If you’re having trouble updating your iPhone using the iTunes desktop client, the cause of the problems may be something fairly unexpected.
Here’s what you should know.
- Can Apple’s Smart Battery Case damage your iPhone battery?
- How & Why You Should Update Your iPhone or iPad Using iTunes
- How to fix iPhone / iPad backup, update & restore errors in iTunes
Update problems with Smart Battery Cases
The symptom of this problem is simple. Basically, your iPhone will simply fail to update when you attempt to do so through iTunes.
Generally, the update will attempt to go through but users will be hit by one of several error messages.
Occasionally, iTunes will claim that the iPhone will need to be restored. In other cases, it’ll say that “the iPhone could not be restored. An unknown error occurred.” The iPhone itself may also permanently display the Connect to iTunes menu.
As you may imagine, this can be incredibly frustrating, especially when you don’t suspect the Smart Battery Case.
Anecdotal user reports indicate that users often try a slew of different troubleshooting steps before accidentally stumbling upon the true culprit. That includes trying different cables and computers, and even restoring an iPhone to factory settings.
What causes it?
It isn’t clear what the exact problem is. Because the issue only affects iPhones when a Smart Battery Case is on, the case itself is obviously the root cause.
Presumably, there is some type of problem with the data connectors or pins on the Smart Battery Case itself. When you plug a device into a Smart Battery Case, it’s not actually plugging into your iPhone. Instead, it’s connecting to an adapter port on the actual case. Missing or buggy pins could prevent data transfer, while allowing for other routine tasks like backing up and charging.
There’s also the possibility that it’s intended behavior. More specifically, it could be a security measure that prevents data transfer in order to protect against hacking tools.
Of course, if this were the case, Apple would undoubtedly advise users to remove the Smart Battery Case before attempting an update.
How widespread is it?
As far as we can tell, the problem doesn’t appear all that widespread. But that’s likely because it is only impacting the small subset of users with an iPhone Smart Battery Case who update via iTunes.
User reports suggest that it’s only the newest Smart Battery Cases released for the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR that are affected.
While this is purely speculation, there could be a widespread issue with the latest Smart Battery Cases that prevents updating.
How to fix it
Thankfully, the fix for this issue is pretty simple. Just remove your Smart Battery Case, plug your iPhone into iTunes and proceed with the update as you normally would. Once it’s finished, put your Smart Battery Case back on.
Seriously, don’t proceed with any other troubleshooting techniques — you’ll only waste hours and be frustrated. If you have a Smart Battery Case on your iPhone, just take it off.
It’s also worth noting that the problem is likely with the Smart Battery Case lineup itself and not with your specific Smart Battery Case. We don’t recommend going out and buying a new one. You may just have the same thing happen. (Unless you can get your case replaced for free, of course.)
On the other hand, if the iTunes update fails and you don’t have a Smart Battery Case on your device, then there may be another reason behind the bug. In these cases, we recommend reinstalling iTunes. If all else fails, contact Apple Support.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.