Reading, surfing, watching movies, listening to music — these are all activities that I enjoy doing on my iPhone; when I do them I usually have a rough idea of what type of battery life I should be able to expect, and it helps that I can watch the battery icon. However, I’ve recently discovered a game that has singlehandedly wiped out my iPhone’s battery more quickly than anything I have ever seen: Plants vs. Zombies (reviewed by Michael here).
You can’t watch the clock or the battery icon when playing PvZ, which usually means that you’ll play much longer than planned … and by the time you realize that an hour or so has gone by, you’ll also find that your battery is alarmingly low. Fortunately, I already had the TruePower iV Pro 3100mAh extended battery in my queue when I began playing PvZ, which gave me the perfect way to test the battery’s form and function.
The TruePower iV is designed similarly to other holster-style extended batteries we’ve reviewed, because you can simply slide the iPhone in for an immediate charge when needed. And as with the other holster-styles we’ve seen, this type the extended battery adds a lot more bulk than those which are case-style ; in return you receive a substantial increase in Milliamps.
The TruePower iV packs two extra features that make it more intriguing than most: it has a built-in LED flash for picture-taking or for using as an impromptu flashlight, and it has a USB port on the bottom for charging other personal electronics.
A mini USB to USB cable is included, and at first glance you might think that it is solely for charging the battery from a laptop’s USB port. Yes, it is for that purpose, but the cable can also be used to recharge any personal electronic item which would use a mini USB for charging when plugged in the TruePower’s port.
The TruePower iV is composed of black plastic covered in the soft-touch coating that keeps it from being a fingerprint magnet while making it a bit more grippy than slick, shiny plastic. It measures about 5.25″ long x 2.5″ wide x 1″ thick, and it weighs about 4 ounces. It is probably a little bit larger than most would be comfortable with for always keeping on the iPhone, but it can slip into a bag, purse or briefcase easily enough — ready to be put into use when needed.
Battery Capacity: 3100 mAh
Standby Time: More than 900 hours
Continuous Talk time: 9 hours on 3G, 15 hours on 2G
Internet Use: 9 hours on 3G, 11 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: 40 hours
Video Playback: 12 hours
Recharges iPhone: 1 hour
Recharge iV Pro: 3 hours
USB A Port Output: 500 mAh
I thought this chart was a good example of why a larger battery like this would be a great backup. For further comparison, it is 100mAh larger than the USB Fever 3000mAh extended battery holster I reviewed last year, yet when installed on the iPhone the resulting package is substantially smaller. On the other hand, the iV is 1200mAh smaller than the Callpod Fueltank DUO I’ve been using as my “big backup”, but the DUO is a brick that doesn’t slide on my iPhone when the battery is low and I still need to use it.
On the back of the TruePower iV there is a button to check the battery level — which is currently full, a power button to activate the extended battery, and the LED (flash) light.
Whether or not the iPhone is inserted, when the battery is turned on the LED glows red.
When the iPhone is inserted the total package is 5.5″ long, which isn’t too unwieldy when making calls or playing games. I much preferred it to the USB Fever external battery holster I’d reviewed, and which I referred to several times teasingly as a “black shoe”.
Speaker cutouts on the front and bottom of the holster keep the iPhone’s sounds from being muffled; this is especially handy when playing games or listening to music.
The dip in the back’s design keeps the camera from being obstructed.
A sliding power switch on the left side of the holster activates the rear flash.
A full size USB port is on the bottom of the holster, which can be used to charge other devices – with or without the iPhone in the holster. Another cool feature is that you can use this extra USB port as a hub when charging the TruePower and iPhone on your laptop — a feature that is especially precious on USB port-stingy laptops like the MacBook Air.
The LED light is extremely bright, and while it will never be confused with a proper camera flash, it does allow you to get shots that would otherwise be impossible with the iPhone’s camera.
TruePower claims that the holster actually improves signal reception, and I am not 100% scientifically sure that this is true … BUT! I can definitely verify that I saw absolutely no degradation to my signal strength when the iPhone was inserted, in fact I gained a bar. I feel that’s a bit subjective however, as my phone will flip between four and five bars in my home, anyway.
There’s really not much to complain about with the TruePower iV Pro: it’s more than two times the mAh of the iPhone’s battery, it has a built-in LED flash, it isn’t totally huge or obscenely ugly, it can be used as an extended battery for other personal electronics, it didn’t mess up my iPhone’s screen protector when installed, and it doesn’t block the iPhones speakers. Best of all, I was able to use it to recharge my iPhone from about 25% four times; which allowed me to go over two days without plugging my iPhone into an AC or DC charger — something I usually do several times a day whether I need to or not. My only issue with the TruePower iV Pro is that it costs $20 more than a product which appears to be exactly the same thing, albeit one which sports suspiciously inflated specifications. Nevertheless, the TruePower iV Pro has been the perfect addition to my gadget bag. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do, so that was a very pleasant surprise.
Update 03/08/10: When you actually try to place an order, the price for the similar product is actually $99.95; only the 2G version is available for $79.95
If you are struggling to get through the day on your iPhone’s anemic battery, or if you have tried other external batteries that didn’t have quite enough power to last all day and then some (I made it through two solid days before I ran out of backup power), then you ought to give the TruePower iV Pro a try.
The TruePower iV Pro is available from the TruePower site with checkout through Amazon.
MSRP: $99.95 (free Super Saver shipping)
What I Like: Not composed of slick, shiny plastic so it isn’t a fingerprint magnet and it isn’t easy to drop; generous 3100mAh in a relatively compact package; ability to recharge other devices from the USB port on the back; one touch button to know remaining charge or to activate battery power; built-in LED for better photographs in poor lighting; did not mess up my screen protector when installed; I did not notice any hampering of signal strength when the holster was installed; can sync and charge the iPhone through the holster when it is attached to a computer via USB
What Needs Improvement: Possibly overpriced, as there is a similar product available which is $20 less