Expanding past its well-known offGRID battery cases, Incipio has introduced a series of standalone battery packs compatible with iPads, iPhones, and iPods. The offGRID Portable Backup Battery is available in 4000mAh ($50), 6000mAh ($80), and 8000mAh ($100) capacities. Both of the larger batteries have separate 2.1A and 1A USB ports, while the smaller only has a single 2.1A port; all are in sleek matte black enclosures, and bundled with micro-USB cables for recharging, so you have to supply the Apple cables for your devices. Also available is a version of the 4000mAh pack with Qi Wireless Charging ($70). It can either charge via micro-USB, or using a Qi contact pad, sold separately.
Rather than choosing a different design for each pack, Incipio chose to go with a consistent shape, simply altering the size to accommodate larger cells inside. The 4000mAh packs both share the same dimensions: about 4” long, 2.25” wide, and 0.5” tall. Moving up to the 6000 and 8000mAh models, they’re both about 4.5” long and 2.75” tall; the only difference is height. The smaller pack is 0.55” tall, and the larger is 0.7”. All of them have four battery indicator lights, glowing blue to represent the remaining charge. A single button, situated flush against the body of the pack, does double duty in toggling power and displaying battery life. Across the line, the batteries are solidly built, looking and feeling quite nice.
We noticed a strange trend when we started testing external batteries with devices running iOS 7. For reasons that aren’t totally clear, identical devices running the new operating system appear to recharge more from the same packs than identical devices running iOS 6. We tested all four of these batteries on a third-generation, Wi-Fi iPad running iOS 7, completely discharged. The 4000mAh packs came in with just about the same results; the basic pack provided a 29% charge, while we saw 32% from the Qi-enabled unit. These numbers are notably better than what we saw when we ran an identical test on the same generation iPad, running iOS 6. As for the 6000mAh pack, we saw a 41% recharge, and the largest of them yielded a result of 56%, which is about 10% higher than the expected charge based on past results.
Compared to the results we’ve seen in the past, all four models of offGRID outperform expectations, and they’re also well-designed. The lack of 2.4A charging detracts somewhat from their appeal, however, as they’re not able to charge the most recent iPads at full speed. Their prices are about on par with what we’d expect though, if not just a little bit high, with the Qi model as an outlier because of its extra abilities. Ultimately, each is worthy of our general recommendation. There are higher-capacity batteries that come in at cheaper prices, but few are as attractive or cohesive as this line.
Updated October 30, 2013: Since this review was posted, Incipio has lowered the prices on some of its offGRID batteries. The 6000mAh model now costs $70, and the 8000mAh edition, $90. This represents a $10 price drop for each.
Company and Price
Compatible: All iPads, iPhones, iPods