One of the downfalls of the iPhone 5 is its battery, it's an improvement on previous generations but doesn't have the stamina to keep going for those of us giving the iPhone heavy usage here at our studio throughout a day. The solution for this when on the go is to either use a battery pack or a case with an equipped battery.
This is the BoostCase Hybrid Battery Case for iPhone 5, and it tries very hard not to tread on the toes of the iPhone 5's organic thin and light design. It does this by having a removable battery sleeve pack, which leaves what's called the Snap Case to cover and protect the iPhone 5. The BoostCase Snap Case is also sold separately without the Hybrid Battery and is a pretty standard square rubber shell case which will serve a layer of protection to scratches and day to day usage to the rear and landscape sides of the iPhone. The volume rockers, mute switch, top and bottom of the iPhone are cut out to access through the case. So if we need to dock the iPhone and use accessories, it's a simple affair.
The Battery Sleeve and Snap Case are available in eight monochromatic colours: mustard yellow, white, black, wine red, mint green, coral pink, purple, blue and a slew of two toned variants are possible if each part is purchased separately. The variety and customisability is admired by us. Although we have the all black addition it doesn’t look too dull with a white iPhone 5; but we’re normally swayed to grab the more colourful choices and there's a stack here!
The unique ability the Snap Case has is to equip accessories onto its rear which is enabled via its patterned circles and four slots engraved into the area. Things like wallets, card holders and, of course, the Hybrid Battery can be purchased from BoostCase and fastened onto the Snap Case. This design is very original and we can see room for a great deal more accessories to come.
Protection is always a tad questionable when you have a battery strapped to your phone. The BoostCase Hybrid Battery Case, when attached, will definitely offer a thick wall of protection to the rear of the phone if you were to drop it from a good three to four metres. The one thing we did spot from our good few months of solid usage is that the exterior soft rubbery material on the Hybrid Battery begins to wear away, this hasn't happened at all with the Snap Case but when we hold both parts up to the light it's clear they have different exterior finishes.
Attaching the Battery Sleeve onto the Snap Case is a breeze, simply align four rounded circles located on the Battery Sleeve with the four slots on the Snap Case and push the phone down onto the lightning connector and it's then snapped into place. Bulk is added with thickness and weight, but not by a huge degree. It’s not uncomfortable to use, due its contoured curves and soft silicone exterior. All the functions of the iPhone are accessible, with the exception of the bottom of the phone. This area has a cutout for the auxiliary input, which we found to be a tad too small with some jacks we wanted to use; the speaker and microphone are cutout via grills which don't hinder the quality. The only function we can't access, because the case uses it to charge the phone, is the Lightning Connector.
The routine we found ourselves getting into with the BoostCase was one where we left the Battery Sleeve within a bag, pocket, on a desk, etc and used the iPhone 5 solely within the Snap Case when we had plenty of internal battery reserves. Then when the phone began to come close to drained we’d attach the Battery Sleeve and let it charge, which was a daily occurrence. In a way we were using the Battery Sleeve in a battery pack manner of sorts, but we couldn’t comfortably commute and use a battery pack like we could with the BoostCase Hyrbid. The charge rate is greater than that of the power consumed by the phone when using it, even when going heavy on 3G downloads and such.
The battery sleeve comes in two variants: Single Shot which holds 1500 mAH and Double Shot (or more like one and half shot) whichpacks 2200 mAH. We have the Single Shot which happens to be mildly slimmer and less expensive than the Double Shot. In theory the Single Shot 1500 mAH battery should be capable of charging the iPhone 5’s internal 1,440 mAh battery entirely but from our tests this is not the case. It charges a drained battery to around the 70% mark; we're not entirely sure why this is but 70% extra battery from this slim package isn't shabby anyway. On the back of the Battery Sleeve is a triangular button which glows orange when charging and green when fully charged. When the phone is first attached to the Battery Sleeve it will begin charging automatically, to stop and resume this you simply have to press and hold the button for a few seconds. It's pretty straightforward to use but we'd have liked to see a detailed battery indicator, instead of just a solid green for full and an amber for medium and below.
The iPhone 5 and BoostCase Hybrid both charge simultaneously over the micro USB input built into the bottom of the case. The cable supplied has this input and a USB 2.0 input so you can plug the cable into a standard Apple AC wall plug. We spotted two snags with this, the first being that it's very tricky to actually put the cable into the case at night in the dark because it's small and only inserts one way, unlike the Apple Lightning Connector. The second snag is that the iPhone won't sync over the micro USB input, although this isn't too bad as the Sleeve is so easy to detach for access to the Lightning Connector.
The price of the BoostCase Hybrid 1500 mAH within the UK is £59.99 and $79.95 within the USA. The 2200 mAH version is $99.99 within the USA but appears not to be available within the UK. This means the BoostCase Hybrid Battery Case is actually £5 cheaper than the identically specced Mophie Juice Pack Helium within the UK but is identically priced in the USA. And the Juice Pack Helium doesn't have a removable battery.
The BoostCase Hybrid Battery Case conjoins fashionability with useful and reliable functionality. The patent pending Snap Case could blossom into a well established ecosystem if enough different accessories are released to capture consumers' imaginations.