Hands on: Case-Mate’s iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel Lite case

Sections: Features, Hands On / First Looks, iDevice Accessories, iPhone, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad

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Case-Mate's Fuel Lite case, side

There are hundreds of cases available that offer several methods of keeping you and your iPhone happy throughout the day. The majority simply protect your device, but there are a growing number of options to keep your iPhone topped up with juice, and that’s what the Fuel Lite case from Case-Mate aims to do. We had a chance to play with one at this year’s Gadget Show Live event, held at the National Exhibition Center in the UK, and it has to be said—we were quite impressed.

I’m sure we all love our iPhones, but we’re not entirely satisfied when it comes to battery life. My iPhone 3G, for example, needs a wall plug every night. If I’m using it heavily throughout the day, a power-nap is required in the afternoon to keep it going. I’ve fallen into a cycle with it; I know that I have to dock it each night, and if I plan to be away from home for a long day, 3G and brightness are usually turned off and down, respectfully. It’s a solution, but it’s not the best solution.

I’d love an iPhone case that can provide a little more power to my device, but I don’t want to have to compromise too badly when it comes to size. Amazingly, the Case-Mate Fuel Lite case achieves the best of both worlds. Its form factor is really not all that much bigger than a naked iPhone. Sure, it’s a little thicker and slightly longer, but the plush-finish around the screen looks great, and it feels pretty similar in the hand, too. It’s not at all bulky. In fact, I preferred how my phone felt while it was in the case. Without it on, it felt on the small side (although playing with an iPad just minutes before probably didn’t help).

Case-Mate's Fuel Lite case, front

The power side of things is great, too. Case-Mate claims you can get up to 100 additional hours of standby time, another two hours for talking or surfing the Internet, and enough time to watch another movie. We didn’t have the chance to test out these figures exactly, but with my iPhone daringly close to dying, it managed to replenish around 80% of charge. That would be enough to get me through a second day of usage, if not a full day of heavy browsing and email.

There’s a handy on/off button on the back of the case. When the case is turned off, you’re simply using your iPhone’s charge. Turn the case on, and your iPhone will begin charging. Simple. When you plug in the Fuel Lite case (via mini-USB) it begins to charge itself, and when the iPhone is in the case and the case is turned on while also being plugged in, both the case and iPhone will charge, giving you around 180% of battery life at your disposal.

Case-Mate's Fuel Lite case, back

It’s unfortunate, but with the case on, there’s no access to the 30-pin dock connector. Although, with almost every case available, you have to remove them before you can dock them anyway. Instead, you can synchronize your iPhone through iTunes via the mini-USB connection used to charge the case, so there’s not much that’s lost.

Overall, the Fuel Lite case from Case-Mate seems to us like a great solution for keeping your iPhone not only protected, but fully charged, too. The design is elegant, the form-factor is sleek, the additional battery life is brilliant, and the price ($49.99) is fantastic. I’m trying to find a reason why I don’t need to purchase this case, but I must tell you I’m finding it pretty hard.

Product [Fuel Lite case for iPhone 3G/3GS]

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