Logitech, in many ways, keeps ramping up the quality of offerings for its Apple stuff, and the latest two things I got to look at are beautifully made and well designed.
The case+energy comprises a fairly normal-style hard case for iPhone 5 or 5s with a metal back, plus a second part virtually the same size. Once the iPhone is in the normal case part of this package (it comes with two components plus a charge cable), the feel isn’t too dissimilar to the iPhone itself, uncased – firm and hard-edged, although the smooth-touch polycarbonate parts are slightly soft to the touch and feel nice. The second, and ‘back’ part of the case, houses a battery. With this on, it effectively doubles the battery life of your iPhone, and this back-case has the smooth, slightly satiny polycarbonate all over.
The hard case snaps on. It’s not that easy to remove the iPhone from it, should you want to – this takes a bit or earnest levering, as is the case with most hard cases. The case has a cutaway for the camera lens and there are others at the bottom for the earbud port, speakers and connector, plus slots on the left hand side and top for the Sleep/on-off buttons and volume and mute.
These do allow access, but they are effectively recessed in slots, so not quite as handy as those cases that add flexible buttons as par tot the case to make it easier to depress the iPhone buttons fitting underneath. But it just takes a little getting used to.
The point of the metal back to the iPhone case half is not just its welcome strength and rigidity – it’s magnetic, which means it mounts in a snap (literally – it’s quite a strong magnet) to Logitech’s ‘+ drive’ car mount (that’s a separate review).
This spares you from putting one of the two stick-on magnetic panels that comes with that, which you can then use for other things.
Once you slip the iPhone into the Lightning connector on the battery pack then snap the top of the iPhone against the clip at the top of the charger, the case-back part charges your iPhone in turn.That’s the good news. The bad news is that, thanks to the dock connector sticking out and thanks to the fact that the iPhone becomes a pretty thick unit with both cases on, it’s pretty hard to thrust it into a pocket once the case, iPhone and case-back is all mounted together into one unit. It’s slicker looking and feeling than that might sound, but I’d worry constantly about catching that stick-out connector on something. So if you don’t mind a bulky (at least twice as thick) unit and you don’t keep your iPhone in your pocket, you might like to leave the battery-back constantly on the iPhone for a double-length charge, but that’s not the intention. The intention (its called case-PLUS-energy, after all) is an accessory you can carry that helps you out if you get caught short.
You’d probably prefer (I would) to charge the battery-back separately in your bag for those long haul flights or emergencies when you can’t get near a charger, having remembered to load up some charge into it, of course, before the trip. Then put it together and there you go – at least as long again of iPhone goodness.
If you plug the included mini-USB cable into the charge-back while it’s mounted on the iPhone, it charges the iPhone first, then the spare battery in the case-back. In turn, once mounted, the battery pack recharges the iPhone. The USB end of the supplied cable goes into your standard iPhone charger wall plug, or your car charger if you have one. Of course, you can charge your iPhone and the case separately, too.
According to Logitech, the case+energy battery pack offers your iPhone an additional 2300mAh of power – the current iPhone 5 battery has 1440mAh and iPhone 5s 1570mAh. On the back of the battery part, a little line-button, once depressed, shows green lights in series to show charge – four lights is full, one means almost empty, and these blink then solidify to show charge progress.
To get the iPhone off, the Lightning connector flexes. You put your thumb on that (there’s a video at the link below that shows you how) and bend, and the iPhone pops out of the battery cases top-clip and you take it off.
This is one nicely made product that could solve your charging needs, but it adds bulk if you are want to keep them together rather. I’d be a little worried about the lump at the bottom for the Lightning connector, but I don’t know how else this might have been achieved.
A smart, well-made, nice feeling case with two awesome extras: it snaps to the +drive car mount, and it adds at least double the battery life to your iPhone 5 or 5s. That also means if you have a 5 now (as I do) and you’re considering a 5s in the future, you can hang on to this excellent case for that as well.
Bulky (the iPhone is almost all battery anyway, so add another one and that’s what you get), and there’s that protruding Lightning lump at the bottom that catches on things.
Anyone who hates getting caught without any juice. Great for any travellers, or even those with big pockets, or perhaps heavy users who always carry their smart iOS device in a bag and don’t mind the bulk.
Mac NZ’s buying advice
I like it. This could be the answer to your prayers, but consider how you like to carry and use your iPhone.
Logitech iPhone 5 case+energy, NZ$129
iPhone 5, iPhone 5s, and it comes in black or white to suit (the white one has a green dock connector), the black has grey).
Logitech NZ Ltd (and check at your favourite retailers)