Editor’s note: Smartphones are a great tool for cycling that can track your ride, navigate you to a destination, or even call for a rescue. iPhone Phridays is a ongoing roundup of some of the most interesting or useful iPhone cases we’ve been testing over the last few weeks.
Ever since I ruined one phone’s screen by putting it in my pocket while riding I have been using a waterproof iPhone case, since it protects the phone not only from drops, but from splashes and sweat. I was especially intrigued by the iPhone 5/5s iBattz case ($120) because it is not only waterproof, but has an extra battery pack to extend your run time.
That battery is 2,200 mAh, effectively doubling the size of the stock battery power. With my iPhone I get most of a day of normal use out of one charge, and maybe half a day of heavy use (this is the iPhone 5 with the lousy battery). With the iBattz case I can get multiple days of normal use and at least a full day of heavy use.
Once I figured out how to open the case (you peel the rubbery backing panel off) setup is simple and straightforward. iBattz also includes a silver trim ring that mounts to the battery back if you want the extended juice but don’t need the waterproofing.
That waterproofing is IPX8 certified and iBattz says it will operate in up to 10 feet of water. I didn’t take it swimming but it certainly protects from rain and my sweaty jersey pockets.
Another huge plus is that this case recharges with a standard micro USB plug rather than an Apple Lightning connector. Now any of those USB cords I have scattered around the can charge the battery and the phone. It’s a huge plus when traveling as well, since I can borrow a charger or pick up a new one at any gas station these days.
The headphone port and charge port are accessed via rubber plugs. The headphones need an included extension that is super slim to fit through the hole, so don’t lose that. I also had a heck of a time getting the headphone cover open, and usually had to use a key or something to pry it open. The charge port had no such problem, so maybe it will loosen up with more use.
Some iPhone battery packs run down the phone’s battery then require you to press a button to dump the new charge into the phone. The iBattz on the other hand is seamless, with a steady 100% charge indicated for the entire time it’s running off the extra battery, then switching over to your phone’s battery.
The tradeoff for all that convenience is that the case is big. And heavy. I had forgotten how slim and tiny the naked phone is when I took it out, so I guess you get used to it, but if you want something sleek, this isn’t it.
In all the iBattz case is certainly worth the extra weight if you are traveling, camping, touring, or just running your Strava all day. I don’t think I’ll use it day-to-day, but I definitely wouldn’t go on a trip without it.