Review: Incipio offGRID Pro Battery Case for iPhone 5
Announced in January, Incipio's long-awaited iPhone 5 version of offGRID Pro ($100) has finally arrived 11 months later for testing. Based upon the excellent iPhone 4/4S version of offGRID Pro, this jet black battery case delivers unparalleled power for the price point -- 4000mAh spread across two included 2000mAh rechargeable batteries that can be swapped on the road as needed, keeping the size of the case highly competitive with rival options. Better yet, Incipio now includes a dual battery charger in the package, enabling you to not only refuel both of the cells at once, but also use the charger as a 4000mAh USB battery for other devices. Screen film, a headphone port adapter, a micro-USB cable, and application tools are also included in the package. Oddly, the case is not yet certified for the iPhone 5s, although the two handsets share the same physical dimensions. As such, this review was conducted with an iPhone 5, and we'll revisit it if there's any updated information regarding the 5s.
From the outside, offGRID Pro is identical to offGRID; they’re literally indistinguishable from one another. This means the case has a hard plastic body, with a pill-shaped dimple running across the rear camera opening, and a matching bumper attachment with integrated button protection. It’s taller than the bare iPhone, with a glossy chin underneath the Home Button, porting sound through to the front and housing a power button with four battery indicator lights. To insert the handset, you pry off the plastic frame, fit the iPhone onto the Lightning plug, and then snap it all back into place. The battery rests underneath it, and can easily be swapped in and out.
Compared to the original offGRID Pro’s battery charger, this one is physically larger, but also has more features. Instead of being able to hold only one battery, it can now carry both at once, stacked on top of each other. This works pretty well, although there’s no easier way to remove the lower battery than smacking the charger to force it out. You can charge either one or both batteries using the included micro-USB cable, or alternatively, use the charger to refuel another device using a self-provided cord, at a 1-Amp rate. There’s a power/battery indicator button on the pack, but the lights above it aren’t totally clear in displaying the remaining charge; you can see separate lights for each battery go solid when they’re half or completely full.
We tested batteries both in the offGRID Pro case with an iPhone 5 and in the charging pack with a first-generation iPad mini. Incipio’s packaging claims an 80% recharge of an iPhone 5 per battery, while our previous test results suggested an average of about 95% for that size cell. offGRID Pro beat both numbers, delivering a 116% charge on its 2000mAh cell, which can be extrapolated to 232% across the two batteries. iOS 7-related recharging improvements are likely responsible for part of the superior performance. As for with the iPad mini, we saw a 31% recharge rate for one battery, doubling to 62% for two batteries, which is right on target for a 4000mAh cell.
Our rating of the first offGRID for iPhone 5/5s was significantly lowered due to a high-pitched squealing sound our original review unit made; a subsequent replacement was better. Thankfully, there were no unexpected performance hiccups in the Pro version, which worked just as we hoped it would. A single 2000mAh cell provides a high level of charge on its own, and throwing in a second is icing on the cake. That’s before even considering the ease of use, slim design, or external charger. While the original iPhone 4/4S offGRID Pro was close to perfect for the price, this one nails it, and earns our flat A rating. Apart from more color options, we can’t think of anything we’d add to improve the value or performance of an iPhone 5 battery case—offGRID Pro is certainly the one to get.