Wayne Thorp will speak at the 2015 AAII Investor Conference this fall; go to www.aaii.com/conference for more details.
A snap-on battery case for iPhone 5.
In this column, I have reviewed several cases for the iPhone 4 and 4S, some of which offer protection from life’s bumps and jolts, while others integrate a built-in battery to extend the life of the power-hungry iPhone. In the fall, I upgraded to the iPhone 5 and its new Lightning connector. Due to the new Lightning connector, Apple rendered a number of iPhone accessories obsolete. Since that time, I have been anxiously awaiting iPhone 5 battery cases. Having returned from CES in early January, I’m under the impression that we will be waiting a bit longer, as accessory makers grapple with the new technology. As a stop-gap measure, iBattz released its Mojo Hi5 Powerbank Case for iPhone. As far as I know, it is one of the only battery cases available to consumers for the iPhone 5. I used one that was given to me by the company for a few weeks before receiving a competitor’s case in CES that is not quite ready for market. For those looking to expand the battery life of their iPhone 5, iBattz offers a functional option, although it does have a few flaws.
Out of the Box
The Mojo Hi5 is unique compared to the other battery cases I have reviewed. Unlike others, which have the battery built into the case, the Mojo Hi5 is actually a two-piece solution: a snap-on case for the iPhone itself and a Power Bank that attaches to it. The Mojo Hi5 comes with two snap-on cases, one in glossy white and the other in matte black. The “gothic” iBattz logos that are emblazed on the snap-on case may be a little off-putting for some, but they are covered up when you attach the Power Bank battery. The case itself weighs just over half an ounce. There are cutouts for the rear-facing camera and mute, switch and volume buttons.
The 2500 mAh lithium ion Power Bank battery pack is encased in silver metal and measures nearly 0.75 inches thick and weighs 2.7 ounces. On one side is a power/indicator light, and on the bottom you’ll find both a micro USB port and a full-sized USB port.
In addition to the Power Bank and the two snap-on cases, you also get a three-foot micro USB charge cable, one flexible four-inch micro USB charge cable and a user’s manual.
Installation & Usage
The snap-on shells of the Hi5 system snap around the sides of the iPhone 5, providing coverage of the back, while exposing the top and bottom edges. I err on the side of caution and prefer a good amount of protection, so I wasn’t very impressed with the Hi5 shells and certainly would never use them on a standalone basis, especially considering that battery cases that I have reviewed previously from Mophie and PowerSkin offer much better protection. Ultimately, these shells serve as the “docking station” for the Power Bank battery.
On the back of the shells are three holes: one at the top and two on the bottom. On the Power Bank are corresponding posts that fit into these holes and slide down to lock it in place. Doing so, however, renders the camera useless.
Unlike the other battery cases I’ve looked at before, the Hi5 does not connect directly to the iPhone for charging. The introduction of the Lightning connector forced accessory makers to change their designs to accommodate the new connector and go through Apple’s MFi approval process. iBattz chose to simply attach an external battery to the iPhone and use a connector that runs from the battery to the iPhone. Functional? Yes. Elegant? No. The one upside of this design is that you can use the Power Bank to charge other USB devices, something other battery cases cannot do.
While I can understand iBattz wanting to fill a niche while companies worked to integrate the new Lightning connector into battery cases, they bungled it in the execution. While they provide a flexible micro-USB-to-USB connector, they fail to include a Lightning connector to USB adapter, which Apple sells for around $20. So, out of the box, you can’t even charge your iPhone unless you have the adapter. I, fortunately, was given such an adapter for my review, but the iBattz website states in several locations that such an adapter is not included.
The Power Bank has a 2500 mAh capacity and, according to iBattz, will more than double the battery life of your iPhone 5. My experience backs up that assertion.
If you are an iPhone 5 user looking to extend your battery life, the iBattz Mojo Hi5 Power Bank case is an inelegant solution to the power-hungry iPhone 5. iBattz is supposedly rolling out an integrated battery case, having premiered it at CES in January. However, I have not yet seen a definitive launch date for this or other integrated iPhone 5 battery cases. The Hi5 does more than double your battery capacity and gives you the option of charging other USB devices. However, I wouldn’t look to the Hi5 if you are looking for protection. The snap-on shell will protect the back of your iPhone 5 from scratches, but I shudder to think what would happen if you dropped it. With the promise of new iPhone 5 battery cases coming to market in the coming weeks or months, the Mojo Hi5 Power Bank case is, at best, a stop-gap measure. However, at around $65 from online retailers, as well as an additional $19 for the Lightning-to-USB adapter, the Hi5 is a somewhat pricey stop-gap measure.
$99.90 (Currently $63.90 from Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.