Taking a turn away from audio devices for the moment, we wanted to take some time to look at Brando’s Power Jacket (aka Power Bank) for smartphone devices. A case that doubles as an extra battery, it packs one within (variable capacities to chose from depending on device) that is capable of keeping your device charged when it runs low on juice.
The one we sat down with and spent the last week testing out was the 2200mah model for the Nokia 920 Windows Phone. Given, the battery isn’t the biggest they have to offer (depending on your model of phone, you can find up to 4800mah selections), but it carried its weight in heavy device use while nearly doubling the lifespan of the test phone throughout each day.
You simply slide the top upwards, slip your phone into the case in the direction of the mini-USB port on the inside and slide the top back down onto the phone. The case is both durable and holds onto the phone well without the feeling that it may pop loose at any point. It has a rubberized texture that gives a nice grip so that it doesn’t slide around in your hands while using your device.
The case does add a little bulk to the phone, but this is to be expected since it contains a battery built-in. It’s the equivalent of using an Otterbox case. The larger the power capacity of the case, the thicker it will obviously be.
When your battery starts to reach a lower level, you simply press the button on the back of the case and it will begin charging the device immediately. There are LED indicators on the back that show it in action, as well as how much charge is left in the case. Once the phone has been fully charged, it will turn itself off to prevent any damage to the phone’s battery.
The case charges separately from the phone via the micro-USB port at the bottom (location may change depending on your model of phone you have). The instructions do mention that if you want the phone to remain in the case and both devices charged, you have to hit the button on the back of the case once it has been plugged into its source of power (ie, outlet). It will focus on charging the phone first, and then it will start charging itself. However, the website does state in bold print, that you should charge them separately. We didn’t challenge this since we didn’t want to do any unknown damage to the test phone.
Note: if your phone support QI charging, it will not charge while in this case. You will have to remove the phone to take advantage of wireless charging.
During our testing, we found that it worked best when plugged into the wall. We tested charging via USB 1, 2, and 3.0 ports on two desktops and it took significantly longer to charge the case. The wall charger we used was certified for up to 2.0 amps (output), and it charged at a normal rate. The case itself does not come with its own cable and charger, so you will most probably want to use the one provided for your phone (if it supports micro-USB), or another device. Else, you can find a micro-USB wall charger on eBay for a relatively low price.
On the backside, you will find a kickstand to hold your phone up while watching movies, which is a solid bonus. The thin kickstand is definitely thin and delicate, so you want to be careful with it, and it doesn’t lock in place once out. So if you bump the phone while using it, it could slide back in causing the phone to fall flat. This won’t hurt the phone since the case protects it from this kind of thing, but it’s something to keep in mind while using it.
We have spent a good deal of time using it for Skype and watching short videos and didn’t have any trouble keeping it standing. You just have to key your finger on the kickstand so it remains open until you have placed your phone on a flat surface.
We also put it through a number of drop tests (no more than 3ft from the ground) to see how well it protects the phone from impacts. We didn’t get too crazy with it since the beveled screen of the test phone is exposed, but it did protect the phone without cracking or damage to the internal battery and electronics. The case received some scratching and a few small nicks, but nothing out of the normal.
When you need to sync the phone to a PC or Mac, you will have to remove it from the case as it will not sync or transfer data through it. This is a minor observation that we didn’t feel was a show stopper of any kind. Just something to keep in mind.
They also offer cases for tablet devices as well, that can offer up to 8000mah of extra power.
We were going to offer a giveaway for this one, but due to our drop tests, we felt it probably wasn’t best to give away like that. Stay tuned for other contests though as we are always giving something fun away here, on Twitter or Facebook!
The case performed well in its tests. It kept the phone charged, safe, and proved to be extremely functional. The kickstand is a little flimsy but in the end, it’s just an extra feature. We would also like to see it able to charge both the phone and the case while everything is together. Since we couldn’t prove which direction it leans towards on that last part, we decided to give the case a 7 out of 10. A great score for a well-made device (that could use a few small enhancements).
For more information on the Power Jacket/Bank and what devices they support, you can visit Brando’s shop here.
Specifications (of test unit):
- Capacity: 2200mAh
- Input Voltage: 5V
- Input Current: 700mAh
- Output: 5V
- Output Current: 1000mAh
- Charging Time: 5 hours
- Weight: 81.5g
- Size: 142mm(L) x 74mm(W)x 20mm(T)
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.