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August 16, 2011 • Reviews

iPhone 4 Power Gear Review: PhoneSuit Elite Battery + Case

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I’m a big fan of iPhone battery cases that combine protection and extra battery life into a single package. Since the release of the original iPhone, we have looked at a number of these hybrid case-batteries, and today we’ll take a look at PhoneSuit’s latest offering: the PhoneSuit Elite iPhone Case. The company is not stranger to this kind of battery case, and their experience shows in both the Elite’s design and its functionality.

Preview

From PhoneSuit:

The PhoneSuit Elite iPhone Case extends the battery life of the iPhone by more than doubling its power capacity. Users can now experience up to two days or more of uninterrupted iPhone power. Enjoy more time on the iPhone for voice, music, video, games and business applications. . The PhoneSuit Elite features a high-capacity 2100mAh battery that can provide a complete 100% charge to the iPhone. Quick charge technology delivers this power at full 5 Watt / 1 Amp output speed. Innovative, contemporary design aesthetics are applied in both the product and packaging. It’s the perfect blend of power, protection and style. With the PhoneSuit Elite you can have portable power anytime you need it.

Specs:

Battery Capacity: 2100 mAh

DC OUT: 5V @ 1A

Size: L 126 x W 62 x H 17 mm / L 4.9 x 2.4 x 0.67 in

Weight: 79g / 2.78 oz

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As we will see, the case itself is fairly simple but packs a lot of functionality. That’s why an image like this can be so useful in its ability to provide a clear sense of all that is packed into this black battery case.

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Anyone who has used an iPhone 4 (or any of the super-smartphones on the market) knows that battery life has improved but still leaves a lot to be desired. This simple graphic makes the case for the PhoneSuit Elite. Simply put, the case-battery will double your time between charges.

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In the box you’ll get the battery case, a microUSB charging cable and two plastic caps that fit over the iPhone 4 and snap in place. Since this is the part of the PhoneSuit Elite that is most likely to get lost or broken, it is a nice “extra” that PhoneSuit includes in the box.

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The bottom of the case has the company name but no other markings. The logo is quite obvious, but not so large or loud as to be problematic for me.

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Charge & Sync with iTunes: You can Sync your iPhone with iTunes while its attached to the PhoneSuit Elite. Charge the PhoneSuit battery, iPhone and sync all at the same time. Use the included Micro-USB cable and connect to the USB port of the computer to which you wish to use with iTunes.

The bottom of the case has a microUSB charging port, a toggle switch to turn it on and off and two cutouts that allow sound to pass through it. Obviously the 30-pin dock connector is covered and “replaced” by the microUSB. This has the added side-benefit of making the iPhone’s sync/charging more universal since the microUSB has become a sort of defacto universal port on small mobile devices.

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The lower back portion of the case has a strip of smooth material that, when activated, shows you how much of a charge you have left in the case. As the company explains:

Innovative Five Point LED Light Meter: The Unique design of the battery status meter keeps the lights hidden for an attractive uniform appearance. Activating the meter conveniently reveals the remaining power status.

I’m not sure just how “innovative” this is, but it does the job quite well.

Speaking of the charge, the PhoneSuit Elite packs a 2100 mAh battery inside and that is just the beginning.

Did you know? Not all batteries are created equal: The iPhone 4 has an internal battery rated at a 1420 mAh capacity. So does this mean a new 1500 mAh battery pack can provide an iPhone with ample power for a full charge? No, actually It does not. All external battery packs lose some energy when powering USB devices. There is typically a 65% to 70% efficiency in this charging process. The PhoneSuit Elite’s high quality lithium-ion polymer cells deliver up to a 70% efficiency rating when powering your iPhone. Along with its 2100mah internal battery, that’s is more than enough to provide a true 100% iPhone charge. Take a look and compare battery packs with the informative battery efficiency chart on the left.

The case can even charge the iPhone in under 2 hours!

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Once you slide the iPhone 4 into the casein is held snuggly but not too tightly. The cutout for the iPhone’s camera is large enough to avoid any obstructing of the lens or flash.

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This image will give you a better idea of the precise fit the PhoneSuit Elite offers.

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And another…

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As you can see, the PhoneSuit Elite adds very little to the width of the iPhone 4. Yes, it does as a bit of height but that is necessitated by the dock connector design. Overall the battery-case doesn’t add a tremendous amount of bulk or weight to the iPhone and can be used on the device full-time if you so choose.

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It doesn’t provide the slightest bit of “lay on the table” protection. That’s a bummer but not a deal-breaker. Turns our there is about a 1mm rise above the iPhones screen so sue protection is offered. In my case much of that is used up by a fairly thick screen protector but still, the case does afford some protection if you put your iPhone face down. (My recommendation- don’t do it regardless.)

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Here you can see the tight fit of the case. It is pretty impressive that such a thin case packs a 2100 mAh battery.

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Yes, it does add some depth to the iPhone 4 but when you hold the Elite in your hand you don’t seem to really notice it.

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Seriously, this isn’t any more bulky than a number of different slider cases we’ve seen that are JUST cases. It is an impressive achievement.

Preview

The PhoneSuit Elite Battery + Case for iPhone 4 is an impressive battery-case for the current iPhone. It does a decent job of protecting the sides and back of the iPhone and literally doubles the amount of time you can go between charges. That’s a great thing if you are out and about all day and rely heavily on your iPhone for work and play. At $79.95 it is priced the same as Mophie’s 1500 mAh Juice Pack Air and $20 less than their 2000 mAh offering. Obviously that alone makes it worth considering.

My biggest question about the battery-case isn’t so much about the accessory but rather the timing. We are getting closer and closer to the announcement and hopefully release of the iPhone 5. That means the PhoneSuit Elite is late in the life cycle for the iPhone 4 and attention will be focused on the newest iDevice. Sure, there are and will be plenty of iPhone 4s in the marketplace for the foreseeable future and it is likely that Apple will continue to sell the iPhone 4 or something based on it as a less expensive model but I do hope PhoneSuit will get a battery-case like this out for the iPhone 5 much more quickly. After all, I don’t imagine the new iPhone is going to be all that much better in the battery department.

Safari

The PhoneSuit Elite Battery + Case for iPhone 4 is available in black and can be ordered directly from the company. More colors are on the way in the near future.

MSRP: $79.95

What I Like: Includes extra cap; Formfitting; Doubles iPhone 4 runtime; Protects back and sides quite well; “Hidden” indicator light lets you know just how much of a charge is left

What Needs Improvement: Late in the iPhone 4s life cycle; No Minimal “lay on the table” protection; Currently only available in black

 

6 Responses to " iPhone 4 Power Gear Review: PhoneSuit Elite Battery + Case "

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice case/battery combo. Not a fan of the conspicuous branding, although not as in-your-face as others have been (I’m looking at you Energizer).

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is actually the first I’ve heard of such battery/case hybrids, and I’m very impressed. Phonesuit doesn’t take away from the aesthetic properties of the case while adding much needed battery power. Great work.

  3. Lana D says:

    This is great.. dual purposes WOW

  4. Now that the iPhone 4 battery is much improved, extended battery cases for me are something to use only occasionally. So, I appreciate cases that are easy to remove.

  5. thelarster says:

    Perfect for long business trips!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Using GPS in the background a lot makes this concept of extra battery power look that much more attractive. Mmm… Sweet, sweet battery power…

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