As I was making my list of devices and chargers to bring on vacation last week, I realized that I was going to have to get something that could easily charge my iPhone 5 on the go. I’m a hardcore mobile Internet user and the battery life has never met my needs, especially on vacation, where it’s often my most used gadget. I started off by looking at standalone power packs like the Mophie Powerstation, which we’ve reviewed before. I was intrigued by those type of devices because they could charge more than one device, whereas a dedicated iPhone 5 battery case could solely charge the phone and nothing else. The standalone battery packs also offered a lot more power than a case, especially when you compare the prices of the two.
Battery cases, however, are much more convenient than power packs. Just put your phone in the case and anywhere you go, you have the ability to charge it. In the end, the ease of use and simplicity of battery cases was the deciding factor for me. After much research and reading our own reviews of the Mophie Juice Pack and Otterbox Defender cases, I ended up going with the Lenmar Meridian case for the iPhone 5.
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The design of the Lenmar Meridian is nothing fancy by any stretch of the imagination. It comes in three colors, white, red and black. Aside from the color, all three models look identical.
To put the case on your device, you simply have to slide your phone into the bottom part and make sure it’s correctly situated in the Lightning connector. Then, align the top portion of the case with the edges of the iPhone 5 and slide it into the bottom. I had a little bit of trouble getting the two portions connected, specifically the top, but once you get the hang of it, the process is incredibly easy.
The Meridian offers cut outs for all of the buttons and switches on the iPhone 5. Up top is a hole for access to the power button, while cut outs for the volume buttons and silent switch are on the left. I didn’t have any problems using the buttons with the case, though they were a bit harder to reach than without a case. As you’ll notice, the bottom of the case juts out quite a bit from where the actual phone is. Because of this, the 3.5mm headphone jack is recessed pretty far into the case. Lenmar includes an adapter to help headphone cables fit into the port, though I had no issues using Apple’s EarPods without an adapter. There are also speaker cutouts on the front of the case. I didn’t notice any differences in sound quality with the Lenmar, which is great.
You’ll also notice that instead of a Lightning port at the bottom is a microUSB connection. This is both a blessing and a curse. If you’re someone who switches often between Android and iOS devices, then it’s nice being able to charge both with the same kind of cable, but if you’re not, then it’s a total pain. I have a handful of Lightning cables placed sporadically around my house and in my car so I can charge my phone no matter where I am, but all those become useless when I use the Meridian. Obviously, the implication is that you won’t need to charge your iPhone 5 as much with the case on, but it’s still rather annoying having to change chargers depending on the case.
Another downside to using microUSB is that data won’t pass through it, so when you want to sync your device with iTunes, you’ll have to remove it from the case and fall back to a Lightning cable.
One of the biggest concerns with a battery case is the extra size and bulk added. The Lenmar Meridian comes in at 5.4 inches tall, 2.5 inches wide, and 0.6 inches deep. A naked iPhone 5 measures in at 4.87 inches x 2.31 inches x 0.30 inches, so as you can see, there is a pretty drastic size change between the case and bare device. For a frame of reference, however, this is thinner and smaller overall than Mophie’s Juice Pack Plus, and the Meridian offers more power than it.
The case is made out of a rubber material that can attract some fingerprints, but is nowhere near as bad as some other rubber cases have been. It’s also easy to slide in and out of pockets and pretty comfortable to hold for an extended period of time.
While there are still several downsides to using a battery case with the iPhone 5, the Lenmar Meridian does the best job of cramming a lot of power into a relatively thin profile. It’s not perfect by any means, but the power may make up for it…
Now let’s talk about the real selling point of the Lenmar Meridian battery case: the power that it supplies. The case adds a whopping 2300mAh of power to the iPhone, which means that it can take an iPhone that’s at 0 percent battery to a 100 percent charge. That’s of course assuming you don’t use the device at all while it’s charging. If you do, the case should still be able to get you to the mid nineties. For comparison’s sake, the bulkier Juice Pack Helium and Juice Pack Air are able to take an iPhone to 66 percent and 79 percent respectively.
The steps to activate the charging process are incredibly easy. On the back of the case you’ll find a button and a LED indicator. To find out how much battery you have left, simply press the button and the LED indicator up depending on the charge. Green means you nearly have a full charge, and every color below that means less and less charge. Long press the button for three seconds to activate the process and do the same to stop the charging process.
Lenmar is not necessarily a household name when it comes to iPhone accessories. Mophie, for the most part, has a hold on the iPhone battery case market, but Lenmar is definitely a viable competitor. The Meridian gives the best bang for your buck of any battery case and is the best option on the market for nearly everyone. No other case on the market can take an iPhone 5 to 100 percent battery and keep such a slim and easy use profile. I also really like the intuitive charging process.
Overall, at just $80 on Amazon for 2300mAh of extra battery (and $70 for the white model), the Lenmar Meridian is the iPhone 5 battery case to get.