iBattz already makes one of the most efficient battery cases we’ve tested for the iPhone 5. So why not — you might or might not ask — add the ability to throw it into a pool? That’s what you get with Mojo Refuel Aqua Removable Battery Case for iPhone 5/5s ($120). Also available as a conversion kit for $55, Aqua takes the standard Mojo Refuel and adds a plastic screen protector and rubber back, which together, create an airtight seal. You can switch between the extra protection and the standard case, depending on your needs.
Inside the case is the same 2200mAh removable battery as is included with Mojo Refuel, although this version notably only comes with one cell, not two. Our previous tests showed that the battery can provide a 104% charge to a fully discharged iPhone 5, which is a really impressive result. For more details on the base case itself, please see our previous review.
When it comes time to switch from the standard Mojo Refuel configuration to the extra protective, waterproof case, you must start by snapping off the plastic frame and replacing it with a cover that includes a clear screen protector, as well as Home Button coverage, and protective grates over the speaker and microphone. A textured rubber skin goes around the back and sides, creating the airtight seal. Not only does it have button protection built in, but there are also waterproof protectors allowing access to the micro-USB charging and headphone ports. We like how iBattz chose to address the silent switch; it integrated a grey dial that simply grabs the switch, and flips it back or forth as you turn it. It works without being overly complicated.
Fully installed, the case offers the needed complete protection. The screen protector doesn’t interfere with the touch controls in any noticeable way, although it does create a small amount of prismatic distortion, a common issue on waterproof cases. We found no issues with the Sleep/Wake and volume button tactility, but the Home Button does require significantly more pressure than any other recent case we can recall. Our tests showed no real degradation of voice quality during phone calls. The rear camera has a very small lens opening, but we saw no issues when testing using the iPhone 5 or 5s. Most importantly, Aqua does keep water out. With the seal on the edge locked properly in place, we were able to fully submerge an encased iPhone 5 with no issues, and iBattz promises iPX8 certification for anti-dust, anti-sand, and waterproof submersion at up to 10-foot depths.
With Mojo Refuel Aqua, we’re presented with a case that does exactly what it is supposed to, and does it well. Does it justify the $120 asking price? On balance, we’d say yes. The target user is someone who wants a full extra charge, plus the ability to use the iPhone as needed in potentially device-damaging environmental conditions—outdoors, near a pool, or wherever water might otherwise ruin an iPhone. That you can switch between the basic Mojo Refuel body and Aqua as needed makes this a smart choice, and just great enough to merit our high recommendation. It’s somewhat expensive, but for the time being, there’s no real competition; other companies currently charge the same price for cases with lower-capacity batteries and no waterproofing. Ideally, Aqua would include both of the batteries found in the standard Mojo Refuel set, but what’s here is an impressive collection of parts for sure.
Updated June 25, 2014: iBattz has shipped us an updated version of this battery case called Mojo Refuel Aqua S ($120). Selling for the same price, it does away with the replaceable battery; now there’s just a single 2200mAh cell. The other big difference is Touch ID support for the iPhone 5s, which works just as expected.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhone 5/5s