There is no difficulty in finding battery cases for iOS devices these days. They’re everywhere. They flood the accessory pages of eBay and Amazon. They are available at every big box electronics retailer. I’ve even seen them at my local drug store. It took a little while for iPhone 5 models to show up thanks to Apple’s delays in licensing its new Lightning Connector, but even they are widely available now.
The trick isn’t finding one, but rather finding one that isn’t a piece of junk or a counterfeit that will melt your phone. Buyer beware definitely applies here, as trying to save a few bucks, even on a recognizable name brand, can get you into trouble. My nephew and I found this out a year ago, as we both got burned with devices that turned out to be very faithfully reproduced counterfeits. Even if you don’t get a fake, many of the cheaper, no-name models out there are of suspect quality and either won’t last long, or can even damage your iPhone.
In my search for a reputable battery case brand other than Mophie, I found the iBattz Hi5 Power Bank Case for the iPhone 5 late last year. I came away impressed in my review, considering that they were having to work around the limitation of the Lightning Connector not being available yet. They beat with Mophie to market with an iPhone 5 battery case that had tradeoffs, but still worked well, looked good, and came at a reasonable price of $59.95. However, while I liked the Hi5, I came away wanting to see what iBattz would come up with when they could make a case with an integrated Lightning Connector.
Recently, a box full of new goodies for the iPhone 5 from iBattz arrived on my doorstep, and I was happy to see that they are Apple MFI certified, and their new models have integrated Lightning Connectors. After looking these new products over, I have to say that I continue to be impressed with what iBattz is doing. They are making quality products that are a bit cheaper than the premium offerings from Mophie, but also offer more powerful batteries. Even better than that, the batteries in these iBattz cases are replaceable. Let’s take a closer look at what iBattz’s new Mojo Refuel line brings to the table.
There are actually three different variations of the iBattz Mojo Refuel Case. All of them have the same basic case shell with the same replaceable battery packs, but vary in the accessories and covers that they come with. Before we look at the different packages, let’s take a closer look at the battery that they all have in common.
It is an I9300 2200 mAh battery, which is the same one found in the popular Samsung Galaxy S III. This was a very shrewd choice, insuring that replacements are easy to find and that charging accessories will be readily available. iBattz themselves offers direct replacements for their versions of the battery for $19.95. All of this means that your Mojo Refuel will never become a used up shell with a dead battery.
As for the three different retail versions of the Mojo Refuel, iBattz has a lower cost model of the product that is available exclusively at Sam’s Club for $69.95. This package has one removable red bumper that covers the iPhone 5, 1 2200 mAh battery pack, a microUSB charging cable, and a headphone extension cable.
This particular offering is cheaper than all of Mophie’s iPhone 5 models, but still offers a higher battery capacity than even the top level Juice Pack Plus, which retails for $119.95. That’s pretty impressive. To be fair, Mophie does make a somewhat more polished product overall, that feels a bit more substantial. But, you pay quite a bit extra for that. What iBattz is doing here is filling a very important space in the market. They are doing a superb job of providing a lower cost alternative that is still worlds above the piece of junk knock offs that I opened up this review talking about. The Mojo Refuel is a very nice case that is definitely worth the asking price.
As for the battery performance, it will fully charge an iPhone 5 and hold it at 100% for a while after, when the phone is in constant use. That, or you can get a solid charge and a half with the iPhone at rest or powered off. Even with this high capacity battery in a case that provides plenty of protection, the Mojo Refuel still feels good in the hand and isn’t too heavy.
I have to hand it to iBattz on the marketing of this SKU, as well. It was a good idea to put this model in a high visibility spot like the popular and easy to find Sam’s Club. This should give them some visibility and get them in front of shoppers that would typically only see Mophie’s offerings on the retail shelf. If they can leverage this move to get themselves into the even larger Walmart chain in the future, then we’re really talking.
iBattz has a second Mojo Refuel package that can be purchased directly from them or from Amazon that kicks things up a notch, and in my opinion, is an even better value. This version, which retails for $89.95, has the same items as the less expensive Sam’s Club exclusive, but also includes a silver bumper, and an additional 22oo mAh battery. So, for $20 extra you get a little cosmetic variety and double the battery life.
The only drawback that I found with this set is that it is cumbersome to charge the second battery. They take 4 hours to fully recharge, so swapping them around in the case is time-consuming and cumbersome. However, since this is a popular Samsung removable battery design, there is no shortage of inexpensive third party chargers available. If you get this dual battery package, be sure to pick one up. You won’t regret it.
Despite the annoyance of charging the second battery without an extra accessory, this package is quite impressive. 4400 mAh basically allows you to do anything that you want to with your iPhone 5 without having to worry about charging. Want to watch videos for hours? Play games on a long car trip? Use the GPS on a long run or bike ride? No problem. You have to work really hard to kill your phone with 5840 total mAh to play with.
The last version of the iBattz Mojo Refuel fills a niche that Mophie has so far abandoned with the iPhone 5. The Mojo Refuel Armor, which retails for $99.95 from iBattz and Amazon, brings a ruggedized exterior cover reminiscent of the Otterbox to the same battery pack, offering additional protection for those who need it. This version comes also comes with 2 22oomAh battery packs, making it an excellent value.
The case exterior isn’t quite at heavy duty as a standard Otterbox, but should be enough to meet the needs of most users. The front of the iPhone is covered by a grey plastic shell that includes a built-in screen protector. There are also flaps to cover the Home button, charging port, headphone jack, and mute switch. However, the speakers and camera have completely open cutouts, as well as the battery level meter on the back of the case. Also, the back of the cover is just a thick rubbery covering that goes over the soft-touch plastic back of the battery pack. Still, this is more than enough protection for the majority of use cases.
For buyers who purchase one of the standard Mojo Refuel models, but decide they would like to add the extra protection of the Armor, iBattz sells the plastic shell and cover as a separate accessory for $19.95. I love the fact that iBattz is willing to do this. Most manufacturers wouldn’t think twice about hitting their customers up for an extra $100 to get that feature. Kudos for such a consumer friendly move.
For those who do require more protection than the Armor offers, iBattz is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to gauge interest in a completely waterproof Mojo case for the iPhone 5. The Mojo Refuel Aqua case that they propose will retail for $129.95, but is going for $105 during this Kickstarter campaign. It is supposed to be waterproof to a depth of 3 meters, or 9.842 feet, so that seems to be a very reasonable price.
Also, in a creative move, iBattz is offering $15 discounts on the previously discussed Mojo Refuel models, as well as discounts on several of their other accessories, if you back this Kickstarter. Bear in mind that the Kickstarter has to be funded, and you will have to wait until September for delivery to get these prices. However, if you don’t need the case that you choose right now, or if you are looking for a gift for an iPhone 5 owner, this could be a great way to save a few dollars.
After getting up close and personal with the Mojo Refuel and Mojo Refuel Armor for a couple of weeks, I am very impressed with what I have seen. In an accessory category that has largely come to be dominated by one brand, iBattz is establishing themselves as a worthy competitor. Their prices are very reasonable, and the additional battery life that you get at any of their price points is a big positive. While these cases certainly aren’t perfect, they are definitely high quality products that leave the cheap knockoffs in the dust. All three Mojo Refuel models are an excellent value, and are definitely worth your consideration if you are in the market for a battery case for your iPhone 5.
The Mojo Refuel with one bumper and battery pack is available exclusive at Sam’s Club brick and mortar stores for $69.95.
The iBattz Mojo Refuel and Mojo Refuel Armor were provided by iBattz for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.