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TUAW review and giveaway: Exolife battery case for iPhone 4

With earlier iPhone models, external battery packs and battery cases like the Mophie Juice Pack Air became very popular, due to the original iPhone's shorter battery life. With the iPhone 4, we're not seeing quite the battery life issues that we did with the earlier models, but for those who need to be away from a recharging power source for a while, battery cases are still an excellent solution.

Exogear has recently released the Exolife rechargeable battery case for iPhone 4 ($89.95), with a built-in 1500 mAh Lithium-Ion Polymer battery that's sure to keep your iPhone 4 running for a long time. Read on for a complete review of the Exolife case, and a chance to win one from TUAW.


The battery case comes in an attractive clear lucite box that displays the sleek lines of the Exolife. In the box are a cleverly-disguised owner's manual (it comes in a papercraft iPhone 4), and a USB to mini-USB cable. This cable is used to charge up the battery before use, with or without the iPhone 4 in the case. Within the case there's a standard dock port for the iPhone 4, so when your iPhone 4 is sitting in the case, it can be charged and use for syncing as well.

The case is made of two parts: a black (or white) plastic shell that contains the battery, charging LEDs, and power button, and a smoke polycarbonate bumper that works like the Apple bumper and other cases to mitigate "grip of death" antenna issues. Putting the case onto the iPhone 4 is fast. You separate the two parts of the case, dock the iPhone 4 into the battery shell, and then snap on the polycarbonate bumper. It's fairly easy to remove the case as well, just by putting a fingernail into a small slot on the bottom of the case, then pulling the bumper off.

Before the first use, Exogear recommends giving the Exolife a full five hour charge. When it's charging, a set of blue LEDs on the back of the case strobe left and right. When the Exolife is fully charged, all of the LEDs are lit up. The LEDs serve as a power meter when the case is in use, acting much like a fuel gauge in a car. Exogear uses a technology that turns off the battery when the phone is fully charged or the battery is otherwise not being used, to keep the pack topped off as long as possible.

The Exolife case doesn't add much bulk or weight to an iPhone 4. The specs show that the case is 2.44" x 5.1" x 0.59" (62 x 129.5 x 14.9 mm) and weighs only 2.08 ounces (59 grams). Adding a fully-charged Exolife to your iPhone 4 can add up to 300 standby hours, 7 hours of talk time, 6 hours of internet surfing, 40 hours of music playing, or 10 hours of watching video to the already long life of the iPhone 4's built-in battery. The less expensive Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 4 ($79.95), on the other hand, is a bit larger and heavier (2.51" x 5.07" x .68", 2.5 oz.), and boasts slightly less additional time for the attached iPhone. Those figures might be more realistic than those for the Exolife, since both are rated at 1500 mAh capacity. I personally think the Exolife case looks less bulky than the Juice Pack Air.

I found that the first charge didn't take a full five hours, but I let the Exolife charge for that amount of time anyway. In terms of using the device, I waited until my iPhone 4 was nearly discharged, then pushed the "on" button at the bottom of the Exolife to let it begin charging the iPhone. The Exolife did a fast job of recharging the iPhone (which was not in use while I had it plugged in), topping off the iPhone 4 battery in a little over 2 hours. The blue LEDs on the back of the Exolife show the remaining capacity of the battery pack when you push the power button for 2 seconds, and are visible even in bright sunlight. The Exolife was only showing half capacity after recharging my iPhone 4, so you might be able to squeeze in a few charges from the case.

Would I buy one? Probably not, but I wouldn't purchase the Mophie case either. I have found since I purchased my iPhone 4 that my current usage pattern keeps me near a power source, so I don't really need a case like this. However, if I start doing a lot more long bike rides in the future, a case like this could become a necessity. All in all, I feel that the Exolife case is a well-made battery case that doesn't detract from the looks of the iPhone 4. My only concern is that the price could put it out of reach of a lot of iPhone 4 users, who might opt for the Mophie case or other external battery packs as a result.

Now you have a chance to win one of these cool cases plus a bonus blue transparent bumper. To enter the giveaway, just leave us a comment below telling us what you'd do with all of that extra time you'll get with the Exolife case cradling your iPhone 4. There will be three winners! Here are the official rules:
  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, leave a comment telling us what you'd do with the extra time you'll get with an Exolife case recharging your iPhone 4.
  • The comment must be left before midnight on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010, 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and receives an Exolife battery case for iPhone 4, valued at $89.95 with an extra blue transparent bumper. Two winners will receive Exolife battery cases without the extra bumper.
  • Click here for complete official rules.
Good luck!

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Accessories iPhone

With earlier iPhone models, external battery packs and battery cases like the Mophie Juice Pack Air became very popular, due to the...