What happened to Apple’s faultless design?

Unlike any other consumer electronics company, Apple has been nailing product design for decades. Jony Ive and his incredibly talented team have produced countless iconic gadgets that rivals can only dream of, and it’s the biggest reason why the company is so successful today. But there are suggestions that Apple’s design prowess is beginning to slip […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Smart Battery Case Teardown Reveals Battery is Difficult to Replace

iFixit has completed a Smart Battery Case teardown, providing a closer look at the case’s brushed aluminum inner shell, rechargeable lithium-ion battery and tiny logic board housing two Lightning connectors.

The inner aluminum plate serves as a door for the battery compartment, which houses a 1,877 mAh battery (7.13 Whr) that more than doubles the iPhone 6s battery capacity of 1,715 mAh. iFixit says the battery is „very strongly adhered in place“ with a connector rather than soldering.

Much of what makes Apple’s Smart Battery Case „smart“ is powered by the iPhone, as the case only has a few other components, including a NXP NX20P3 load switch, also found in Lightning to USB cables, and a NXP 1608A1 charging chip.

iFixit awarded the Smart Battery Case a repairability score of 2 out of 10, with ten being the easiest to repair. While the battery pack can technically be replaced, the case has a strong adhesive lining, and all other repairs would destroy the accessory.

Tags: iFixit, teardown, iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case
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Rivals pile on to mock Apple’s ugly iPhone battery case

Apple made a minor design faux pas with its newly-launched iPhone Smart Battery Case, so of course all of the company’s rivals are doing the mature thing and getting on with their own work, knowing that joining the pile-on will only come back to bite them. Wait — that’s not what’s happening at all! In […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Tim Cook is big fan of iPhone battery case’s lovely little hump

Tim Cook saw all the complaints fanboys levied against the ugly new Smart Battery Case his company unveiled this week, but the Apple CEO is defending the controversial new product, claiming Apple’s designers ;used ‘great insight’ to solve a crutial flaw facing most battery cases. “The guys had this great insight to put the bend […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Tim Cook on New iPhone 6s Battery Case: ‘I Wouldn’t Call it the Hump’

Apple CEO Tim Cook attended one of Apple’s Hour of Code events in New York this afternoon, where he spoke to Mashable‘s Lance Ulanoff about the new iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case, which debuted yesterday.

Ulanoff asked Cook if he was excited about the „hump,“ a mocking nickname people have given to the battery case due to its distinctive shape. In response, Tim Cook said he was aware of the comments people were making about the case. „You know, I probably wouldn’t call it ‘the hump,'“ Cook said.

Cook went on to point out the malleability of the new Smart Battery Case in comparison to other battery cases. It’s made of a soft silicone that makes it easy to put on and remove, unlike more rigid cases from third-party companies.

Cook was pointing out the issue with cases, like those from Mophie, that are so rigid it takes considerable strength and patience to put them on and take them off.

„If you make this solid all the way across,“ said Cook, indicating the spots where the Apple case’s embedded battery stops and you just have the soft fluoroelastomer casing, „in order to get it on, you’d find it very difficult to get it on and off.“

„So the guys had this great insight to put the bend in along with making it a smart case,“ Cook explained.

Cook also commented on the viewpoint that the case is an admission the iPhone 6s battery is too small, saying most people who charge their iPhones every day won’t need the case. „But if you’re out hiking and you go on overnight trips… it’s kind of nice to have,“ he said.

Apple introduced its iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case yesterday morning, and its distinctive humped design quickly led to derision and negative comments from iPhone users. Reviews of the Smart Battery Case were also not overly positive as the case doesn’t have enough capacity to fully recharge an iPhone and it’s missing some features that are found in third-party battery cases.

Apple’s Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 6s is priced at $99 and is available from the online Apple Store and Apple retail locations.

Tags: Tim Cook, iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case
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Review: MiPow’s Power Tube 3000 Battery Pack is Compact and Cute, but App Needs Improvement

There are hundreds of external battery packs available for the iPhone, but only a small subset of those are given the Apple seal of approval and offered in Apple retail stores and the Apple online store. MiPow’s 3,000 mAh Smart Power Tube is one of the newest portable batteries Apple offers, with a lot of perks like built-in charging cables and an accompanying app.

Design and Features

MiPow’s Smart Power Tube is, as the name suggests, tube shaped. While it’s small enough to fit comfortably in a bag or a purse at just over four inches long and an inch thick, it’s an odd shape for a pocket and it isn’t as convenient to use while charging an iPhone like the flatter Mophie-style battery packs. It comes with a little matching carrying pouch so it can be dropped in a bag without worrying about scratches and scuffs.

The Smart Power Tube is available in black, white, gray, and a handful of bright candy colors: turquoise, green, and pink. A smooth, soft-touch material covers the outside of the Smart Power Tube and a metal band separates the body from the cap of the device. On the metal band there are three LEDs that display the power level and a button that activates the Tube when it’s plugged into an iPhone.

Underneath the cap, there’s a USB connector for charging the internal battery and a cleverly placed Lightning cable that connects the Power Tube to an iPhone and also holds the cap of the device in place. On the whole, the Smart Power Tube feels like a premium product with coordinated colors, clean lines, and quality materials.

While I like that the Smart Power Tube has built-in cables, the USB connector that’s included is limiting. I normally charge my external battery packs using a dedicated micro-USB cable on my desk, but with the MiPow Smart Power Tube, I need to plug it directly into my computer to charge or stick it in a USB power adapter. This may not matter to most users who will appreciate being able to plug the Power Tube right into a computer to charge.

Given the size of the Smart Power Tube and the short Lightning cable, it was awkward using my iPhone while it was charging with the battery pack. With the Mophie battery pack I regularly use, it can be positioned out of the way behind the phone, but that was difficult with the Smart Power Tube because of the cap connected to the cable.

With the cap in place, the Lightning cable built into the Smart Power Tube serves as a little handle for carrying it, which is a nice touch. It’s the perfect size to fit around a finger. Speaking of the cap, I should mention that it needs to be removed in a specific way. According to MiPow, it should be removed using an upward swipe with a thumb rather than pulled with the hand to prevent damage to the Lightning cable.

A thumb swipe where the Lightning cable is located pops the cap right off, whereas pulling from the top takes a lot more force, so I can see how the Lightning cable could accidentally be damaged from being opened the wrong way. I am concerned about the long term viability of the Power Tube given the potential for damage to the cable, but I gave it a good stress test (I yanked on it really hard several times) and the cable remained securely in place.

I tested the Power Tube with my iPhone 6s Plus. I drained the battery completely to the point where the iPhone turned off, and then plugged in a fully charged Smart Tube. I plugged my iPhone in at 6:30 p.m., and by 10:00 p.m., I had exhausted the Smart Tube’s battery. For an iPhone 6s Plus with a 2,750 mAh battery, the Smart Tube charged it to 77 percent. Repeated charging sessions offered similar results.

The Smart Power Tube is not going to charge an iPhone 6s Plus to full, but it is going to provide enough power for a full charge for the smaller capacity iPhone 6s, which has a 1,715 mAh battery. It’ll also provide enough power for earlier iPhones like the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s.

As for charging, I plugged it into my Retina MacBook Pro in at 9:30 a.m. and it reached a full charge at approximately 12:30 p.m., which is in line with the estimated four hour charging time that MiPow lists for the device. It does not offer passthrough charging, so it’s not possible to charge the MiPow and the iPhone at the same time through its Lightning cable.

App

The Smart Power Tube is able to connect to an iPhone via Bluetooth to allow iPhone users to monitor its power level via an accompanying MiPow JuiceSync2 app. While this seems like a cool idea on the surface, it felt like a gimmick to me.

The app displays the power levels of the iPhone and the Power Tube, along with details on how much standby, talk time, and Internet usage that power equates to. The design of the app is outdated and it can be difficult to interpret the information at a glance. iPhone battery level is at left, and Power Tube battery is at the right. At the top, there’s a number that is the combined battery level between the two.

MiPow’s app will send alerts when the Power Tube battery is low, when the iPhone gets too far away from the Power Tube, and when the Power Tube temperature gets too high. None of these features were useful to me during my time testing the device, nor was a dedicated feature that’s meant to allow users to find a lost Power Tube.

„Find Me“ turns on the LED lights of the device, but since there’s no sound, if it’s hidden away in a drawer or in a bright room, there’s no way to see the light. It has a radar that seems like it’s meant to determine distance, but it didn’t work for me, fluctuating between full bars and two bars even when right next to the Power Tube.

There were a few other app functions I wasn’t able to get working or that didn’t work well. A tracking feature is supposed to record the point at which an iPhone and the Power Tube lose connection, but I couldn’t get it to record my location, despite having location services and all alerts turned on. A „Ring Me“ feature is supposed to cause the iPhone to ring, but it didn’t. Interestingly enough, the button on the Power Tube did control the volume on my iPhone when connected via Bluetooth, allowing it to be used as a remote to snap photos.

Getting an alert when the iPhone is moved out of range from the Power Tube is the only semi-useful feature because it can remind users not to forget the Power Tube (or the iPhone, if the Power Tube is in a bag and the phone itself is left behind), but that feature alone didn’t seem worth the battery drain I experienced from the iPhone’s Bluetooth connection to the Smart Tube. It also didn’t seem to trigger reliably in my testing, waiting until I was far out of Bluetooth range before sending a notification.

For reference, the battery monitoring app that accompanies the Power Tube was responsible for approximately 12 percent of the overall battery drain of my phone over the last several days, and on par with background usage of social media apps like Twitter. I used the app with its full capabilities enabled for testing purposes, but disabling its ability to use location services may cut back on that battery usage.

The Smart Power Tube can be used entirely without the app, which would be my preferred use case. The three LEDs on the side display enough information about its battery level, and since it always takes the same time to charge and discharge its battery into an iPhone, there’s little need to get details on its power level in the app. I didn’t feel like connection features were worth the loss of battery life, but people who want a closer look at battery life or reminders not to forget their Power Tube might have a different opinion on the app.

Bottom Line

Since this is a 3,000 mAh battery, it’s best for iPhone 6s users and those with earlier iPhone models. It’s not going to charge an iPhone 6s Plus to full, and it doesn’t offer enough capacity to be suitable for an iPad. For an iPhone 6s Plus or iPad user, I’d recommend a significantly more powerful external battery pack.

At $49.95, the Smart Power Tube is priced on the higher side, but it comes in a cute, compact package and it has a built-in Lightning cable and USB connector for charging. It’s something a lot of people might pick up on a whim when visiting the Apple Store.

The included features aren’t going to be worth the extra money for most users when simple battery packs can be purchased for half the cost on Amazon, but some may appreciate the convenience, the design, and the accompanying app that gives a clear picture of the charge level.

Buyers should be aware of potential downsides to the Power Tube, including its odd shape that prevents the iPhone from being used comfortably while charging, the need to be careful with the Lightning cable, and the battery drain the Bluetooth connection and app cause.

Pros:

Cute design with fun colors

Portable

Integrated Lightning cable

Integrated USB connector

Button on Power Tube serves as iPhone camera shutter (via Bluetooth)

Cons:

3,000mAh battery is only suitable for smaller devices

Shape is somewhat awkward

Integrated USB connector limits recharging methods

App isn’t very useful

App drains battery

How to Buy

The MiPow Smart Power Tube can be purchased from the online Apple Store for $49.95.

Note: MacRumors received no compensation for this review.
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Pro Tip: Check your Apple Watch battery from your iPhone

You can of course check the status of your Apple Watch battery on your wrist, but it’s even easier to discover how much Apple Watch juice you have left right from your iPhone. In fact, you can check the battery status of anything connected via Bluetooth, including headphones and speakers. Here’s how. Swipe down from […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Enter for a chance to globetrot with travel guru Tim Ferriss and a bagful of top tech goodies [Deals]

There’s traveling and then there’s traveling smart, and few are smarter about travel than Tim Ferriss. Star of The Tim Ferriss Experiment is and author of #1 New York Times bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek, he’s made a living out of helping people travel better and more effectively. The Round-the-World Giveaway gives you a chance to […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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Facebook’s sneaky app is draining your iPhone battery

iPhone users who have been suffering from worse battery life since upgrading to iOS 9 may want to try deleting Facebook’s iOS app. The social network confirmed reports that surfaced earlier this week claiming the iOS app uses a heavy amount of resources in the background to run processes. The big problem with the battery […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)


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