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Apple's 'Smart Battery Case' gets bumped around by reviewers

Apple has a plan to address short battery life, to the relief of iPhone addicts everywhere. But the company's new case, with a bumpy design and a hefty price tag to match, has received mixed reviews.

Taking aim at the much-bemoaned batteries of slimmer smartphones, the Smart Battery Case for iPhone 6 and 6S aims to extend battery life to between 18 and 25 hours, according to the product description on Apple's website.

Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case in Charcoal Gray
Source: Apple
Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case in Charcoal Gray

The case comes with some new and competitive features. Because it is designed by Apple, the $99 accessory also supports iPhone's signature Lightning connection cables and displays battery status on the iPhone lock screen. The flexible silicone case comes in two colors, white and charcoal gray, and is lined with microfiber.

But the case has also drawn its share of criticism. The bump on the back of the case seems a departure from Apple's trademark clean, attractive design, a reviewer at technology blog Engadget wrote. In addition to the "my-iPhone-ate-my-iPod bump," not all headphones are compatible with the case, wrote another blogger at The Verge.

And as The Wall Street Journal points out, similar third-party cases tend to have higher battery capacity at lower cost, with ancillary options like turning the case on and off. Writers at industry blogs like 9to5 Mac and CNET pointed out that if Apple just settled for a thicker phone with a bigger battery — like the 6S Plus — maybe users wouldn't feel deprived of juice in the first place.

Of course, there's also been chatter of fancier batteries in Apple's future, with prior reports of innovations like rechargeable hydrogen fuel cells for phones. For good reason: A third of adults see "improved battery life" as the smartphone feature they are most excited about, the leading answer in a Fortune magazine survey of 1,000 people taken online in January.

On top of that, Apple may release a new version of the flagship iPhone at an event in March, reports said Tuesday. Until then, the Smart Battery Case is still more than slim enough to slip under the tree, of course.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.