Case-Mate Fuel Lite & Max Review: Packing Serious Power for the Power User


I think those of us Gear Diary writers who own the iPhone 4 have been pretty impressed with its battery life. Unlike the iPhone 3G or 3Gs, on most days we’re able to make it through an entire day without a recharge. However, on days when we’re out and about for extended periods of time or just really relying on our phones recharging sometime during the day becomes a necessity. And for us specifically CES is fast approaching and that’s one week where an extra battery, or two, or three, for your phone becomes a must have.

Case-Mate recently released the updated iPhone 4 version of their popular “Fuel” line of extended battery cases. This time they’ve rolled out two models. The Fuel Lite, which is a 1020 mAh battery and the Fuel Max which offers an impressive 2000 mAh of recharging power.

The Fuel Lite offers 1020 mAh. It’ll recharge your completely dead iPhone 4 battery back to about 75% charge. Or if you turn it on right about the time your iPhone starts giving you that 20% battery warning message you’ll make it back to a full charge.


Both the Fuel battery cases come with one screen protection kit (which includes a crystal clear screen shield, installation card and cleaning cloth) instruction manual and micro USB to USB charge and sync cable. The case itself is coated in a black soft-tough material which makes it a pleasure to hold.


The first thing you’ll need to do is charge up the Fuel’s battery. You do this via the included USB cable and one of your computer’s available USB ports. Blue LEDs let you know how much power/charging you have remaining in the battery.


This is a two piece, slider style case that separates at the top via a button on the back.


The Fuel Lite slides easily onto the iPhone 4 and the fit is perfect. There’s no creaking or movement of the case at all once its on your phone. It offers a decent amount of lay-on-the-table design without bubbling your screen shield too.


The back of the case features a generous cut out for the iPhone’s camera and LED flash. Since this case is all black you needn’t worry about any washout effect from the LED flash.


On the bottom of the Fuel Lite you’ll find two cutouts, one for the iPhone’s speaker and one for the main microphone. The micro USB port is used not only for re-charging the cases’s battery but allows you to sync your iPhone with iTunes without removing it from the case.


On the left side of the case there is one large cutout for access to the iPhone’s volume buttons and vibrate switch.


And on the top two cutouts give way to the headset jack and sleep/awake button.


When your iPhone is in need of some extra juice you simply press and hold the small on/off button located on the back of the Fuel. The blue LED indicators light up telling you how much power you have remaining and charging begins.


If you require serious power the Fuel Max bumps up your charge reserve to a whopping 2000 mAh.


Surprisingly though and happily, the Max isn’t much larger than the Lite as seen here in the photo below. 2000 mAh means you’ll be able to recharge your dead iPhone 4 and 1/2 times.


Everything else about the Fuel Max is the same as the Fuel Lite, including the screen shield kit, USB cable, ports, buttons etc.


It may not appear that much thicker at first glance but the Max definitely packs some heft to it and certainly feels heavier and bulkier than the Lite. But remember you’re getting twice the power.


We’ve seen a few extended batteries for the iPhone 4 so far. But the Case-Mate Fuel lineup is the first we’ve seen to offer two choices when it comes to the amount of on-the-go recharge power you need. The Lite at 1000 mAh is perfect for the casual user who doesn’t always run out of juice but occasionally needs a little extra power. The Max is for the true power user who is always looking for an outlet to recharge his/her phone during the day.

Both models offer a superb fit, good lay on-the-table design and extra grip. They won’t bubble screen shields and even come with a screen shield kit as an added bonus (every case Case-Mate sells does.)

Both the Fuel Lite and the Fuel Max are available right now directly from the Case-Mate web site here.

MSRP: Lite – $59.99 and Max – $99.99

What I Liked: Soft touch material offers good grip, doesn’t bubble screen shields.

What Needs Improvement: LEDs stay on when using.

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