PhoneSuit offers a number of backup battery solutions for iOS devices, but PhoneSuit Elite 5 for iPhone 5/5s ($100) may just be its best. The generals of the battery case are not too different from those of most models — matte black or shiny white plastic, a slide-off top, micro-USB recharging — but in design and performance, it beats many competitors. Inside the case, there’s a 2100mAh cell that provides a much higher charge than we’d expect, and the bottom edge is shaped to allow adapter-free access to the headphone port. And thankfully, none of those advantageous qualities bulk up the case; it’s the same height and depth of comparable models. Of course, it comes with a micro-USB charging cable.
As a slider, PhoneSuit Elite 5 requires you to pop off the top, push your iPhone in, and then fit the cap back on.
Once inside, the handset is rather well protected, although there’s no real protective lip, and the buttons are left uncovered. If we take issue with any aspects of the case, that’s it. Instead of being squared off at the bottom, as most battery cases are, this one is slightly rounded, offering a few advantages. The biggest of them is directly exposing the headphone port, without the need for an extender or adapter. This is a big win, since you won’t have to carry around an extra piece — as long as you use EarPods or other headphones with similar straight plugs. Oversized connectors won’t work.
Additionally, the design directly exposes the headphone and microphone, and we noticed a slight increase in playback volume.
Pushing the round button on the back of the case once shows how much battery life is left, while holding it down toggles the power on and off. Based on dozens of prior tests, we’d expect a 2100mAh battery to deliver just shy of a full charge to a fully depleted iPhone 5. PhoneSuit really impressed us though, achieving a 123% recharge rate. According to a company representative, that result is “due to better integrated components and circuitry, power transfer efficiency.” It’s among the best per-mAh results we’ve seen, comparable to Uncommon’s Power Gallery.
In terms of price and performance, Incipio’s offGRID is still at the top when it comes to iPhone 5/5s battery cases, especially now that we’ve tested a model without the original squealing issue that hurt its rating.