Review: Duracell PowerSnap Kit for iPhone 5
As part of its PowerMat wireless charging system, Duracell has released the PowerSnap Kit for iPhone 5 ($100). The kit is actually composed of two products that are also sold separately: the Yves Behar-designed AccessCase, which goes for $50, and SnapBattery, a $60 accessory. AccessCase is a shell-style case that fits around the iPhone, and connects to its Lightning port, allowing for inductive wireless charging using a PowerMat -- another component that must be purchased separately. SnapBattery is a removable 1950mAh backup battery pack that snaps onto the back of AccessCase when you need it. The package is available in both black and white.
If it wasn’t for the PowerMat functionality, PowerSnap Kit wouldn’t stand out much from other battery cases. AccessCase’s standalone value comes from the fact that it can be used for wireless charging, as opposed to its aesthetics or overall level of protection. Made of hard plastic, it resembles most other shell cases. This means that the top edge is totally exposed, and there’s a single opening for access to the side switch and volume buttons. The back and bottom are a bit different, though: there’s a longer-than-average opening for the camera and flash along the top, and two metal contacts at the bottom. Right in the center is a small circle with the PowerMat logo—the contact point when connecting to the charging pad.
AccessCase’s bottom actually requires you to pop off the lower fifth of the plastic housing for iPhone installation. It’s accented by a copper-colored Lightning plug housing, which connects the iPhone to the case. Instead of solid plastic between the device and case, there’s actually a significant gap, which is rather strange. It eliminates the need to reroute the audio, which can sometimes create echoes and impact sound quality, although headphone plugs must be passed through a somewhat small opening in the bottom of the cap. We found that the fit wasn’t quite perfect at the bottom, but it’s close enough to complete the electronic connection.
SnapBattery is simply designed. The material and color match the AccessCase shell, including a copper door that protects a Micro-USB port, which can be used as an alternative form of charging. A cable is included for wired power. Other than the power button, battery indicator lights, and PowerMat charging circle—the latter capable of recharging the battery on its own when used with a PowerMat—it’s flat. To connect SnapBattery to AccessCase, you simply line it up with with the back of the case, and push upwards. Small plastic clips slide into place, holding the parts together as one unit. Once assembled, the case is 0.74” thick, and weighs just over four ounces.
In our battery tests, PowerSnap Kit outperformed our expectations, but fell just shy of Duracell’s claims. It was able to provide a 95% charge to a fully depleted iPhone 5, which is about 7% better than the average for the capacity, but lower than the “2x” listing on the package. That said, a 95% gain is quite a reasonable number given the battery’s capacity. There’s only one minor downside: when charging on PowerMat, SnapBattery emits a quiet, high-pitched sound.
If you’ve already bought into Duracell’s PowerMat system, or plan to do so, PowerSnap Kit is a good choice. As a battery case, it performs well for the price, isn’t limited to just wireless charging, and can be slimmed down when more power isn’t needed. Without any additional accessories, it compares well with standalone battery cases sold at the same $100 price point, and earns bonus points for the wireless charging option—although you’ll need to take into account the additional minimum $40 investment required for a charging pad. If you’re willing to buy a PowerMat, PowerSnap Kit is a good option to go along with it, and worthy of our strong general recommendation. However, users who have no interest in wireless charging will be able to find quite a few battery cases with additional protection at the same or lower prices.