Provides: Extra battery power and dust/scratch/impact protection for iPhone
Compatibility: iPhone 4/4S
Availability: Out now
The PowerSkin is a very simple case, and it recently got a bit of an upgrade. The new edition combines a soft silicone bumper, hard shell exterior (in glossy black or titanium grey), and a built-in battery to provide additional power to your iPhone, delaying that dreaded “Battery Low” warning for (quite) a few more hours. Dedicated conference callers and iPhone users who find all their personal browsing relegated to an iPhone due to restrictive company policies will all find something to love in the PowerSkin. It extends your talk and browsing time without fear of a dead battery, so you can take that call and get your Appletell/Facebook/Buzzfeed fix for longer.
If you regularly find yourself with a dying iPhone, the PowerSkin will give you the extra jolt you need to power through an entire day and then some. The case can provide up to 200 additional hours of standby time or 5 extra hours of talk time in addition to the iPhone’s built-in capacity. In testing, this worked out to about three days of power with light conversations (~20 min) and a few hours of Flipboard/email/web browsing each day. This freedom recalls the halcyon days of the flip phone when you could charge once a week, back when cell phones were just phones and Facebook was still exclusive.
The PowerSkin’s design is masterfully understated, and adds only minimal bulk to your iPhone. It is easy to apply and remove (no more challenging than docking an iPhone), requiring that you just dock the phone and slip the soft, grippable silicone over the top edge of the iPhone. A combined on/off and power level indicator button is located on the side, while the rubber edges provide drop/shock protection and cover the volume/lock buttons to keep dust out.
The biggest change over a naked iPhone is the slight bulge out back and the overhang on the bottom edge of the phone; with the PowerSkin, your iPhone 4/4S is almost as tall as an iPhone 5. The design completely covers the bottom of the phone and sticks out about half an inch, so the case features a scooped cutout for the speaker and microphone.
The additional juice delivered by the PowerSkin does come without a few minor drawbacks. The scooped cutout over the microphone limits the mic’s omnidirectional pickup, so you need to make sure your iPhone is face up or facing you when on a call (not really a serious problem, but it may be a change in how you use your phone).
The PowerSkin also changes the external connection interface from the Apple Dock Connector to a Micro USB port. Most iPhone accessories are designed for a dock connector—from speaker docks to audio/video out cables—so this can be a challenge. The Micro USB connector can both sync and charge your iPhone, and of course the case is a snap to slip off if you do want to plug in any Dock-equipped accessories. Interestingly, during review, this issue was less important than expected, as the proliferation of Apple TVs, Bluetooth- and AirPlay-equipped speakers means you can get your media onto a bigger screen/speaker without wires. Maybe the hubbub about Apple’s shift to the Lightning connector is a bit overblown?
The PowerSkin is available in either a glossy black or matte titanium, and ranks as a must-have accessory for anybody who regularly faces the specter of the red battery icon. This case is especially useful for users with an older phone starting to show its age with decreased battery life. Although the case adds a minor amount of bulk, it is still easily pocketable, and, more importantly, provides the extra juice you need to get through the day.