Nature is a bloody b-…er, you know, that word
. It has the tendency to screw you over when you least expect it. And this stands true especially for batteries. At a recent event, I had an opportunity to video interview a really pretty lady at one of the numerous stands, but guess what? Yup, my iPhone’s battery died. It worked just 2 mins ago, but it chose that specific moment to wave me the finger. And thanks to Apple’s use of its proprietary connectivity, it wasn’t possible to charge it via the common USB cables. In these times is when a secondary battery backup solution like the Case Mate Fuel Max comes in handy. The Fuel Max sports a 2000 mAh battery, which is much larger than the iPhone’s itself, and promises to delivers additional hours of juice when you are down and out.
The Fuel Max slides over the iPhone pretty easily and is a breeze to install. You just pop off the top part of the case, slide the iPhone in, and put the top cover back on. There, you just turned your iPhone into a big, fat brick! The Fuel Max certainly adds to the dimensions, likely due to the battery fitted in. If you are looking at this case to provide you the same visual stimulation that the iPhone gives - yup, you can forget that. It completely kills the look and feel of the iPhone. But, what it gives in return is solid protection. It turns the iPhone from a whimpering cat into a bulked Hulk. It can easily take a fall or two, though I would still be a bit careful since the glass on the iPhone 4 is known to crack under the hard shells.
That said the case is pretty well designed. It feels great in the hand. The matte black plastic, usually seen adorned on Razer mices, is smooth to touch and offers increased grip-ability. However, as the nature of the material used, it will get stained by sweat botches and stains after some use. It’s really hard to clean anything of this surface as it soaks in everything instantly.
Every port on the iPhone is easily accessible, though reaching for the mute button can take slightly bit of effort due to the case’s depth. The Fuel Max is charged via a normal USB port, which also means that you can use the case to charge your iPhone and access its content by using a normal USB cable! The back of the case features a power button and four LED lights to indicate battery life.
Case Mate promises up to 9 additional hours beyond standard iPhone battery life, or additional 7 hours for Internet or 30 hours for audio playback. Unfortunately, the review unit provided to me failed to match those numbers. I face two problems – first, the case took nearly 4 hours to reach the final stage of charging, and after an hour later, it still wasn’t fully charged. Second, the case would turn off at random times while re-charging the iPhone, and would not turn on unless it was reconnected through the USB cable. Also, the Fuel Max battery was completely over after re-charging the iPhone to just 60%. Certainly not the number I was looking forward to.
At $99, Fuel Max is expensive. But it does offer solid protection and additional battery power even though not as much as advertised. If you are the one that needs a re-charge every few hours, and wouldn’t mind comprising the gorgeousness of the iPhone 4, this is a good case to have.