Model: PhoneSuit Elite
Compatible: iPhone 4
PhoneSuit PhoneSuit Elite for iPhone 4
PhoneSuit's PhoneSuit Elite for iPhone 4 ($80) just barely inches past the previously-reviewed PowerSkin and Juice Pack Plus from Mophie as the highest capacity battery case for the iPhone 4 that we've seen. Holding a hefty 2100mAh charge, it certainly adds some bulk to the device -- but that's a given with such a meaty battery on the back. The company claims a 100% iPhone 4 recharge, delivered in less than two hours thanks to full-speed iPhone (1-Amp) output. We were impressed to find that the accessory met the company's claims pretty much to the letter.
Physically, PhoneSuit Elite is comparable to many of the other battery cases currently available: it’s a slider-style case made of black plastic, though a variety of colors are promised for the future. The top cap is removable, and a second is included in case one gets misplaced. There’s no button or port coverage, and the screen sits nearly flush with the edge of the case; both of these factors mean that it’s less protective than it could be. We do appreciate that the company included a sheet of screen protector film to help lower the risk of front damage.
Vents on the bottom edge allow audio to pass through the speaker and microphone. Situated between them is a Micro-USB port for charging via the included cable. Rather than using a combined power button and battery indicator, PhoneSuit separated them out. A toggle on the bottom turns the charging on and off, while a button on the back can be pressed to display up to five LEDs that indicate approximately how much juice is left.
Not only does the battery in PhoneSuit Elite deliver more of a charge than the aforementioned competitors, but it also does so in a thinner package. It is only 0.67” thick, while Juice Pack Plus is slightly larger at 0.7” and PowerSkin is a full tenth of an inch thicker. Perhaps not surprisingly, PhoneSuit Elite is a bit heavier than Mophie’s option, though still lighter than PowerSkin. Considering what’s inside, it doesn’t feel anywhere as huge as it could have.
We tested the battery under standard conditions: a powered-on, 3G/Wi-Fi-connected iPhone 4 with the screen turned off, no calls coming in, and no audio playing. The battery on our test iPhone 4 device was fully depleted. In just over the promised two hours—two hours and three minutes, to be exact—the iPhone 4 was at a 100% charge and the battery was still going. This is the first battery case we’ve come across for the current-generation iPhone that is able to accomplish such a feat with a single integrated power pack. Both PowerSkin and Juice Pack Plus came in right around 90%. As there’s only 100mAh of stated difference between the batteries, it seems that some under-the-hood engineering differences made a pretty significant impact on the overall results.
PhoneSuit Elite has pretty much everything going for it when compared to its closest contenders. Not only is the price competitive—$20 less than Juice Pack Plus, even—but it’s thinner, is similar enough in weight, and in what is arguably the most important metric, provides the greatest charge. We offered general recommendations on both PowerSkin and Juice Pack Plus when we reviewed them. With its more impressive performance for the price, we highly recommend PhoneSuit Elite: a battery case that offers more than a complete iPhone 4 charge is certainly a valuable accessory, and the sort of option we’d prefer to carry when we’re traveling.