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article imageReview: LifeCHARGE iPhone 5/5S MFi approved battery case

By Milton Este     Jan 31, 2014 in Technology
LifeCHARGE recently released a slight variation of the iPhone case, this time focusing more on design and less on screen protection. The screen cover flap has been removed and the body is now boxier allowing it to make better contact with flat surfaces.
With two versions of the battery case to choose from, iPhone users have more choice when it comes to comparing the trade-off between protection and design. This review will focus exclusively on the flapless case, with occasional references to its predecessor.
After an extensive licensing with Apple, the LifeCHARGE iPhone 5/ 5S battery case is officially MFi approved. This is simply a license certification stating that the product is guaranteed to work with Apple products. In this case, it does and previous LifeCHARGE products without the MFi approval also works as well so there is nothing to worry about here. Is this battery case really worth the price is charges? Well, we are here to find out.
LifeCHARGE keeps its packaging quite consistent and ensuring that it is left to a minimal. The box itself consists of a layered cardboard construction with a plastic shell keeping the actual case in place especially against possible damages when the package bumps around while being shipped. You will find a very short instructions manual in the back concealed behind the plastic shell mold. The data cable is hidden away from sight. It comes wrapped with its own travel baggy. This is nothing fancy, just a plastic zip-lock with a wire tie holding it in place. The whole thing is wrapped around with a portion of the card board box.
Open box
Open box
The full technical specifications and safety warnings are in the instructions manual. The box does offer a summary of key features, technical specifications, and safety warnings. Let’s take a quick look at some of the selling points of this battery case. While advertised as a two-in-one case, this requires some explanation. The case aims at extending the usage time by charging the inserted iPhone without a power source. There is no need to run a cord to the nearest wall outlet. When the inserted iPhone’s battery is reaches a critically low point, simply hit the button on the back, and continue normal usage. This battery’s capacity sits at 2,300 mAh with about a 75% efficiency load. This simply means about 1,725 mAh of the 2,300 mAh is fully utilized. Comparing the iPhone’s 1,440 mAh capacity to the efficiency load, a full charge and slightly more can be expected from this battery case. The second part of the two-in-one advertised feature is the phone protection. As mentioned earlier, the screen flap does not exist on this case as seen with the other iPhone battery case version. Therefore, screen protection can only come from having an external screen protector. Instead, this case focuses on drop protection. Don’t expect to test this case to the extreme; throwing it off a 20 story building is not advised. Because it isn’t 100% designed for drop protection, its shock absorption effectiveness simply is no match for drop protection specialists such as Otterbox. This case will protect inserted iPhones from an occasional bump or scrape, but do not expect anything more from it.
Port view
Port view
The battery case comes with an embedded micro-USB charger port. Owners have the option of charging the battery case and their inserted iPhone simultaneously. This eliminates the need to actually take out the iPhone. However, the case is not capable of porting PC-transfers. In the event that requires hooking the inserted iPhone to a computer, it must first be removed from the case.
Of course, this case is easily removable. It features two parts – a smaller upper casing that’s teethed-in with the lower rest of the body. The battery rests within the lower body while the upper casing is only locked in to hold the owner’s iPhone in place. After it is removed, an iPhone can be inserted. There will be raised grooves to guide the iPhone to smoothly sliding into place. Another difference between this case and its alternative version is the choice of material used on the inside. Both versions feature a hardened rubberized plastic to provide grip as well as anti-skid. However, the other version has a layer of felt material coated on the inside to prevent scratches against the back of the iPhone. However, this case kept the choice of materials consistent both externally and internally. This may be problematic as the hardened rubberized plastic has a chance of leaving markings on the back of the inserted iPhone.
Turning over the case reveals four LED lights on the bottom right hand side. Immediately following that is the power button. The four LED lights represent the full capacity of the battery case so naturally each LED light represents 25%. Once the battery level is less than 25%, the last LED light will start flashing signaling it’s time to recharge. Taking a look at the battery case’s LED lights, they don’t seem to be separated internally. This makes it a bit difficult to determine which lights are truly lit. Taking a look at the image above, it could very well be two or three lights lit. Because of this leakage, it is probably safer to round them down. If it looks like three LED lights are lit, it would be safer to round it down to two.
It took close to two and a half hours to charge the battery case from empty to full using a 2.1A USB wall adapter. This time will double using a 1.0A output and will be about seven hours if plugged into the USB slot of a computer. The time it takes to charge the iPhone varies drastically depending on usage. Current restriction impacts the charging speed of the phone. It takes about three hours, give or take, to charge an iPhone from the battery case. Of course, active background applications, processes, and internet connectivity all have an impact on the charging speed. The phone’s battery may continue falling if the charging rate is less than the consumption rate, but this seems to occur only when running very intensive applications. Under normal usage, the worst case scenario would result in a constant battery state. If the phone’s battery sits at 20% and the battery case is turned on, the phone’s battery status will display “charging” but will sit constant at 20%.
This case offers an affordable solution for a quick battery boost. It does offer very basic bump protection, but in no way can absorb shock or withstand very large drops. The screen is not sealed, which would require a separate screen-protection add-on. If a screen protector is used, it requires moderate effort to push the phone into place. The battery capacity doubles the usage time for the iPhone on a single charge making it great for those with a long work day, commuters, and travelers. Its removability allows for an easy transition between at home stereo docking and outdoor power boosting.
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