Today we take a look at a recent offering from the folks at Ontrion – This time it's a battery case called LifeCHARGE and this one works with the iPhone 5s. I've had the battery case for a couple weeks because I wanted to charge and discharge a couple times and I wanted to make sure that it held a charge after sitting for a few days. The good news is everything worked out really well.
The LifeCHARGE came in simple packaging and the instructions are very (obviously) easy to understand. It installed on my phone very with no issues but, of course, I had to remove my existing iPhone case. The phone fit in easily and with a 2 piece sliding design, the parts snapped together quickly. The battery case adds some weight (about 3 oz) and height to the phone as expected, but it feels sturdy and still fit in my pocket with no problems. On the back, the blue 4 bar meter makes it simple to tell how much of a charge you have at any point.
To start the charge you hold down the one button. You can also stop charging (say, when you reach an acceptable %) by doing the same and saving some battery for later. I did notice that if I stopped the charge that the batter still seemed to drain, so I will have to keep an eye on that going forward.
The device uses a mini-USB for both charging and syncing your phone. In other words, if you have this battery case on your phone you can still plug it in to your computer, charge the battery pack and sync the phone. This is pretty normal for a case like this but still a handy feature. The case also has appropriately placed spaces for your camera lens and flash and all the various buttons. As for the power/lock button, I found it a little difficult to reach due to the height of the beveled edge. At the lower end of the case, the plastic housing extends beyond the end of the phone and basically reroutes the sound coming from the built in speakers. Since I don't use the built in speakers much, I didn't really notice much in the way of sound quality changes but frankly I don't expect a lot from the iPhone anyway. Also, the headphone jack is a bit buried and unless you have the right shaped cord/jack you may not be able to plug in your headphones.
In terms of the weight added to the phone, from my measurements it's about 85 grams (~3 oz) and with the iPhone 5S being about 115g (~4.1 oz), you're adding 74% more weight to your phone. I think it's a worthwhile trade-off but how much weight you want in your pocket or purse is really up to you.
Probably the biggest selling point for this battery pack is the amount of mAh – this one comes with 2300mAh (based on the documentation). The iPhone 5S has a 1560 mAh battery (source), so arguably you could get at least a full charge and about 30% more if the transfer was 100% perfect. The good news is that a full charge and about 30% more is pretty much what I've observed in my usage over the last few weeks.
When comparing this device' price against competitors, I took a look at Mophie (here) at $119.95 (2100 mAh) and Belkin (here) at $114.95 / 2000 mAh. The LifeCHARGE Battery Case for iPhone 5 / 5s comes in at $79.99 which is a nice savings in comparison and it has more power. I have seen deeper discounts on battery cases from companies I've never heard of but would not personally recommend them due to never having worked with them.
So, on the positive side –
- Very easy to install
- Does not peel up any screen covers
- Feels sturdy (no rattling or loose parts)
- Holds a charge when not in use for at least a week (through my own experimentation)
- Charged my 5S 1+ times
- Charges iPhone quickly
- Price compares well against major competitors
On the negative side
- Slightly heavy
- Earphone jack could difficult to access
All in all this seems to be a great product that's easy to use and comes at a very good price. If you want to check it out for yourself please visit Ontrion's site.