Ever since Apple’s big switch from the 30-pin to the Lightning connector, the slow trickle of iPhone 5 battery cases continues, with only a handful of accessories available for Apple’s latest smartphone. The PowerSkin for the iPhone 5 ($79.99 list) is the latest entrant, offering the company’s signature, flexible silicone exterior along with the promise of a 70 percent increase in battery life. It features the same battery capacity (1500mAh) as our Editors’ Choice, the Mophie Juice Pack Helium, but it didn’t deliver the same battery life results in our tests, and we had some problems with an insecure fit.
Design and Features
PowerSkin cases are known for pliable silicone construction, and the iPhone 5 version is no different. The case measures 5.51 by 2.52 by 0.63 inches and weighs 2.88 ounces, making it ever-so-slightly larger, thicker, and heavier than the Juice Pack Helium, but comparable to the higher-capacity Juice Pack Air. Unlike Mophie’s two-piece, slide-together cases, the PowerSkin uses a single-piece design, with flexible rubber sides allowing you to slip the iPhone 5 in and out with ease. But I found the fit to be a bit loose, and the silicone lip that holds the phone in place wasn’t quite rigid enough. The iPhone’s edges peeked out at a few points, and the case was a little too easy to remove.
You get cutouts for the camera and lock switch, and rubber covers for the Volume and Power buttons. Around back are four battery status LEDs and a button to activate the flow of juice. There’s a micro USB port along the left edge for charging (but not syncing), and a recessed hole for the 3.5mm headphone jack. Like Mophie, PowerSkin includes a 3.5mm extender that you’ll need to use most headphone pairs with the case. The Lightning port within is actually at the end of a movable cable, which you can extend to plug into your iPhone before sliding it into the case, but I found that it was prone to bunching at the bottom and adding to the insecure fit problem.
Performance and Conclusions
The PowerSkin uses a 1500mAh battery, which is the same capacity as the Juice Pack Helium. In my tests, making a continuous call with LTE enabled with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switched off, the PowerSkin added 4 hours, 28 minutes of talk time to my completely drained AT&T iPhone 5. The Helium added 6 hours, 20 minutes on the same test, while the Juice Pack Air, with its 1700mAh battery, added 6 hours, 57 minutes. The iPhone 5 lasts 8 hours, 40 minutes on its own.
If it were not for the insecure fit issue, the difference in design between the PowerSkin and Juice Pack line would boil down to a matter of taste. Some people might prefer the silicone construction, and it does likely absorb a bit more shock than rigid plastic. That said, the Mophie Juice Pack Helium remains our Editors’ Choice, with greater added battery life and a more streamlined and secure design—all for the same price.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc