Buying Guide
By Jonathan Gallegos
on 4.30.13

It’s inevitable. You’ll be there, she’ll be there, the conversation will be flowing like Jay-Z pouring Jay-Z’s own brand of vodka at Jay-Z’s own party. Then it’s time to part ways. She laughs, smiles at you as she sips through her straw. You pull out your phone. What? It’s dead. No.

“Wait, do you have pen and pa…” It’s too late. Your battery’s gone, and so are your chances.

There are other, far better reasons for wanting backup power on your iPhone 5, but the lesson is the same: doubling battery life is a no-brainer. Options run the gamut for solutions to Apple’s latest quick-to-die wonder — and we really mean run the gamut. It’s a bit of the Wild West in the battery case world at the moment, so start here with our five best selections, then do your homework and make sure what you choose will get you what you want.

Mophie Juice Pack Air

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In the world of iPhone battery life extenders, the Mophie is the place to start. This snap-on pack earned its glowing reputation with a snug and rugged case design while also doubling the battery life (8 more hours of gabbing) of your iPhone 5 with a 1,700mAh battery. Simultaneously charging your phone and Mophie is still an option as the connector ports are left exposed. It’s the most expensive case on our list; it’s also the most proven and the best looking.

iBattz Mojo Refuel

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The relative newcomer (and horribly named) iBattz Mojo Refuel looks patent infringement-ly close to the Mophie, but separates itself in a very unique way — a replaceable snap-in 2,200mAh battery. Instead of charging the entire case, once a battery is fully drained, you can swap it out for another battery without ever changing the case. We like to imagine it like a mamma marsupial carrying offspring in her pouch (though we’ve been watching too much Discovery channel lately). A one year limited warranty adds to the Mojo’s stock as a great alternative to the Mophie with similar ruggedness, styling and price. Unfortunately, it’s currently out of stock, but we’ll keep an eye out for more production.

uNu ECOPAK

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You’ve seen one snap-on battery life extender, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong. The uNu ECOPAK is the only detachable battery (it uses a lithium polymer, to be exact) case on our list to promote their “green” advances. We like the functional design, the switchable, vibrant color offerings and the fact that its 2,500mAh more than doubles the life of your iPhone 5. Still, the ECOPAK loses major points for the extra cable necessary to make it work. Instead of plugging directly into the iPhone (like most other case/chargers), the ECOPAK snaps into the back of the iPhone like a backpack and is tethered to your phone via a shorter USB cable. While this means it can be used to power devices beyond your iPhone, it also means the ECOPACK is… awkward.

PowerSkin PoP’n

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No, it’s not a Justin Bieber song — it’s a uniquely designed, suction-cup-powered battery life extender from PowerSkin. Though the design has the ability to invoke images of a thousand tiny plecostomus (that’s a sucker fish for you etymology dunces) as it attaches to the back of your phone, the PoP’n packs a pretty powerful punch with its Slim, 2,000mAh, 10mm-thick case. At only 86 grams, this is one of the lightest in the roundup, but it only extends battery life up to 70%. And beware: if you have a bulky case on your iPhone already, the PoP’n’s charging connection may not be long enough to reach the distance with a case already connected.

Maxboost Fusion

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We’re not sure who came up with this popular case design, but Maxboost has no qualms with making use of it. Their snap-on pack resembles several others on this list at a price point that is much more competitive. If you’ve got to have the flippy-floppies match the phone, this case is probably for you as it boasts ten different color options. Battery power is the same as most others on this list at 2,000mAh; it effectively doubles the battery life of an iPhone 5 (or 8 additional hours whispering sweet-nothings over the phone).