Battery life in modern smart phones is lagging behind all the cool stuff it can do, and this has brought upon us the horrors of a dead phone at a time of great need. When such times come, some people choose to have a iPhone battery case on hand to give a power boost. Most of these cases have the battery built into the back of the case, and a good selection of these have already been reviewed. Aussie company Padacs has their own addition to the market, the PowerCase. Does this case stack up with the other choices in the category, or is it just one to blend into the pack? Find out after the jump!
Before we start, it's worth a mention that this case comes in a 1600mAh and 2200mAh model, but we'll be reviewing a 1600mAh model.
The premise is the same as others. Spare battery in the back, slide on case design. I have no complaints with this design of the case, as it's simple but effective. The shell is a glossy black, and although it does attract some scratches, it's nothing too dramatic. The main, bottom piece contains everything; the battery, the dock pin, the single button on the unit and the micro USB connector. The top is simply a slide on piece of plastic that completes the case to give the appearance of one smooth case. This top piece does feel a bit flimsy, but it definitely clicks snugly into the bottom piece. The iPhone gets slid into the bottom piece from the top, and the dock pin in the case connects to the base of your iPhone. It's a good snug fit, it'll hold your baby tight.
The case obviously adds thickness, but it's comparable to a standard iPhone 3GS play through case. If you're looking at getting a battery case, chances are you've already accepted it's going to thicken your sexy phone. The case hides the thickness as best as it can though, as the back and bottom side are contoured to fit very nicely in your hand. The unit is also fairly light, so it wont turn your phone into an anchor in your pocket. Although it feels snug and protective, a glaring omission is a lip around the screen. It's not hard to see that it was omitted because it would add even more thickness to the case, but to some, including me, I'd liked to have had something between a hard surface and the screen of my expensive toy.
Onto the important part: the charging. I love the simplistic design of having one button, it really cuts any confusion. Click it, and it lights up none to four blue LEDs, showing how much juice you've got (each light is 25%). Hold down the button for two seconds though, and it gets to work charging your iPhone. Hold it again, and it switches off to conserve the battery once again. You charge the case itself through the micro USB port at the bottom, and there's no need to remove the case to charge the iPhone because it does this through the micro USB port too. The included micro USB to USB cable can be used to charge from an AC, or even sync your iPhone straight through the case! Not having to take the case on and off will be a great addition to most.
So how long does the battery last? The case charges in roughly 4 hours. Charging the iPhone wasn't anything spectacular, I'd say normal charging speeds. Can it charge a dead iPhone to full power? Short answer, yes. As long as you don't use the iPhone while charging, yes. If you just can't keep your hands off of the iPhone while charging, the battery won't stretch that far. For it's size and price, definitely not bad. Ah yes, price. Similar cases can go for $100, but this one is only half of that, at $49.95AUD. There is one issue with the case though. Like many cases, the thick section that the camera whole is cut out of causes the flash to reflect off of it, leaving undesirable marks in photos using flash. If you're a frequent user of the camera and flash, you might have to think twice about this case. Other than this, all ports are easily accessible and all buttons are easily press-able.
In my eyes, this is an excellent offering from Padacs. It ticks most of the right boxes for a battery case, despite a few flaws. It serves it's purpose well in a way that least detracts the simplicity and thinness of the iPhone 4, and at a price that's nearly half of some competing models, it's hard not to favour the PowerCase. Keep in mind that the 2200mAh version will provide even more juice, but it is also slightly thicker. Both models come in a single gloss black colour. Product link below!