If you ask any iPhone user what they hate most about their iPhone chances are theyíll mention the battery life. I donít know about you but itís a miracle if my iPhone is able to make it till the end of the day.
Anyways, the problem with the iPhone is that its battery is almost half the size of some of itís Android competitors. While itís true the iPhoneís screen is only about 33% smaller Iím able to easily make it through the day when I use a LG G2 or Sony Xperia Z1.
Hereís where Belkinís Grip Power Battery case (say that fast 3 times) comes in. Itís a case with a built-in 2000mAh battery to augment the iPhone 5sí 1540mAh. This should more than double the 5sí battery life and indeed, my seat of the pants feeling is that this is the case. When Iím using the Belkin case itís virtually impossible to run the 5s down in one day. In fact, many users should have no problem getting 2 days of usage.
The case is 2 pieces: the bottom has all the electronics while the top part protects the sides of your iPhone and keeps it from falling out.
The surface where your iPhone rests is soft and does a good job of keeping dust and debris from scratching it.
On the back are the battery status indicator lights, power switch and micro USB. The back is covered with high-quality soft touch paint.
The micro USB connector is recessed which really helps the case feel more sleek. The downside is that the space around the connector can make for a tight fit with some cables.
You can get the case to charge your iPhone battery by pressing the power button. If you want it to stop, you can press the button for 10 seconds. There are four lights to tell you how much charge the caseís battery has left.
The top part has little indents on the side and is slightly soft to the touch which makes it grippy. The fit is excellent, it only covers the sides so it wonít interfere if you have a thick glass screen protector.
There are covers for the power and volume buttons and a cut for the silent mode switch. In tactile terms, the button covers are simultaneously mushy and stiff and donít feel very nice though they are functional.
Once you snap the top part on you can feel the quality. In terms of fit and finish my only complaint is that there are 2 small gaps on the bottom part of the front which touches the bottom corners of the iPhone. They look out of place and kind of bothered me.
The lightning connector, battery and micro USB port do add quite a bit to the 5sí svelte profile.
With the case on, the 5s is slightly longer than most 5Ē Android phones, about twice as thick though itís still slightly narrower.
Still, I donít find it really affects how I hold my 5s much. The shape of the back of the case helps to make it feel smaller than it really is. With the case on, the 5s reminds me of a ruggedized phone.
Then again, if you think the 5s is already too big then youíll want to skip this case.
When you plug the case into the charger, itís smart enough to charge your iPhone first and then charge the battery in the case once your iPhone is full.
Speaking of charging, since the case has a built-in lightning connector, you just use a single MicroUSB cable to charge both the case and your iPhone. This is great if youíre travelling since you only need to bring one cable.
Despite having a total of 3540mAh, the case only charges at 5 watts (1 AMP). That means both the case and the iPhone should take around 4 hours to charge completely. It would have been nice if the case could accept a charge of 10 watts and then charge both the iPhone and the case simultaneously.
Included in the box is a MicroUSB cable but no charger. This shouldnít be a problem since every iPhone ships with a charger with a USB port on it.
Another benefit to having a built-in lightning connector is that you don't need any more lightning cables to charge your iPhone. Lightning cables tend to cost a lot more than MicroUSB cables so in that sense, you save some money. Since it's a lightning connector you also don't need to worry about a future iOS update nuking the connector like what happened to many 8 pin (non-lightning) cables with iOS 7.
There are deep openings at the bottom of the case for the speaker and microphone.
I suspect theyíre this deep because the lightning connector adds a certain amount of length that canít be avoided since companies seem wary of deviating too much from Apple's design.
While the openings donít seem to affect the speaker or microphone much, they do make it so you wonít be able to plug most headphones in without using the included extension cable. This can be a bit of a nuisance if you lose the extension cable.
If you're just using the included Apple's EarPod headphones or any other headphones with a straight connector you won't need the extension cable
Iím pretty happy with the case but there is one big problem; my computer is not able to see my iPhone if itís in the case when I plug it in. All it will do is charge. I donít know about you but for me this is a bit of a deal breaker since I prefer to backup my photos to my computer regularly.
Still, if you donít need to backup your photos to your computer iTunes does support WiFi sync or you could always use iCloud so how big a deal this is really depends on how you sync your iPhone.
Adding the Belkin grip power case to your iPhone makes your iPhone so much better. Itís like adding a cherry to your sundae, icing on a cake or adding LTE to an iPad. Theyíre made for each other.
However, you do have to sacrifice your iPhoneís form factor. To me, the shape of the case makes this tradeoff tolerable.
You also lose the ability to access your iPhone via USB cable but with iTunes WiFi sync and iCloud this may also be acceptable to most users.
Looking around, these cases go for around $70 (at Amazon.com in the US and at my local Costco in Canada). Is it worth it? I'd say yes. $70 isn't cheap but for the added battery life and the fact that you can now charge with regular MicroUSB cables which should save you some money - that makes it worth it.
Iíd give it 4 out of 5 Howies.
- enough power to get you through the day - 2000mAh goes a long way with an iPhone
- well made
- attractive design
- built-in lightning connector simplifies charging
- USB port is only for charging
- buttons feel cheap
- most headphones will need the included headphone extension cable
- gaps at the corners