In this installment of the Portable Power Series we have the CasePower PowerCase for the iPhone 5 and 5s. We have reviewed plenty of battery packs here at t3chniq, but we have not yet reviewed a battery case, and I was excited when we got the opportunity. The CasePower PowerCase is advertised as a thin battery pack that provides over 2 full charges (2400mAh) to the iPhone 5/5s. Does it live up to these claims? Read on to find out.
CasePower advertises Scandinavian design as one of the features of the PowerCase, and while I am not an expert on all of the qualities of Scandinavian Design, I think I can safely sum it up into one tenet: Minimalism. The PowerCase is decidedly minimal. On the front of the case is just a simple base, with speaker vents being the only major feature you see, and a clear plastic frame that holds the phone in place. On the sides are requisite cutouts for the sleep/wake button, volume buttons and mute switch, as well as a very deep and narrow headphone cutout (more on that later) and a microUSB port for charging.
On the back is a slot for the camera that extends across the entire back of the case, a bizarre choice which is great for symmetry, but terrible for device protection, who wants a large patch of glass exposed while in a case? This is certainly a case of function following form, sadly not the other way around. On the back is also a very crude kickstand (that my fingers are too large to open comfortably) and a battery meter/power button.
In order to get your phone into this case, you must remove the plastic frame around the perimeter of the device. There is nothing fancy in terms of attaching this frame, just a series of small slots and tabs that nest into one another as you flex the frame into place. This method is certainly minimal, but it also doesn’t inspire too much confidence in structural integrity. It does, however, work. The phone is held in place, and is mostly protected. The PowerCase adds roughly 9 millimeters to the thickness of the phone, 13 millimeters in height, 3 millimeters in width and 80 grams to the weight. For comparison sake, the Mophie JuicePack Air (which only has a 1700mAh capacity) adds 8.5 mm to the thickness, 17 mm to the height, 6 mm in width, and 76 grams in weight.
All that Scandinavian design is wasted if the product isn’t built well, and in that regard it’s a mixed bag. The frame responsible for holding the case to your phone is chintzy and unintuitive. While it has not broken in my testing, this method and apparatus does not feel secure. As I said above, the kickstand is almost inoperable for me, and overall it seems as if it was an afterthought. While the device is in landscape (the only orientation for the kickstand) there is a noticeable flex in the kickstand body if any weight is added (I found this out with incidental contact, I understand you’re not supposed to press on it, but it was disconcerting nonetheless) and while nested, the kickstand has a noticeable standoff from the main body of the case, causing uneven wear and keeping the phone from sitting flush on a table. Ultimately, the kickstand does what it is supposed to with minimal fuss and supports the device even with light screen presses.
Finally, the headphone jack is just the worst. I understand this is kind of an industry standard maneuver, designing for Apple EarPods, but I could not connect a single pair of headphones that I actually use into this hole. Some manufacturers provide an adapter, and it would be great if CasePower did the same. What good is this case if I can’t even use my headphones?
There is also noticeable creaking in the product in daily use, which is just disappointing.
Ultimately, this case need not do more than power your phone, and in that regard it even misses the manufacturers marks. CasePower states that this will provide over 2 charges to your iPhone 5, but some simple arithmetic proves this to be incorrect. If the battery pack was 100% efficient, and I assure you it isn’t, the iPhone 5 has a 1440mAh battery, and 2400/1440 is 1.67, not even close to the “more than double power” advertised. Of course they could be referring to the initial charge of the phone as normal power, and this case does add more than one more charge, but that would be misleading at best if they count 1 charge + phone charge as double power in the CASE specifications. If someone told me the case adds more than double power, I would assume phone charge + 2x charges. In the end, between poor marketing and poor manufacturing, I would expect this case to be a cheap eBay knockoff, not an MFI certified product from a legitimate manufacturer.
Would I suggest you buy this product? Nope. There are better options out there at the same or better prices. I wanted to like this case; I was ready to love it… I envisioned a future where my iPhone battery lasted 2 days, and I am sure I can find that from some vendor, but unfortunately it is not from CasePower.