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Computerized Investing > August 10, 2013
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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

$89.95

iPhone 5 battery case with removable battery.

Back in May I reviewed the PowerSkin for iPhone 5, the first integrated battery case I had found that supported the iPhone 5’s new Lightning connector. This filled the void created when Apple sprung the new connector on consumers and manufacturers alike. Since then, more Lightning cases have been entering the marketplace. Among them is the Mojo Refuel from iBattz, their first integrated battery case for the iPhone 5. While iBattz was designing and manufacturing the Mojo Refuel, the company was selling the Mojo Hi5 Powerbank Case, which was a hard-shell case with an external battery that snapped onto it. It was a good stop-gap measure, but not as elegant as a truly all-in-one case and battery. The company has made significant strides with the Mojo Refuel.

Out of the Box

The Mojo Refuel is a two-piece case system consisting of the cradle the iPhone plugs into and a bumper that snaps around the cradle and phone to hold everything together. The case itself measures 5.51 inches by 2.48 inches by 0.62 inches and weighs 2.65 ounces. The Refuel is almost a half-inch longer than the PowerSkin, but is slightly thinner and narrower. The Refuel also weighs 0.3 ounces less than the PowerSkin.

Installation is pretty easy. You begin by sliding the phone into the port on the cradle and the bumper ring snaps around the phone. The bumper has a lip that wraps around the phone’s screen, which means it is resting directly on the surface when you lay it screen-down. The bumper is also grooved to help with gripping. Don’t ask me why, but I prefer the fixed docking port that the Refuel uses versus the “dongle” connector of the PowerSkin for iPhone 5.

The bumper ring has a cutout for the mute switch and volume buttons (although I did find the cutout a little too small to easily adjust the volume). There is also a cutout for the headphone jack. iBattz provides a headphone pass-through extender, which is especially a necessity if, like me, you use headphones with an “L” jack that isn’t long enough to plug into the phone through the case. Unlike the PowerSkin extender, the one I got from iBattz delivered crystal-clear sound. There is also a cutout for the phone’s rear-facing camera and flash.

On the bottom of the case is a micro-USB charging port, which you can connect to a third-party USB charger or a computer using the provided micro-USB charge and sync cable. When you plug in the case, both your phone and the case’s battery charge.

The back of the case has a rubberized feel to it, which also makes it easier to hold. At the bottom are four blue lights that indicate the battery level. When the case is plugged in and charging, the lights will flash.

At the bottom of the case, on the same side as the mute switch and volume buttons, there is a battery indicator and on/off button. Pressing it will light up the blue indicator lights, letting you know how much battery life remains. Holding down the button will also turn the battery on or off.

Performance

As I have stated before, I judge a phone battery case based on two overriding considerations: protection and battery life. Having used the Mojo Refuel I was given for the last few weeks, I feel that it’s superior to the PowerSkin in both regards. Even though it is a hair lighter than the PowerSkin, the Mojo Refuel has the appearance of being more rugged. I am in the midst of a clumsy streak, so my iPhone has taken a bit of a beating lately, but the Mojo Refuel has withstood an above-average number of drops for me.

What really sets the Mojo Refuel apart from the PowerSkin, however, is the battery capacity. PowerSkin lowered the battery capacity for its iPhone 5 case to 1,500 mAh, from 2,000 mAh for its iPhone 4 model. With the Mojo Refuel, you get a battery with 2,200 mAh, roughly 47% more than the PowerSkin for iPhone 5. What makes this even more remarkable is that, as I’ve mentioned, the Mojo Refuel weighs less than the PowerSkin for iPhone 5. In my tests, this battery consistently recharged my completely drained iPhone 5 in roughly two hours. A completely drained battery charges in the case in about four hours. And, if you are a true road warrior, the Refuel allows you to swap batteries, something that is impossible with the PowerSkin. To sweeten the pot even more, iBattz throws in an extra 2,220 mAh battery with the case.

Overall

The biggest endorsement I can give to a product is when I continue to use it once I am done reviewing it. I have yet to remove my iPhone 5 from the iBattz Mojo Refuel battery case since the first day I starting using it. It has proven to me it can survive life’s bumps and drops while delivering a thoroughly superior level of battery capacity. With the two batteries you get with the case, you effectively triple the battery life of your iPhone 5. All of these factors make the $89.95 price tag, in my opinion, an absolute steal. If you are looking for a battery case for the iPhone 5, the iBattz Mojo Refuel should be at the top of your list.

Pros

  • Single battery doubles iPhone 5 battery life (two included in package)
  • Excellent phone protection
  • Included headphone pass-through cable works flawlessly
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Somewhat “industrial” look may be a turn-off for some

iBattz Mojo Refuel Removable Battery Case for iPhone 5

$89.95

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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