Review: Dog & Bone Backbone Wireless Charging Case + Pad, Battery for iPhone 5/5s
Far from the first wireless charging case combination we've seen, Dog & Bone's Backbone Wireless Charging Case + Pad ($140) stands out mostly because of its case. Instead of a plain, plastic protector, this one is more like a CandyShell, with ruggedized rubber components. The case comes with a charging module that slides into the back, allowing the iPhone to charge on the included Qi pad. An optional Backbone Battery ($50) can be swapped in place of the charging module, offering a relatively low 900mAh of power. Both packages come with Micro-USB charging cables, while the case and pad combo also includes a headphone extender and screen protector film.
Here’s how the system works: you start by snapping the iPhone into the case, which has a 3” tall, 1.5” wide hole at the bottom. Offered in black with one of five accent colors, the case is polycarbonate plastic at its core, with surrounding rubber. Button protection is spot-on, with the Sleep/Wake and volume controls offering pleasant clicks when you press them. A raised ridge around the perimeter and a pattern on the back add some character and a little bit of grip.
To accommodate the swappable modules, Backbone is a little bit taller than a standard case, measuring 5.4” tall. It’s not too big, though, and feels totally fine in the hand or a pocket. When you slide the standard charging module into place, it fits flush with the rest of the case in all dimensions, and matches the color scheme. It’s packed with an MFi Lightning plug inside, and a Micro-USB port on the bottom, which allows you to charge the iPhone even when the Qi pad isn’t handy.
But the idea is to use the pad most of the time. Made of plastic, its dimensions are the same as those of the case. There’s a Micro-USB port on the underside, and a small ridge around the perimeter that holds the phone in place. When you toss the handset on the pad, it’ll start charging, but only if it’s oriented the right way. The top of the phone must be facing the end of the pad with the cable sticking out, otherwise it won’t charge. That’s slightly inconvenient, but should be easy to get used to.
One of the cooler aspects of the system is the modularity. The Backbone Battery is currently available, adding a 0.2” bump to the back of the case. Inside is a pretty meager 900mAh cell, which is actually the smallest battery we’ve ever tested with an iPhone 5. In our tests, it was able to provide a 54 percent charge to a fully depleted handset, ten percent more than we’d expected based on past results. It’s not a great fuel to dollar ratio, but not a bad result for the size.
Dog & Bone deserves some acclaim for Backbone’s comprehensive charging system design: we were impressed by the case, the pad, and the ability to swap in different components. But the price is an issue. Consider Duracell’s PowerCase and PowerMat system, which comes with the case, a wireless charging pad, and a 2000mAh battery, all for $120, or $20 less than the core system here. While they’re not absolutely perfect correlates, they’re close enough to show how Dog & Bone has priced its products a bit too high. Backbone earns our general recommendation, but if the price comes down, it may be worthy of additional consideration.