iPhone 4/4S extended battery case shoot-out (video)

We’re a society always on the move, and our phones never seem to last long enough. iPhone users have been lucky in the extended battery case department because the singular design has made it easy for accessory manufacturers to develop cases and such in large volume.

Today we’re taking a look at three of the most popular iPhone 4/4S battery cases, Incipio’s Offgrid Pro, mophie’s juice pack air, and xpal’s PowerSkin. All three cases have their own advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll take a look at quickly. Video review is after the break.

Incipio Offgrid Pro

This is an interesting case. The Incipio Offgrid Pro comes in two pieces, a back cover where the battery goes and a sort of bumper for the sides. This is necessitated by the removable 1600mAh battery sitting in the back. The battery case comes, conveniently, with a second 1600mAh battery and a tiny external charger that allows you to keep one cell pumping while the other is in use. While individually the batteries don’t offer as much juice as the 1500mAh mophie but cumulatively the Offgrid is a great option.

Each 1600mAh battery couldn’t quite fully charge the iPhone 4S from zero, but provided an extra 6-8 hours of uptime depending on usage.

At $99.99 it’s the most expensive of the three but you do get a more comprehensive solution for your dime. The only problem is the bumper which, if you’re clumsy like me, may get lost. And because it’s not a unified solution the Offgrid Pro is a little fat and not quite as attractive as the others.

mophie juice pack air

The mophie brand is synonymous with iPhone charging, and for good reason. At $79.95 the juice pack air a great choice for some added uptime during a long trip or excursion. It’s also a two-piece solution: the iPhone slides effortlessly into the bottom piece and a small portion latches onto the top half of the the phone, securing it in place. Because of this the juice pack air never looks quite even; the two pieces don’t line up perfectly. But the feeling of the case in the hand, and the easy access to ports, makes it a very compelling option.

In terms of uptime, the mophie added an extra 7-9 hours of uptime per charge, and brought the iPhone 4S up to around 85% from zero.

Xpal PowerSkin

The Xpal PowerSkin is a relatively unknown line in Canada, but the Energizer-owned brand is trying to beat the competition at its own game. The PowerSkin for iPhone 4/4S is a single-piece rubberized case with a 2000mAh battery. It feels the nicest in the hand of the three we looked at but makes the iPhone a tad thick to use comfortably. The battery, despite being numerically larger than the juice pack air, provided around the same amount of extra uptime.

Where the PowerSkin excels is its build quality and feel in the hand. I have to recommend it for this reason over the other two, as the single-piece solution and rubberized material feels really nice to hold and interact with.

All three cases use microUSB ports to charge, eschewing the need for an iPhone cable. This adds a level of universality to using these cases that adds to the convenience. They also come with battery indicators, either on the front or the bottom depending on the model.

The mophie juice pack air is the most widely available in Canada, with retail availability at Future Shop, Best Buy and others. The Xpal may have to be imported from the States, while Incipio is hit or miss depending on the store. You can find all three products on Amazon.ca.