Tim Cook's Take On The Smart Battery Case 


“As you probably know from being a user of this now,” said Cook as he grabbed my iPhone 6, which was sporting the new case, “one of the real insights here is, have you ever used other cases and tried to get them on?”

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.”

I love interviews with Cook that don’t focus on tax, equality or human rights. All those things are honourable aims, but listening to Cook’s take on the products he ultimately oversees is the most interesting stuff for me. Cook clearly doesn’t lead product development, although he is generally credited with the ‘invention’ of the iPad mini, but he always talks a lot of sense when talking about them. He highlights the real practicality of Apple’s case, conveniently ignoring the debate over the aesthetics.

What I wished Ulanoff had asked, though, is ‘did Jony Ive sign off on this?’. The Smart Battery Case is true to itself, there’s nothing unnecessary or indulgent in the design, which is a trademark Ive design point. On the other hand, another Ive design element is that the end result also looks good and I don’t believe the hump is appealing. It’s hard to say whether Jony would approve or not; he has created some wacky designs in his career.

My personal view is that Apple should have made the case uniformly thick, so the case is as thick as the battery at every point. That doesn’t mean they have to fill it with battery. I think it would be fine if those sections were effectively hollow, allowing the case to bend and remain flexible. This means the user could still flex the case for easy insertion and removal of the phone. Crucially, it would also be far prettier than the hump.