The iPhone 4S is a great product with tons of awesome features. However, as with most electronics out there, power longevity is its Achilles heel. Battery cases are a popular option for those who wish to extend their iPhone battery life without carrying around a separate battery pack. Improving upon the original OffGRID, the OffGRID Pro adds two removable batteries. But are the extra batteries enough?
- Unleash 1600mAh charging capabilities per battery included
- Rechargeable and interchangeable batteries to keep your iPhone 4/4S fully charged
- Standard protection and the highest quality materials guard and charge your iPhone 4/4S
- Four blue LED indicator lights to indicate your backup battery life
The OffGRID Pro comes in a tidy little box with a flap to display the contents and features of the product. The box contains the two part case (more on this later), two batteries, a charging crib, a 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter and a microUSB cable. So you’re actually getting some good value for the price you pay.
Design and Build Quality
The OffGRID Pro is touted as a slim battery case and this is actually pretty true (it’s about as thick as one and a half iPhone 4’s but the “half” is curved). There are probably some standard cases without the battery pack that are this thick. Installation of the OffGRID Pro is simple - pull apart the case into the bumper and back, insert a battery pack into the slot, slide the phone into the back and secure it on the 30 pin dock, and install the bumper portion of the case around the phone.
The headphone jack cutout is rather small so if you do have any issues fitting your plug, Incipio includes an adapter for your convenience. Although the adapter is a thoughtful addition, the one included is pretty unreliable, sometimes only playing music out of one channel, pausing the music, and even activating Voice Control/Siri.
Adjacent to the headphone jack are a cutout for the secondary noise cancellation mic and a power button that retains tactility.
The same goes for the left side - a cutout for the mute switch and a rocker for the still tactile volume buttons.
The bottom has a deep cutout for the speaker on the right and microUSB charging port on the left. A little indent in the center edge makes the bumper easier to pry off (put one fingernail in this, use another fingernail to drag around the edge. The right side is featureless as expected and as it should.
On the front, below the home button are four blue indicator lights, a small microphone pinhole on the left, and an embedded power button on the very right. Holding this for two seconds or so will initiate charging. It’s worth noting that the OffGRID Pro does not have a “lay on the table” edge design. While we would’ve preferred the extra protection, this choice allows the use of thick glass screen protectors.
On the back of the case are individual cutouts for the camera and flash, while a larger cutout encompasses both. Camera performance was not affected in any way in our testing.
One of the common woes with phone battery cases is the added bulk. The case is thin but it adds just the right amount of thickness and curvature to make the iPhone comfortable to hold. In fact, the OffGRID Pro conforms perfectly to the hand and makes the iPhone more ergonomic to hold than ever. We didn’t have any issues slotting the phone in our jeans pocket and while we definitely felt the extra bulk, it wasn’t unbearable by any means. The main trouble we had in using the OffGRID Pro was the added weight. The thickness didn’t both us much in comparison to the weight that the case and battery put on. The extra heft makes the phone more uncomfortable to hold and possibly even more prone to drops.
The battery charges with the phone so the ideal use case would be to drain your phone, turn on the battery pack, and change both when your phone is once again drained. To charge the phone and case, you plug the included microUSB cable into your current Apple charger and the case. If you want to charge the other battery pack without having to swap it in the case, Incipio includes a charging crib that also uses microUSB.
Actually using the case to charge your phone is not quite as pleasant as we would have hoped, given that the 1600 mAh battery is actually larger than the iPhone’s. As expected, the case does get very hot as it charges. But the real pain is the sacrifice in charge due to the thinner form factor of the case. First up was our iPhone 4, with all radios off but Wi-Fi, screen at a dim 24% brightness, and pulling in the occasional push notification. As soon as the battery hit 20% we switched on our fully charged OffGRID Pro. An hour and a half later we checked back to find the battery case depleted and off with the iPhone at 86%, which means it only boosted our phone by 66%. On our data and Wi-Fi enabled iPhone 4S, we ran from 5% to 67%, which makes 62% in charge. While it’s true that you’ll be able to achieve a full charge by swapping in the extra battery, chances are you’re not carrying that extra battery everywhere and it’s also considered bad battery maintainence to continue charging once it’s stopped charging at half. The question you’ll be asking is whether it’s actually worth it to have the extra bulk on all the time just for an addition 60% boost in emergencies. If you don’t mind the bulk, it can definitely come in handy when you’re out and can’t get ahold of a charger. If you carry a backpack or don’t mind carrying a battery pack with you, that might be the smarter purchase for a full charge(s) for multiple gadgets even (especially since you’ll be carrying around the spare OffGRID battery cell to make a full charge anyways).
While the Incipio OffGRID Pro has many laudable attributes - it’s relatively slim and very well designed - we just can’t get past the fact that it’ll only juice up your phone about 60% for the heft it adds. With the two removable batteries, the OffGRID Pro is heaps better than the standard OffGRID. We’re going to leave the OffGRID Pro with a “recommended” rating but it’s really more of a limited recommendation. Don’t get us wrong though; we definitely enjoyed using the OffGRID Pro as a slim battery case. However, you’re gong to have to ask yourself whether the extra bulk is justified by the emergency 60% of power you get on the single battery and if you’d be willing to carry an battery cell with you to achieve a full charge.
- Slimmer than most battery cases
- Comfortable to hold
- Comes with extra battery, accessories
- Disappointing battery performance
- No edge protection
Where to buy
Incipio — MSRP: $99.99