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Review: Incase Power Slider for iPhone 3G

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Well, it’s happening. Looks like I am making a slow migration from a Blackberry to an iPhone 3G. Yeah, and a few months before whatever new hotness Apple will release hits the mainstream. Oh well, I’m usually fashionably late. At any rate, one of my big gripes about the iPhone 3G is the abysmal battery life, so I picked up an Incase Power Slider case for the iPhone. This is a combo unit - a case AND an additional battery for the iPhone.

Let’s start with the specs. From the manufacturer’s website:

  • Rechargeable 1330 mAh 4.2V lithium-ion polymer battery
  • Capacity is approximately 120% of the iPhone 3G’s internal battery
  • Power circuitry provides constant charge to iPhone 3G’s internal battery
  • 5 light LED battery status indicator with Sync status
  • Charge and sync iPhone 3G without removing it from the case (using provided USB-to-MiniUSB cable)
  • Compatible with USB ports providing 5V at 1A output
  • “Works with iPhone” certified by Apple

Additional runtime that the Power Slider may provide:

  • Standby time: up to 330 hours
  • Audio playback: up to 26 hours
  • Talk time: up to 5 hours on 3G, 10 hours on EDGE
  • Video playback: up to 7 hours
  • Internet use: up to 5 hours on 3G, 6 hours on Wi-fi

The specs sound good - anything that’d double the battery life of the iPhone 3G would wind up removing one of the major inconveniences about the platform. Something that doubles the battery life has GOT to add bulk to the phone, though, doesn’t it? Well, it does. Let’s see just how much…

Here we have my phone in the Power Slider. Yeah, ignore the obviously jailbroken theme and the skin from decalgirl.com . The Power Slider has a really nice “soft-touch” rubberized feel to it that not only would cushion the phone during a drop, but it adds some grip and traction to the iPhone’s normally glossy smooth surface and could possibly prevent a drop. If you look below the home button you can see that the Power Slider adds a little length to the bottom of the phone, but not much.

InCase Power Slider

If we compare the Power Slider-docked phone with a bare iPhone, you can see exactly how much bulk the case adds to the phone. It’s just about double the thickness. Not the thing for a night out if you’re in dress slacks (yes, I own some, I just never wear them, so nyah) and wanna drop it in a pocket. If you’re out and about at the office or traveling though, the bulk really isn’t TOO bad to deal with.

Comparing Power Slider

In this shot, I placed the bare iPhone atop the Power Slider case. You can see exactly how much width the case adds (almost none) and how much it adds at the bottom (a little bit).

Bare iPhone atop Power Slider

The shot below shows the back of the Power Slider. The seam is where the top and bottom halves of the case meet. There are five LEDs on the back of the bottom half of the case that indicate battery life when the little button is depressed. The fifth LED is surrounded by two circular arrows and also represents the mode of the case. If the button is depressed for several seconds, the case will go into “sync mode”, and the fifth LED will blink. If the phone is plugged into a machine running iTunes using the supplied USB to MiniUSB cable, the phone can be sync’d to iTunes without pulling it out of the case. Actually, any cable like that works, actually, including Blackberry sync cables. That’s nice as I have a fair amount of that type of cable.

Back of the Power Slider

Here is a shot of the power Slider disassembled into its two pieces. The piece on the left has all the electronics, battery, and the miniUSB port. The right piece simply protects the other half of the phone.

Power Slider in pieces

So in the immortal words of Sean Connery on Celebrity Jeopardy, “Gussy it up however you want, Trebek. What matters is does it work? Will it really mighty my penis, man? Because I’ve ordered devices like that before - wasted a pretty penny, I don’t mind telling you. And if The Penis Mightier works, I’ll order a dozen!” To which I reply, “It’s not a Penis Mightier, Mr. Connery. There’s no such thing!”

But I digress. What I wanted to say before channeling SNL was “Does the Power Slider really work?” Well, Penny, yes. Yes it does. My usage patterns make it really tough to actually give you quantitative data in terms of how many more minutes of battery life I got, but when I wasn’t using the Power Slider the iPhone 3G would typically puke and give low battery warnings about 3pm every day. With it wrapped lovingly in the Power Slider’s rubbery embrace the Power Slider runs out of juice about 4pm, but the iPhone internal battery keeps my 3G surfing and communications going well through the commute home and into the night. The build quality of the Power Slider is excellent as well - the fit is nice and tight, and the seams in the case fit very well.

Verdict: If you don’t mind having a chubby (iPhone), and need to spend extended time away from a source of power, get the Power Slider. It takes the iPhone from the land of “neat toy” into “usable daily communications device”.

Grade: B+

Price: Currently $79.95 from the Apple Store and other places.