Review: Prong PocketPlug iPhone 5 Case + Charger
Prong's PocketPlug iPhone 5 Case + Charger ($70) comes in a familiar form factor, but offers functionality we've never before seen in an iPhone case. Upon first inspection, it'd be easy to confuse the accessory with a battery case, as it has the same slider-style installation, overall body shape and size, and Lightning connector found in many battery case designs. But there's no battery to be found here; instead, fold-out prongs on the back allow the case to connect to an outlet for direct charging, with the need for an additional adapter or cable. Prong does include a micro-USB cable for times when an outlet isn't available, however, as well as a headphone adapter.
Launching in black—a white version is listed as shipping in September 2013—PocketPlug is a 0.7-inch thick plastic case. Much like with Lenmar’s Meridian and other cases, a cap at the top comes off to insert and remove the phone. We found the fit to be particularly tight, but not so much that we were worried about PocketPlug doing any damage to the iPhone; it was just more difficult to slide in and out than we’re used to. Once it’s inside, the buttons are left exposed, the screen sits recessed behind a protective lip, and the headphone port is deeply recessed in the plastic. Audio is piped out through openings on the front of the case, with music playback slightly boosted in amplitude and no noticeable differences in microphone voice quality. Ridges on either side of the case add some grip.
The two metal prongs on the back of PocketPlug are what define the case. When they’re not in use, they sit slightly below the plastic surface. When it comes time to charge, you simply have to lift one side up. Since the two are connected, they’ll both raise up, snapping into place parallel to one another. The case can then be connected right to an outlet, providing 1-Amp charging, which is full speed for iPhones. Due to the size of the case, it’s best suited for being connected to the top outlet in a vertically-oriented array. The prongs are strong enough that the phone does stay in place, although it may dip forward just a little bit, depending on the outlet. While it can connect to power strips, the width of the case may block access to other outlets on one side, or both.
There’s no denying that PocketPlug is a pretty cool idea: being able to recharge the iPhone 5 without a second thought wherever there’s an outlet available can certainly come in handy. However, the price isn’t quite right. Prong’s $70 tag may be on the lower end of the spectrum for iPhone 5 battery cases, but those have the advantage of charging your device anywhere. By comparison, PocketPlug doesn’t hold any backup power, and must be tethered to a wall—just like the wall adapter and USB cable that are included with every iPhone 5. Further, it’s only fine as a case rather than great; it could stand to be more protective and less bulky. Ultimately, the price is just too high for what you get. The charging idea is novel, pretty well executed, and useful, but the accessory is around $20 too expensive given the overall functionality and protectiveness offered by the case. For these reasons, PocketPlug is worthy of a limited recommendation.