Apple today updated its online store with the addition of three new products: Smart Battery Cases for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR. Every version of the case costs $129, regardless of iPhone size. Each new case is available in both Black and White, and the designs resemble that of the previous Apple Smart Battery Cases, with a silicone exterior and a large bulge on the back to accommodate the battery.
The Smart Battery Case is compatible with Qi chargers, so you can still take advantage of wireless charging while using the case. These are the quoted charge estimates for each case:
- XS: 33 hours talk time, 21 hours Internet use, and 25 hours video playback
- XS Max: 37 hours talk time, 20 hours Internet use, and 25 hours video playback
- XR: 39 hours talk time, 22 hours Internet use, and 27 hours video playback
In the past, Apple hasn't made Smart Battery Cases available for Plus-sized phones, so it's great to see that now, regardless of your iPhone size, you can get a case that raises battery life to meet the needs of heavy use.
Earlier this week we rounded up all of the important Apple-related announcements from the first couple days of CES. Some of the highlights were major TV manufacturers adding AirPlay 2 and HomeKit support, the first HomeKit doorbell, and accessories to complement Apple's latest devices. If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out that first roundup.
As much ground as we covered in that initial piece, the convention has continued on these past few days with plenty more announcements worth noting. Here are more of the top accessories, HomeKit devices, and other interesting products announced at CES.
Apple may not be exhibiting at CES, but its presence is felt nonetheless. More than ever, Apple’s technologies like HomeKit and AirPlay are showing up in third-party hardware. What’s different this year is the first appearance of Apple video content on third-party devices in what is undoubtedly the first step in the company’s emerging video strategy, which breaks from the traditionally tight integration between Apple hardware and software.
As in past years, the MacStories team is sifting through the hundreds of press releases to find the announcements that are most relevant to our readers. CES has only just begun, and we’ve already seen a long list of product announcements that affect iOS and Mac users. Below are the highlights of those early announcements. We’ll follow up with another roundup later this week collecting additional products showcased at CES.
It’s worth noting that CES announcements rarely indicate the countries in which new products will be available, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for additional details if you see something that interests you.
iOS devices and Macs sit at the center of our computing lives, often accompanied by a host of accessories. And each year brings a few standout new accessories that extend what our favorite devices can do in meaningful ways – 2018 was no exception. From dongles and hubs to cameras and headphones, the MacStories team tried a wide range of gadgets this year that made an impact on our daily lives. Below is our favorite, along with our runners-up.
Best New Accessory
John: There are few aspects of my computing life more important than a reliable, fast connection to the Internet. There are several good options available when it comes to WiFi mesh networking systems, but it’s Netgear’s Orbi Outdoor WiFi Satellite that makes its system stand out and has added the kind of flexibility to my setup this year that wasn’t possible before.
Federico and I both use Netgear’s Orbi WiFi router and indoor satellite to blanket our homes in WiFi. I started with an Orbi router and one satellite. The router sits in my basement where our Comcast service enters the house, the satellite sits in the kitchen, and recently, I added an Orbi Wall-Plug on the second floor. That combination of Orbi devices alone has been enough to blanket the interior of my house in fast WiFi and handle around 40 connected devices when my entire family is home.
This past January at CES, Netgear announced it was adding to the Orbi lineup with the Orbi Outdoor Satellite, an extender for the Orbi router designed to withstand the elements. Admittedly, there’s probably no one more susceptible to the promise of outdoor WiFi than me sitting at home staring out at the snow while reading roundups of CES gear. Still, I waited until the device was released and reviewed before finally giving in early this past summer.
Jason Snell tested a pre-production unit of the Brydge keyboard for the 2018 iPad Pro (in the 12.9" flavor) and it sounds like this will be the iPad keyboard worth waiting for:
To attach the iPad to the Brydge 12.9 Pro, you slide it into two hinged clips covered with rubber padding. As with previous models, it takes a little practice to get the feel right. My main concern once the new iPad Pro was unveiled was if Brydge would be able to design a clip small enough to only cover the iPad’s much smaller bezels that also held the iPad securely. I’m happy to report that the answer is yes—there’s enough room and once the iPad is attached, the connection feels solid.
The clips are the same size front and back, meaning you can remove the iPad, flip it around, and insert it back into the clips to use the Brydge as a “movie mode” stand, or even fold it down and use it as a double-thick, double-weight tablet. (I don’t really see the appeal, but Brydge says that some customers requested it.)
In a nice touch, the Brydge 12.9 Pro comes with a slight indentation at the bottom of the wrist-rest space (below where a trackpad would be, if it had a trackpad). This creates a natural lifting point to open the “laptop”, which was sometimes tricky on the previous models.
Once I was able to get my hands on a functioning unit of the original Brydge keyboard, I fell in love with the idea of turning the iPad into a "convertible" computer that could work both as a laptop and a tablet. I later upgraded to the second-generation Brydge keyboard and used it until I upgraded to the latest iPad Pro in November. Products like the Brydge keyboard tie into the iPad's hybrid nature – the multiplicity of input systems and work contexts that make it, as Jason also notes, more flexible than a traditional laptop or desktop computer. I was concerned that the smaller bezels of the 2018 iPad Pro were going to be an issue for a redesigned Brydge keyboard, but it seems like the company has not only worked around the iPad's new design constraints, but even improved upon previous generations of the keyboard case. I'm going to pre-order one as soon as possible.
In October, shortly before Apple began taking preorders for the iPhone XR, an Apple press release surfaced in Canada that mentioned a clear case for the phone. However, when the XR went on sale, the clear case was nowhere to be found on Apple’s website or in its retail stores.
Today, the case of the missing clear case has been solved. As MacRumors first reported, the iPhone XR clear case went on sale today on Apple.com for $39. Apple describes the case as ‘thin, light and easy to grip.’ The company also says that the case includes a scratch-resistant coating inside and out and works with wireless Qi chargers. Although third-party cases have been available since the iPhone XR was released, this is the first XR case offered by Apple.
Also, 9to5Mac separately reports that Apple is selling an 18W USB-C charger for the latest iPad Pros which costs $29. Until today, the 18W charger was only available in the box with a new iPad Pro.
The new iPhone XS line and Apple Watch Series 4 are not available for pre-order until this Friday, and unlike in past years, when new device accessories became available immediately after Apple's keynote event, this time the new cases and watch bands will also not go on sale until later this week. But eager purchasers can get a head start on scoping out exactly which accessories they'll order by browsing Apple's website. iPhone XS and XS Max cases and new Apple Watch bands are available to view, but you can't order them until Friday.
One important note is that all Apple Watch bands are now designated 40mm or 44mm, to match the new Series 4 Watch, but they are all fully compatible with prior Apple Watch models which were sized 38mm and 42mm.
Here's the full list of accessories you'll be able to order starting this Friday.
The Logitech Crayon stylus that was announced at Apple’s spring education event was available originally to education customers only. Logitech has announced however, that beginning on September 12th the Crayon will be available to anyone who wants one.
The Crayon has many of the same features as Apple’s Pencil but lacks pressure sensitivity. The device is also designed with kids in mind. The rubberized cap that hides a Lightning charging port is tethered to the device, and the replaceable tips can only be removed with a special tool. The barrel of the Crayon is also squared off so it won’t roll off a table.
Logitech says the Crayon will be available initially at Apple retail stores, Apple.com, and Logitech.com. However, beginning in October, availability will expand to other retailers.
The Crayon will continue to be available to education customers for $49.99. Everyone else can purchase the Crayon for $69.99, which is $30 less than the Apple Pencil.
It’s interesting that the Crayon goes on sale to the general public the same day as Apple’s fall event. Perhaps this indicates that new iPads will debut during the event, despite the lack of iPad rumors and leaks compared to the iPhone and Apple Watch.
Logitech has announced that later this month, it will debut a wireless Qi charger called the Logitech Powered that the company designed in collaboration with Apple.
The charger delivers 7.5W of power, is vertically-oriented, and will work with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, which sit in the charger's U-shaped cradle. Logitech says that the iPhone doesn’t need to be precisely placed in the dock to charge. An iPhone will also charge even if set in landscape mode across the top of the cradle. Although Logitech’s press release says the Powered will be sold for $69.99, its website currently offers the charger for pre-order for $79.99.
I’ve been using a vertical Qi charger for about a month and love how well it works with Face ID, which makes it easy to check something quickly on my iPhone when I’m at my desk. Although it’s on the pricey end of the spectrum, the ability of the Powered to charge in portrait or landscape and its vertical orientation makes it a tempting addition to a desk, countertop, or nightstand.
The Logitech Powered will be available at Apple Stores and directly from Logitech, where it can be pre-ordered now.