AS MY PHONES have gotten progressively smarter and smarter, their battery life has shrunk almost into uselessness. The grand old days of my Nokia 1611 lasting a week without a charge are faded memories now.
Obviously! All that primitive thing did was make calls, send texts and wake me up in the morning. My iPhone 5S on the other hand does everything. With my life spent overseas, I’ve become the proverbial road warrior, booking tickets, navigating Thailand’s streets, translating foreign languages, and generally staying in touch with my world all on my phone.
Which is wonderful, but when you use a smartphone like that, the battery life is, to put it mildly, pants. I get nervous when the battery gets below 70 percent, and positively uncomfortable when it gets below 50 percent, because I’m likely to be caught short.
So I’ve taken to traveling with a small Li-Ion power brick in my backpack, which is a semi-useful (if slightly silly) solution. A cable runs from the backpack to the phone, and another one from the phone to my earphones. When did I devolve into such a geek?
There had to be an alternative, and there is. On a short visit back to the USA, I noticed a friend of mine had a battery case on his iPhone. I asked him how he liked it, and his response was super positive. He then mentioned that he had a spare one he’d bought for his wife that she wasn’t using. Did I want it? Did I ever! One of those things would solve my problems. Well at least some of them.
As it turns out, you can solve one problem but you do need to pay a price to extend your iPhone’s battery life – even if you don’t pay for the battery case itself.
First up – it’s heavy and clunky. I adapted to the extra weight and bulk pretty quickly. At least until I picked up my partner’s iPhone 5S and wondered why she had the extra special, limited edition, featherweight model, and I had the old brick style phone. Ah yes, batteries are what they are, and they take up space and have mass. There’s no way around simple physics, even when you slim them down as far as possible.
So you have to carry around a bit of an anchor, but that’s not the end of the world. What is problematic is the port design. This case uses a Micro USB port for charging and syncing, which is a bit of a pain. The case also comes with a special extra long and thin 3.5mm adapter for the headphones because the headphone port is now buried way down in the depths of the case.
The Micro USB port I can live with. Many of my other gadgets use that cable, so I’ve got one plugged in somewhere most of the time. The headphone thing on the other hand is a true pain. I suppose that I could default to a set of Bluetooth ‘phones but I have yet to encounter a set that sound as good as the wired type. And when one is traveling with two really good sets of in-ear ‘phones (Ultimate Ears Super Fi 5 Pro and UE900S), then it’s no fun going backwards in terms of audio quality.
But that stupid adapter is a hassle. It gets in the way, it gets left on the wrong ‘phones and I only notice when I get to gym or it gets totally misplaced for the day. It’s driving me mad.
But, and it’s a big but, pushing the button on the back of the battery case anytime, anywhere and seeing the little lighting bolt appear next to the iPhone’s battery indicator is a pleasure. Most notably so at the tail end of a long day, when 8 percent battery just would not do to get me back to the Metro station. Once you’ve had it, you can’t go backward.
So for the moment at least, I guess I’m stuck with my compromise solution. Until someone figures out how to make a smartphone actually last a full day of hard, hard use. It’d be better if I can find a battery case that doesn’t mess with the headphone jack – Amazon here I come. ASHLEY KRAMER