Case-Mate Fuel Rechargable Battery Pack – Review
Among the good news with the upcoming iPhone 3GS is the additional battery life of anywhere between 10 and 20%. That will be a welcome addition as the iPhone 3G was, at best, problematic with regard to battery life. At the same time, even with 10 to 20% of additional runtime there is no question I’ll be burning through my iPhone’s battery long before the day is through. Yes, I use it that much.
Thankfully, there are a host of extra battery options available and every single one that was designed for the iPhone 3G will continue to work with the iPhone 3GS.
One of the newest is also one of the more unusual. The Fuel from Case-Mate is a formfitting battery pack that, rather than taking a "piggyback" approach, functions as a hip holster while delivering 2300 milliamps of additional power to the device. Let’s take a look.
As the company notes on the box
A road warrior — yeah, we’re talking to you.
You know how sometimes you got to make a plane at 6 AM — which means you had to head to the airport at 4:15 AM — so, you know, things slip.
Things like, oh, say, your phone charger. Now you can charge on the go. Yep, on the go.
Welcome to fuel for iPhone 3G — protective case, carrying solution and backup battery: one.
The first thing I should mention is that the review unit arrived in a huge box.
I couldn’t imagine why something so small would be shipped in a box as large as it was and I thought to myself, "How incredibly wasteful".
It turns out the large box was due to a rather unusual promotional item that was included with the reviewer’s kit of the battery — in 1 gallon gasoline holder to advertise the "Fuel" aspect of the backup battery.
Very smart, a bit humorous, and certainly notable.
The battery itself has a nice design. It’s far lighter than I expected it to be and feels more than sturdy enough.
On the side is a mini USB port for charging the battery.
On the front are two pass-through areas to allow both the speaker and microphone to function when the iPhone is in the case.
In addition there’s a small, unobtrusive button on the left-hand side that turns the battery on in three LED lights in the middle that you know how much charge is available.
On the back of the case is the belt clip. A typical ratchet design it seems sturdy enough to take a good bit of use. This holds both for the part that clips to the belt and for the connection between the belt clip and the battery itself.
Overall the design is excellent, feels exceptionally sturdy and is subtle enough that, to the casual observer, it would simply look like a belt holster. It isn’t — since it provides a huge amount of additional battery life without adding too much additional weight.
Here’s a quick promo video from Case-Mate-
What I like —
Offers an unusual approach to an external battery for the iPhone 3G or 3GS.
For those who use a belt holster it’s a great way to carry your device and ensure you have a full day’s charge at the ready.
What needs improvement —
If you use the Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack you can’t use any additional case for your iPhone 3G or 3GS. You can’t even have a permanent skin on the device since the fit tends to be quite tight.
I tend to not be a huge fan of hip holsters. Then again, you don’t have to put the battery on your hip in order to use it.
The Fuel Battery is available from Case-Mate for an MSRP of $79.95