Review: Swapping MagSafe for SnapFit, BatteryBox adds 60Wh of portable power to MacBook Airs, Pros

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Thanks to Apple’s patent on the MagSafe connectors used in MacBook Airs and Pros, the list of third-party external batteries for MacBooks previously began with Hyper’s HyperJuice/HyperJuice 2 and ended with Lenmar’s ChugPlug — not much of a variety. Apple’s legal department chased Hyper for attaching harvested MagSafe connectors to its batteries, and Lenmar chose a workaround, sending ChugPlug’s power indirectly though an Apple wall adapter. Neither solution was ideal. It took until now for a completely different third solution to appear: BatteryBox ($220) from Gbatteries Energy.

BatteryBox is the first MacBook power option I’ve tested that doesn’t require either MagSafe or an Apple wall adapter to function. Since the developers went out of their way to create something that won’t run afoul of Apple’s legal team, there’s absolutely nothing Mac-like about its brick-like rectangular design. And it’s not cheap, priced between the two HyperJuices and higher than ChugPlug, which can now be had for only $100. But it works, adding a 60-watt-hour additional battery to the 38-95-watt-hour cells already inside MacBook Airs and Pros. So if you’re on the road without access to a power outlet and need to add hours of additional runtime to your Apple laptop, this is a viable alternative….

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How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Part 2

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As I noted in Part 1 of How-To: Decode Apple’s Tech Specs pages before buying a new Mac, Apple has designed the Mac purchasing process to be easy: pick a model, pick the good, better, or best configuration, hand over your cash, and enjoy your computer. Since most people get confused by tech specs — bullet points filled with numbers and acronyms — Apple downplays them in its marketing materials, leaving customers to sort through the details and figure out what most of them mean.

But these specs are really important when you’re shopping for the right Mac for your current and future needs. So I’ve created this How-To guide to walk you through each of Apple’s Tech Specs pages using clear explanations, hopefully enabling you to properly understand what you’re about to buy. Part 1 focused on the “big 5″ Mac specs you really need to know about, and this Part 2 looks at the rest — generally things that remain the same in a given model, regardless of the configuration you choose…

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Apple releases Apple Watch battery results: 42mm model runs longer, 3h phone, 6.5h music, 7h workout

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In addition to making a general claim that the Apple Watch will run for up to 18 hours per charge, Apple has quietly added a new battery test results page to its web site discussing the Apple Watch’s performance across a variety of different tests. According to Apple, the 38mm and 42mm versions of the Watch will have different run times, and the 42mm Apple Watch “typically experiences longer battery life.” The company does not note how much longer the larger Watch will last for, but does disclose the 38mm model’s times for everything from phone calling to music and workouts…  Read more

NYT: Apple Watch includes ‘Power Reserve’ mode, shows only the time but conserves battery life

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The New York Times has published a piece about the culmination of the Watch project, as Apple transitions from product development stages to production and marketing to consumers. The piece reiterates that Apple was working on a vast array of health tracking sensors that were later dropped, which 9to5Mac covered extensively at the time.

However, the post includes one new piece of information about a previously-unannounced mode called ‘Power Reserve’. According to the report, users will be to enable a special low-power state that conserves battery life. In this mode, users will be able to see the time but cannot interact with the ‘smarter’ watch features like other apps. It is likely that other power-sapping features, like the constant connection to an iPhone for notifications, will also be disabled in this mode…

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Opinion: Should Apple improve iPhone battery life, or just battery cases?

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As this photo of the original Mophie Juice Pack and Tylt’s Energi for iPhone 6 shows, iPhone battery cases haven’t changed much over the years. They’ve existed for almost as long as iPhones, and remained ubiquitous due to Apple’s continued focus on thinness over longevity. That hasn’t been great for consumers: as 9to5’s Seth Weintraub put it, people are more impacted by their phones’ battery life than an extra 2mm of thinness.

It took until 2014 for Apple to offer one iPhone model — the iPhone 6 Plus — with all-day battery life, though you have to be willing to accept a much larger footprint to get that. By comparison, the smaller and reportedly more popular iPhone 6 improved only around 7% upon the iPhone 5s in run time, so the typical iPhone user isn’t seeing much of an improvement over prior models.

With a variety of alternatives at Apple’s disposal, including some major chip improvements that are just around the corner, we wanted to pose two questions to our readership. Should Apple take a break from slimming down iPhones to focus on improving battery life? Or should it instead focus its efforts on making battery cases better? Read on for our thoughts, and share yours in the comments section below…

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Apple reportedly poached employees from A123 Systems to work on battery tech, now faces unfair competition lawsuit

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Apple has poached five key engineers from A123 Systems to work in a new battery division at the Cupertino technology company, with some hires possibly going as far back as June, a new report claims. The battery maker claims that these hires violated agreements it had in place to prevent them from joining competing companies.

The employees the report refers to are Don Dafoe, Michael Erickson, Indrajeet Thorat, Mujeeb Ijaz, and Depeng Wang. Three of these workers—Erickson, Thorat, and Wang—were PhD project heads working on new battery technology. Ijaz headed up the System Venture Technologies Division, which oversaw work by all four of the others.

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Review: Tylt’s Energi Sliding Power Case doubles iPhone 6 run time, plus 20%

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Last week, we reviewed the first iPhone 6 Plus battery pack we’ve tested, MOTA’s unauthorized but value-laden Battery Case for iPhone 6 Plus. Now a maker of stylish charging accessories called Tylt has debuted what it says is the first Apple-authorized battery case for the iPhone 6, the Energi Sliding Power Case ($100). Officially shipping in mid-January, Energi continues the sled-style battery case design we first saw years ago in Mophie’s original Juice Pack (below), though with two critical differences: for the same price, it includes a 3200mAh rechargeable cell, and a detachable case that can be used alone when you don’t need spare power.

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While it’s not the perfect battery case for iPhone 6 due to some small issues, Energi comes very close. Read on for all the details.

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iPhone 6 and 6 Plus support faster charging, but ship with slower power adapter

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Update: We’ve rounded up some nice 2.1A AC/Car charger and battery upgrade options for the iPhone 6/Plus

Apple has apparently enabled much faster battery charging in the newest iPhone models, but you’d never know it if you only use the included power adapter. According to a change in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus discovered by iLounge, both of the new smartphones are equipped with the hardware to support 2.1A charging.

The problem? Apple only includes a 1A charger in the box. If you’ve been using that AC power adapter to recharge your phone, there’s a much faster way to do it. Since the iPad has long supported 2.1A charging, you can grab a charger for the Apple tablet and use that to achieve a much quicker charge.

Another way to benefit from this new capability is to plug your iPhone directly into a newer-model Mac, which will charge it at the appropriate speed. iLounge noted that the Macs tested for this feature were running Yosemite with no mention of OS X Mavericks, so it’s possible that the change may require the upcoming OS, which is currently is public beta. Read more

Apple finds some iPhone 5 units have battery problems, opens replacement program

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This Friday afternoon, Apple has opened up an iPhone 5 battery replacement program after discovering that a “very small percentage” of units “may suddenly experience shorter battery life or need to be charged more frequently.” The iPhone 5 was originally launched in September 2012, and Apple says that the affected units were sold between that month and January 2013. Apple’s support website includes a tool to check if your serial number belongs to a faulty iPhone 5…

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Now even more shots of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6’s 1810mAh battery have leaked

Yesterday, we reported on purported photos of the larger, 5.5-inch iPhone 6’s 2915mAh battery pack among other parts, and today, new clear shots of the 4.7-inch models have leaked. Photos of the smaller next-generation iPhone’s 1810mAh battery first hit the web in July, and these new photos add weight to the previous photos being legitimate. For comparison, the iPhone 5s’s battery is 1560mAh, but because of the higher-res screen on the iPhone 6, it’s possible that the bigger battery pack could be offset but the additional pixel pushing. Besides a bigger battery, the new iPhones will likely include sharper displays, faster A8 processors, new sensors, and improved cameras. The new devices will debut at an event on September 9th and begin shipping around a week-and-a-half later. Another shot of the 4.7-inch model’s battery is below:

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