Scosche is well known for their cases, accessories, and audio devices. They have a wide variety of useful and unique accessories from heart rate monitors, backup batteries, and even headphones. Their line of products continue to appease iPhone, iPod, and iPad lovers alike. Today, I review the Scosche switchBACK Surge g4 backup battery case, which from a first glance appears to be a very durable case, and will hopefully get me the extra juice I need to help me squeeze a few more hours out of my phone. Read on for the full review:
- Output: 5v; 5 watt (1 Amp);
- Capacity: 1800 mAh
- Additional hours
- Video Playback: up to 9 hrs
- Audio Playback: up to 36 hrs
- Internet Use:
- up to 5 hrs on 3G;
- up to 9 hrs on Wi-Fi
- Standby Time: up to 275 hours
- Up to 6 hours Talk Time on 3G
- Up to 12 hours Talk Time on 2G
This case is made up of 3 pieces: one being the back cover, which comes in both black and silver, a bottom piece containing the battery, and then the top piece to hold your phone together. All 3 pieces are made of durable plastic. The openings, like the volume control buttons, for the case are perfect, fitting both the Verizon iPhone 4 and AT&T iPhone 4 without any problems. I was able to access all of the buttons as I should, and the headphone port was even given a little bit of space in order to accommodate some of the larger headphone jacks. The only port that is not accessible is the iPhone dock, as it is being used by the case to charge the phone. In order to charge both the phone and case simultaneously, you must use the supplied mini-usb cable.
This can be rather annoying if you want to plug it into a dock, or an iHome, but it has to be done in order to get the battery to charge directly to the phone. When I slid my phone into the case, I had zero problems, and I closed it up easily. The only problem was, taking it out was a pain, since I have a ZAGG-esque screen protector on, made of a gummy-like material. Since the case overhangs the front of the phone, it managed to grab onto the screen protector, and made it very hard to pull out. If you switch to the slippery kind of screen protectors, you’ll most likely be fine. If you don’t plan on removing your phone that often, then it’s probably not much of a problem for you, but if by some chance you have to remove your phone after dropping it in water, you probably won’t get it out too easily with sticky screen protectors.
The case, while appearing rather large, isn’t actually all that bulky. When holding the phone in the case, it feels natural to hold, and didn’t really bother me much at all. While the case isn’t much wider, it is a little bit taller, which may be annoying for some people. To fit the battery in, the Scosche has to be a bit larger in size than most cases, but its fantastic battery life makes up for it; we’ll get to that a little bit later. As for the weight of the switchBACK, it came in at 0.15 lbs, which is fairly light considering the power it packs. My favorite part of the case would have to be the built-in kickstand, which snaps into place when not in use. While the kickstand is a bit flimsy, as long as you don’t intentionally try to break it off, it won’t snap. Overall, the case design is a little bit bigger than your average case, but it does have a battery inside, which makes up for it.
While “big” and “protective” don’t always coincide, this case makes it happen. The case is not your regular case, as it is fairly tall and protrudes to the sides a little bit. It also overhangs the front of the phone a tiny bit, so that if you drop it face flat, your screen won’t shatter into oblivion. Since the case is built like a rock due to its touch plastic, dropping it from shoulder height won’t do much other than make a thump sound. The shape of this case reminds me of my Special Edition CES 2011 Case from Speck. This case has a thicker, denser plastic, while the Special Edition case has a thinner type of case.
One major problem I have had with this case is the heat; lots and lots of heat. When first using this case, the heat didn’t really seem to be all that bad. After loss of power during Hurricane Irene, it was pretty clear to me after using this case it was causing massive amounts of heat during use of the backup battery. Using a Cydia application called BatteryPro, I was able to measure the internal heat, using the phones built-in heat sensors, to 45.3° Celsius (~114° Fahrenheit), which isn’t exactly a safe temperature for a $700 iPhone. It doesn’t always get this hot, but it is pretty normal to see it get near that temperature.
When I think of backup batteries, I think of a 30% charge, maybe a little higher. When I turned this on during a FaceTime Video Chat, it kept going. I managed to raise my battery about 50%, and also managed to squeeze in about one and a half to two hours of FaceTime, all on a full backup battery charge. To start charging, simply flip the switch on the bottom left, and you’ll be able to talk, text, surf the web, and watch videos a lot longer than you could before. When you’ve felt that you don’t need to charge it anymore, simply flip the switch back. You might wonder why it’s not always charging, and the answer is that when a phone is constantly charging at 100% battery life, you’re actually degrading the battery, making this switch is very useful.
What’s really great about this case, is that it has a nice battery indicator at the back on the bottom of it. Just simply click the button and you’ll see 4 bars, each indicating the charge of the backup battery; 4 being fully charged, 0 being out of juice. Also, you may choose to charge just the case, or both the case and the phone. Although, the only problem I’ve had with the charging feature is that sometimes when you plug in the charge cable, the power jumps the switch and overrides the charging function so that both the phone and the case are charging, regardless of the position of the switch.
As I mentioned in the design, there isn’t an accessible iPhone dock, so it can’t be plugged into iHomes and such without taking the phone out of the case, which can’t really be helped due to the way the phone is charged. The included USB cable actually charges both the phone and the case simultaneously, so you won’t have to take your phone out of the case and wait for both to charge with awkward and inconvenient timing. It really doesn’t take too long to charge the case, I’d say maybe a good 4-6 hours will have it done. While the iPhone 4 itself doesn’t take very long to charge, this is a backup battery, and you should be happy that is extending your battery life by tons!
While there are other companies selling similar things, such as Brookstone’s iPhone cases with rechargeable batteries, most of them are made of leather, and do not protect the phone as extensively as most plastic cases do, nor do they have added functions such as a kick stand for landscape video or FaceTime viewing. While some of their cases are around $40, it feels worth it to spend the extra $40 for better protection and a longer lasting battery life, as some of the cheaper backup batteries only hold 1200 mAh of power, which includes some commonly found at Brookstone and other retailers.
Since this case is durable and the battery is larger than most, you won’t have to keep shelling out money for new rechargeable cases if their life decreases or if the case cracks. While I don’t particularly mind too much, some people may not want to pay $80 for a case, even if it does charge your phone and protect your device. I think the price is just about right, if not, maybe cut the price by $10 or so. Overall, $80 really isn’t that bad for such a nice case.
While this case may seem expensive at MSRP $79.99, it has saved me many times in instances that my phone was either going dead, or completely dead in situations where I needed my phone. The convenience of just flicking a switch and having my battery being instantly charged makes up for the increased length, thickness and weight of the case, while none of those cons really annoyed me too much in the first place. What I am seriously annoyed by is the apparent heat flaw, as well as the screen protector issue. Overall, this is a great case, and is excellent for movies and general extended battery life, but I would highly recommend not using it in the Summer. At least it’ll keep your hands warm in the Winter!