Regular readers know I don’t like bulky cases. If it’s going to be bulky, it better add some crazy-useful functionality. And battery cases are about as bulky as they get. Event the “thin” ones. Well I’ve just spend some time testing out the Spyder PowerShadow iPhone battery case and there’s actually a lot to like for certain types of users. Let me explain.
The Spyder PowerShadow is an iPhone battery case with some interesting features (one of which is very unique). It’s the thinnest battery case in it’s class (2,750 mAh) and it’s the iPhone battery case I’d choose to use if I had to use one (which, these days, is more and more often).
I qualify as a power user. Nary a day goes by where I don’t just about kill my phone battery or have to inconveniently charge it at some point during the day. And with my iPhone 6s’s less-than-great battery performance, the situation is only all the more exaggerated. The obvious solution to this problem would seem to be a battery case.
But ever since I first got my hands on an iPhone battery case (which was a Mophie Juice Pack, I believe), I’ve had a love hate relationship with them. I love that they keep me from every having to worry about charging my phone during the day. I hate that they are bulky. I was on a college campus a few years back and a student saw a battery case on my phone and quipped, “That’s the biggest phone I’ve ever seen.” Well, it was an iPhone 4 wearing a giant of a battery case. I knew right then and there that battery cases were definitely not cool.
But they are sometimes necessary. The biggest use case for me is travel. Frequent travelers know that nothing kills phone batteries more than flying. We use our phones on the drive to the airport, to check in, to entertain ourselves or get work done while waiting to board and while in flight, to get directions to wherever we’re going when we land and for the occasional phone call. And carrying around an external battery pack and an extra cord just ins’t fun. So there you go: pure battery case territory.
And if you’re going to have a battery case, I guess it might as well be shockproof (up to 5 feet), water-resistant and antimicrobial like the Spyder PowerShadow. Yes, antimicrobial. The PowerShadow has a coating that keeps the case cleaner which is pretty cool, especially for those of us who travel frequently. Though you wouldn’t think it, without a doubt I always sit next to someone on the place to thinks it’s alright to paw at my phone to point something out or “take a look.” Lesson: never tell people what you do because they’ll be interested (hopefully, unless you live a boring life).
At it’s core, though, the PowerShadow is a battery strapped to your iPhone. So how well does it do it’s main job? It performs admirably; just like it says and just like you’d expect. Charging your phone when it’s wearing this case is simple: just hold down the button for 2 seconds and bam, you’ve got an extra 15 hours of talk time, 10 hours of web browsing, 11 hours of video time or 50 hours of music playback.
But a good charging experience is more than just the battery. Do the phone buttons still work well? In this case, yes they do. Are the ports still accessible on the bottom? Kind of…
You’ll still be able to access the headphone jack but, like most cases of this type, it’s only going to fit the Apple EarPods that came with your phone. If you want to use other headphones (like, your favorite headphones) you’ll need to use the extension. At least it’s included — the first case I’ve run into that does so.
You’ll also be able to access the micro-USB port for charging the case, but you won’t have any access to the lightning port. That means if you have any lightning accessories, they won’t work with this case on.
Both ports are covered which means you’ll have to pry open the plugs/covers to get at them.
What do the speakers sound like? The sounds is still pretty good. Many people will like the output better as this case routes the sound forward toward the user rather than down like a naked iPhone. I still like the sound from a naked iPhone better just because it seems more natural, but I won’t complain too much about this setup as it’s quite workable.
Does the camera still work? Yep.
But when it comes to weight, this case is still too heavy for me to want to use on the regular. This will be a limited use case for me (as would any battery case). I’m just that picky — maybe you aren’t. If I’m traveling, going to be doing a lot of filming (hard to resist with that 4K mode) or doing some other power-sapping activity for the day (or for a week) I’ll definitely pop this case on. No hesitation. It’s a tool and it’s effective at what it does. But for everyday livin, I’d rather go without and it’s all due to the weight and extra bulkiness (which, again, any battery case would have). When you think about it, there’s a reason why the iPhone doesn’t have more battery than it does (which is regrettable): it adds bulk.
I think the looks of this battery case are basically as good as they could be. That is to say it’s the nicest looking battery case I’ve held in my hands. I like the material it’s made out of and the black case looks pretty posh on my black iPhone 6s.
You can buy a dock to make charging the PowerShadow easier. I’d recommend it. But I do have two small gripes about the dock. First, the viewing angle could be tilted back just a few degrees. When docked, the phone is a little too vertical yet for me to see comfortably at my desk. Second, the phone when wearing the case is a bit hard to press into the dock. You’ve really got to push hard and wait to hear that “bing” to know you’ve made a connection and are indeed charging. The snugness could be due to the fact that my iPhone 6s is slightly (ever so slightly) bigger than the iPhone 6. I dunno. It works, but it’s a pretty tight fit. Still recommended.
There’s a button on the back to turn the PowerShadow on. You’ve got to hold it for 2 seconds to power on which is meant to prevent accidental presses, but I wish it was a bit shorter — like 1 second.
The logo on the back also lights up to indicate how much juice is left. I like turning it on just to see the lights light up! Much cooler than a line of boring circles.
If you’re looking for an all-around excellent, high-quality battery case for the iPhone I’d say this is about as good as it gets. It works very well, I like the looks and it feels good in-hand. This is the best iPhone battery case I’ve tested all year.