- About our rating system
I’ve owned different cellphone cases over the years but I’ve never had one like the PowerShadow i4 from Spyder Digital Research. From looks alone, it might seem that the Spyder i4 is a battery add-on with the added function of a protective case for my iPhone 4s but it offers much more than that. The Spyder i4 to start off with is actually two separate pieces of impact-resistant poly-carbonate with a satin rubber finish, which are quite simple to connect to any iPhone 4/4s by attaching the bottom piece to the iPhone’s 30 pin dock connector, and then connecting the remaining piece to the top of the phone. On the back of the case, there is a power button and four led indicators which will show you the current charge of the Spyder i4′s battery while it is in use. And to top it off, the battery case is MFI-certification; that’s not easy to obtain!
The case itself may not be stylish considering the additional thickness for the battery but it makes it easy to access the inputs/outputs and the controls of the iPhone. When playing audio from either music or video, the sound is actually channeled from the bottom of the iPhone through little ports in the case towards the viewer which is certainly enhances the iPhone experience whether its through an app or a movie that you are watching. Since the Spyder i4 doesn’t cover the front of the phone, it is recommended that a screen protector is present in addition for those of you who aren’t careful with their mobile devices.
Now for those who are wondering what kind of power this brings in addition to the iPhone’s built in battery, here are some facts. The iPhone’s built in battery is rated at 1440 mAh which is good enough for browsing the internet up to six hours via 3G connection or about 8 hours of talk time through 3G, according to Apple. The Spyder i4 according to the specs on its product page contains a 2000 mAh A-Grade Lithium-Ion Polymer battery which allows 8 hours of additional phone time on a 3G connection, 11 hours of video, or 44 hours of music just as an example.
Of course, what might look good on paper is one thing but how does the i4 perform on the field? Ironically, during the review of this test unit, I had the opportunity to bring this unit along with me during E3 2012 and use it during the five days while we were there. For example, the drive down to LA was a pre-game warmup as my iPhone was only means of entertainment during the 6 hour drive. In that time, between dealing with intermittent signals with the internet and trying to keep in contact with friends with the E3 energy plus gaming, the combined operational time would leave me roughly with about 25-30% of battery time once we got to our final stop.
The true test would be during our actual coverage of E3. For the most part, my cellphone was the Facebook version of Twitter as I conducted a photo blitzkrieg in tandem to keeping in touch with the rest of the team that was on site. On top of that, responding to photo comments as they were coming hot off the press on Facebook drained a good majority of the battery. Consistantly through out E3 which included the three days of the expo, press day, plus the drive to LA and back, I safely could say that I got at least 9 hours plus out of the combined use of both the iPhone battery and the Spyder i4 supplementing it. In the days separating the expo, the Spyder i4 was very convenient as there was no need to remove the case as it included a specific micro usb port that would allow charging of both the iPhone battery as well as the Spyder i4′s battery via either the cable separately or with the included dock. On top of that, you’re able to sync it to your computer with either process which saved a lot of time.
Overall, the Spyder i4 offers a lot of benefits for the user considering the rising popularity of mobile devices. Retailing at the $89.99 mark, it feels reasonable considering the amount of features it brought to the table during my time using the product. While it may not be a major deal-breaker, it is worth noting that the unit does get considerably warm when the battery is engaged which doesn’t seem to have an effect on performance. In the end, the PowerShadow i4 battery case certainly is a product that iPhone users should consider.