This has been a crazy summer, and I’ve been pretty negligent about posting to this site. Sorry about that. To play catch up, I’ll be unloading a bunch of a “mini reviews” over the next few days. First up — The Platinum Power Case for iPhone 5 and 5s.
My wife’s iPhone 5 has a habit of dying on her at the worst possible time (like when her car has been towed). So I went to Best Buy to find a “power case” for her — i.e. a case with a built-in reserve battery. I was going to get a Mophie juice pack, which seems to have cornered the market on such things, but then I saw a Platinum-branded power case — a “Best Buy Exclusive” — that cost considerably less than the equivalent Mophie. The Platinum Power Case offers a 2100 mAh battery for $70. To get a Mophie with that sized battery, you’d have to spend well over $100 (closer to $120, actually, at the moment). That’s a pretty big price difference, so I figured we’d give the Platinum power case a shot.
The case has a simple one-piece design, allowing your iPhone to be easily slid in-and-out (when you need it to — otherwise, the phone stays in solidly). There’s an indicator on the rear of the case that tells you how much power is left in the reserve battery. And there’s a switch. What does the switch do? Basically, the power case works like this: 1) Slide your phone in. 2) Use your phone like normal. 3) When your phone’s internal battery gets in the red, you slip the switch, turning the case on, which will start recharging your phone’s internal battery. Like the gas engine in a Chevy Volt, the power generated the case doesn’t actually run your phone, it just recharges the battery that still does all the work.
Note: According to the Platinum documentation, they recommend re-charging your phone back up to 80% and then stopping, as recharging your phone past 80% takes more power than it’s worth. Not sure if that’s a limitation shared by its more expensive competition.
Anyways, the case works exactly as advertised. The company says that a 2100 mAh battery should give your iPhone an additional 8 hours of talk-time, but we never tested the case to its limits. I just let my wife use it as needed, and she found it to be a convenient — if bulky — addition to her phone.
Other than its size, there is one more potential limitation to the case. The shell engulfs your phone’s built-in headphone jack. If you want to use your headphones, you probably need to use the mini-extension cable that comes with the case (see photo below).
That’s not a deal breaker, so we kept it, right? Saved the money over the Mophie? Nope. Because its size, my wife always kept the phone in her purse. Twice in one week, she pulled her phone out of her purse only to find that the case had gotten switched on by accident — powering her phone when it didn’t need any juice, and leaving her without reserve power when she actually needed it. That was a deal breaker. Back to Best Buy it went.
We wound up getting a Mophie Juice Pack Helium for ten dollars more. The battery isn’t as big — only 1500 mAh — but that’s still a enough reserve power for my wife (and probably most people). The Helium is also much slimmer. The slender profile alone is worth the slightly higher price over the Platinum (if you don’t really need the extra-extra power). If I needed a power case for myself, the Helium is the one I would get. (But I don’t.)