Review: Dexim BluePack S3 for iPhone/iPod
Batteries for the iPod and iPhone come in several flavors: device-specific backpacks that fit onto the backs of one certain model, multi-device attachments that hang off the bottoms of several models, and device-agnostic cells that are connected to virtually any iPod or iPhone via a cable. Dexim has tried the second model before with two batteries, the $50 Smart Backup Battery Pack and the $70 1800 Smart Backup Battery with Laser Pointer & LED Flashlight, both sold in the U.S. by RichardSolo. Now Dexim is back with a new version, the BluePack S3 ($70), and it's a smarter buy than either of the preceding ones.
Like the earlier “Smart” packs, BluePack S3 is a rounded-off, sturdy metal box with plastic edges, integrated power lights, and a battery inside. But unlike these earlier batteries, which had Dock Connectors integrated into their tops and therefore extended iPods and iPhones into oversized wands, BluePack S3 follows Kensington’s and Just Mobile’s wiser model of connecting your device to the battery via a USB-to-Dock Connector cable. Novel here is Dexim’s inclusion of its own mini iPod- and iPhone cable, plus micro USB and mini USB cables, a dual-USB wall power adapter, and a carrying bag. Without having any other cables besides these on hand, you can connect the iPod, iPhone, or common mini-USB devices to BluePack S3, and benefit from fast dual-USB wall recharging for the battery—or two devices—besides.
Using BluePack S3 is extremely easy: when you want to recharge it, you connect it to the wall charger, and when you want to recharge your iPod or iPhone, you connect it with the cable to the battery. There’s no power switch to worry about; the only button is the one that activates the three bright blue power LEDs to tell you how much juice the battery has. Like the earlier 1800 Smart Backup Battery, Dexim has included an integrated bright LED light for whatever reason; you power it on by holding down the power LED button until it activates, and deactivate it by holding the button down another time.
Every time Dexim has released a new battery, the capacity has gone up for the dollar: the first one had 1200mAh—a little less than a full iPhone battery recharge—while the second had 1800mAh, and the new one has 2600mAh. That’s almost enough for two full recharges of the original iPhone, and under most circumstances, it’s enough to completely recharge the iPhone 3G twice. A first- or second-generation iPod touch can recharge around two and a half times, and other iPods, including iPod nanos and iPod classics, can be restored between three and six times, depending on the model, and how low the device’s starting battery level is; a fully-discharged iPod or iPhone will drain the BluePack S3 faster when it recharges than a partially filled one.
Our testing of BluePack S3 didn’t yield any major surprises: we were able to recharge three completely discharged iPods, including a 160GB iPod classic and two fourth-generation iPod nanos, before the juice ran too low to charge a fourth device. There was only one disappointment of sorts, attributable to the battery’s lack of a power switch: it continues to serve as a trickle charger for the connected device once it’s done charging, running itself down sip by sip in the process. In so doing, it leaves itself unable to serve as an LED light once it’s done recharging your device, assuming that you don’t disconnect it after the charge finishes.
Ultimately, the choice between various black metal-enclosed iPod- and iPhone-agnostic USB batteries comes down as much to build quality and capacity per dollar as anything else, and BluePack S3 strikes us as a good buy for the price. While you can get Just Mobile’s Gum and Gum Pro batteries for less, and the Pro version offers significantly more capacity, neither of these comes with the wall charger, cables, or carrying case items that Dexim includes. If you’re looking for a bundle with a good battery, charger, and cables, BluePack S3 is a strong pick; bargain hunters will find the two Gum packs to deliver more juice and fewer frills for the buck.