Generic, phone-sized mobile power banks are commonplace these days, but its only really Mophie that’s had any success on the phone-case-with-built-in-battery front. Now a South African contender, Booster, has stepped into the ring with its range of solutions for the the power-strapped.
At time of writing Booster sells three products: a universal 6000mAh battery pack that connects to phones or tablets via USB (R500), an 1800mAh battery case for the iPhone 4/4S (R340) and a 2400mAh battery case for the iPhone 5/5S/5C (R450).
We reviewed the model for iPhone 5 and found it ticked most of the boxes we’d expect from a battery charging pack. It’s fairly lightweight at 68g, and though it makes an iPhone far more cumbersome and bulky, that’s the price you pay for strapping a secondary battery to your handset.
The inclusion of LED indicators to let you know (roughly) how much charge the case has is welcome, but like its rivals the Booster case charges pretty slowly, and charges the phone in it equally slowly. You’re looking at around four hours to fully charge the case, and, annoyingly, once it’s fully charged it doesn’t charge the phone in it.
Instead, you have to either charge the phone using the case, which brings you back to the initial problem of how long recharging the case takes, or remove the phone and charge it separately, which defeats the object of an always-attached case.
This may have to do with the input and output specifications of DC5V and 0.5A. We found it took around four hours for the case to charge an iPhone 5S, and despite the reported 2400mAh capacity of the case, this only equated to around a 70% charge of the phone.
We like the inclusion of a kickstand at the top of the rear of the Booster case, but we don’t like it’s placement. Because it’s on one of the edges the slightest instability or one-handed interaction with the phone sees it wind up flat on its back. We also didn’t much care for the included wrap-around front cover, but then, we seldom care for folio-style phone covers. Also, the cover would be far more useful if it included a slot for the kickstand, but it doesn’t, so we’d rather it was an optional extra or somehow removable.
Lastly, like the offerings from rival Mophie, Booster’s battery case has to be charged using a microUSB cable despite the device it powers using a Lightning cable. It’s downright perverse.
As much as we like the idea of battery cases their dimensions and sluggish throughput have always made us reach for standalone battery packs instead. Booster’s offering is no different — we wouldn’t mind having it in a bag in case of emergency, but we wouldn’t want our mobile phones to live in one full-time.