The PowerSkin for iPhone 4 ($80) is a silicone case with a built-in rechargeable 2,000 mAh battery that claims to double your device’s battery life with patented “XPAL Power” battery technology. Like most battery cases, it uses a mini-USB port to charge and sync your iPhone simultaneously, and you can turn the case on and off when necessary. The four-LED battery indicator will let you know how much juice you have remaining at the touch of a button.
Firstly, the PowerSkin looks great. As soon as you remove it from its box, you’ll notice a refreshing appearance that’s unlike many of the other battery cases on the market. I’ve had and reviewed a number of these things, but the PowerSkin is actually the first I’ve used to be made from silicone. And I’m a big fan of it.
PowerSkin claims that this case is lightweight, and those claims aren’t unfounded; of course, there is a little weight there, but you’ve got to expect that from a case with a built-in battery, and there isn’t so much that it’s unbearable. Again, the silicone helps keep the weight down, and means the PowerSkin should be lighter than many of its hard plastic rivals.
But just like its hard plastic rivals, the PowerSkin is incredibly protective. That silicone is thick enough to withstand some pretty big drops without doing any damage to your device. And it’s sturdy; the build quality is excellent and I certainly don’t feel like the PowerSkin is going to deteriorate anytime soon.
The built-in battery status LEDs mean you can continuously keep track of your remaining battery life — simply by touching the button on the bottom of the case. Hold that button in and it’ll turn the PowerSkin’s charging function off. This is great if you don’t want it to continually charge your iPhone while you’re using it.
For me, the battery life with the PowerSkin is fantastic. After a couple of days of use, I found myself pressing the button at the bottom of the case continually just waiting for the thing to run out. On long journeys, where I’d usually listen to music or catch up on TV shows, would probably eat around 20% of my battery before — meaning that by dinner time my iPhone needed more power. With the PowerSkin, however, my iPhone didn’t even feel it.
As for charging, I slapped it on my iPhone 4 while the battery was near enough dead and it gave me 51% of battery life in just one hour. To charge completely, the PowerSkin took just under two hours, which I though was rather impressive — that matches the PhoneSuit Elite, and it’s just as long as it takes my iPhone to charge while hooked up to the mains.
It seems to be pretty much perfect in every way. It looks good, it feels good, it’s not too heavy, the battery life is good… I could go on all day.
However, when you compare it to some of the other cases we’ve reviewed this week, there is a little room for improvement. The PowerSkin takes nearly just as long to charge as the PhoneSuit Elite — which is considerably longer than the XtremeMac InCharge Mobile — a whopping five-hour wait before full charge. And it can’t match the PhoneSuit Elite‘s sleekness, even though the latter has a slightly larger battery.
Again, picking fault with the PowerSkin really is a difficult task. There’s so much I like about it, and I really can’t seem to find anything I don’t. It’s by far the best battery case I’ve used for the iPhone 4 to date; I can’t recommend it enough. However, its charge time can be improved a little, and it could lose a little weight.
[xrr rating = 80%]