessabethany - Reply

The phone still uses it's own charging IC, this IC is most likely only used for charging the battery in the case and feeding battery charge data (from the Ti chip in the base of the battery) back via the lightning port.

Slot1gamer -

Any word on the "passive antennas" Apple mentioned.

timothywilliamson - Reply

Same question, +1

Mark -

Something in the upper left of the 3rd pics on Step 5 & 6.

Scott -

Might it be in the 2nd photo of Step 9? It says C15, 821-005xxx, 43mm on it, looks like a flex.

iMakeit -

Just one simple question. Dose this set of chips work for all lightning iDevices?

I know the case size does't fit the iPhone 6/6S Plus and iPhone 5/5S. However, you guys have it teared down. At this stage, certainly you can give it a shot for other iDevices. Why test this? Well, if this set of chip works with other iDevices, we may able to see Apple or third party Battery Case soon. Since those cases on the market is not able to show the battery usage in the notification centre yet.

Gizardry - Reply

I dont understand why Apple never added a better speaker into the bottom of the case.

edwardleonard17 - Reply

So does it pass through the 3V of the LiPo or does it (inefficently) go 3V --> 5V then make the phone go 5V --> 3V like every other iPhone external battery?

Noah O'Donoghue - Reply

I would think the 3V (3.6-3.7) is a limit set by the battery technology. Why if it's gonna charge over the lightning contact it needs to be transformed to 5V. I'm afraid that the current phone designs will not allow for any other way.

Maye though one could go for 6V with dual battery cells, and then bring it down to 5V.

But that would more than double the risk for a faulty battery, and complicate the charging circuits that would need to balance the cells, and make sure it would not charge if one cell is broke. If balancing would fail the result could be fire and explosion.

So just the risk would have Apple not to opt for a 2 cell version.

T Est -

Rather than peeling the case apart, it looks like you could place a template over this case and cut through the backing only where needed to remove the plate. That would cause virtually no functional damage.

kevinmcm - Reply

Why would you want to remove the plate?

stephenferrari -

If the 'smarts' in this case are actually in the phone -that would suggest the features which set this case apart could be available for any battery case.

The only thing that's different is the iphone has some way of 'knowing' that this case is an Apple one.

I'm sure someone can make an app, possibly it would have to be a jailbreak tweak, that makes the iphone recognize all battery cases, not just the official apple one and we'd have the same 'smart' features for any case.

stephenferrari - Reply

I wonder since the Iphone 7 doesn't have a headphone jack.. Might they put a DAC into the bottom to restore it? Since they iPhone 7 is a bit thinner too, it might have less battery capacity. Though they did say they were able to "add" some more battery capacity because of the removed headphone jack, and the A10 (might) use less power. That would be a win-win for people who want more battery life, don't "mind the bump", and grumble about the lost headphone jack. But it might be harder to sell AirPods. Especially if we have a “AirpodFallingOut-gate”.

And defeats the purpose of removing it to begin with to force people to "move on". And get researchers to figure out how to make a lossless Bluetooth codec that can reliably synchronize with video and remove (most of) the "buffering time" when the connection drops out. Maybe go lossy for a bit, continue real-time audio, and re-build the buffer at the same time. I don't know much about codecs, so that idea might be completely off-base.

jimwitte - Reply

my phone case got wet what can i do

Nick Elias - Reply

Where could I find that battery? Looks like if I was just replacing that battery it wouldnt be very difficult, wouldnt damage much of anything, once you peel that felt off, it wouldnt look the prettiest after re-attaching but thats all behind the phone out of site anyway. Anyone/>?

Christian Postier - Reply

If you use hot air to warm the whole case up (like how samsung use a small low temp oven for their phones) the felt should come off in one piece and stick back like new (warm it back up to reseal).

Slot1gamer -

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