With recent complaints from iPhone 4S owners of a less than ideal battery life, it is no surprise that Apple’s latest smartphone lacks a suitable battery for active use. Despite releasing an iOS 5 update, promising to “fix” the battery bug, Apple has done little to help iPhone 4S users maintain a solid day of usage.
While Apple continues to resolve this problem, the PowerSkin case for the iPhone 4S promises to double the phone’s battery life, thanks to a built-in 2,000 mAh battery. So is this a clever marketing gimmick by PowerSkin or will users of Apple's latest smartphone actually be able to use this device for more than eight hours?
BUILD & DESIGN
The PowerSkin case itself is made up of rubber silicone, which gets props for being constructed out of recycled material. Weighing in at only 82 grams, the case is lightweight, smooth and fairly sturdy. Thanks to its box-like build, the PowerSkin case for iPhone 4/4S appears to offer some level of shock absorption for those mild occasional drops, though I wouldn’t make a habit of flinging your phone on the ground, even with the PowerSkin in tow.
Unfortunately, the battery-packed case brings some unwanted bulk to the slender iPhone 4S. After placing the Apple smartphone in our PowerSkin unit, it immediately doubled in size, losing its sleek design. It becomes both taller and thicker.
Aesthetics aside, the case provides the necessary cutouts and outlines that any fully-functional case should. While the display is left unprotected, as with most cases out there, the PowerSkin cover protects the fragile glass backing of the iPhone 4S thanks to a hard rubber support, yet a perfectly positioned cutout leaves the 8MP camera unobstructed. The left side of the case also provides a cutout for the vibrate switch, while two outlined circles are positioned directly over the volume buttons. The top edge of the case houses another cutout for the 3.5mm headset jack and another outline for the power button.
Unique to the PowerSkin case is a collection of four blue LEDs, placed consecutively along the bottom edge, with a button nearby that activates the charging mechanism after a tactile long press. The lights gauge the PowerSkin’s battery levels, while charging and during usage.
The built-in battery charges via a USB port, which sits on the bottom right side of the case; though the case takes a significant amount of time to charge, as our in-house unit took more than 2 hours to charge only halfway. An interesting feature, the PowerSkin allows you to sync your phone with iTunes while charging the case, i.e. removal of the case is not necessary.
So does the PowerSkin really provide double the battery life of the iPhone 4S? While other companies may lead you astray with false advertising, PowerSkin does not. This accessory provided 4½ hours of extra battery life when tested.
After setting the screen brightness to max, turning Wi-Fi on and streaming movies on Netflix, the iPhone 4S on its own kicked out after only 3½ hours. Yet, with the fully charged PowerSkin case attached, the phone lasted 7 hours and 35 minutes under the same circumstance. Additionally, the case fully charged the dead iPhone in 1 hour and 42 minutes, which is similar to the amount of time a wall charger takes.
It is clear that the 2,000 mAh battery of the PowerSkin case packs exactly what the company promises, offering iPhone 4S users guaranteed full day usage.
While the PowerSkin case for the iPhone 4/4S will certainly offer users extended hours of use, the extra juice comes at a price, and more than just its $80 tag. Owners must decide if the extra power is worth the added bulk of the PowerSkin case.
While some users won’t mind the hefty transformation, others may not be too pleased with the brick-like appearance their iPhone takes on with the PowerSkin attached. Nevertheless, the PowerSkin case for the iPhone lives up to its promise of providing twice the power, while offering decent protection.
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