Last week, we reviewed the first iPhone 6 Plus battery pack we’ve tested, MOTA’s unauthorized but value-laden Battery Case for iPhone 6 Plus. Now a maker of stylish charging accessories called Tylt has debuted what it says is the first Apple-authorized battery case for the iPhone 6, the Energi Sliding Power Case ($100). Officially shipping in mid-January, Energi continues the sled-style battery case design we first saw years ago in Mophie’s original Juice Pack (below), though with two critical differences: for the same price, it includes a 3200mAh rechargeable cell, and a detachable case that can be used alone when you don’t need spare power.
While it’s not the perfect battery case for iPhone 6 due to some small issues, Energi comes very close. Read on for all the details.
The Energi set we received for testing consists of three parts: an iPhone 6-sized plastic case, an almost entirely plastic battery sled with a Lightning connector at the bottom, and a micro-USB recharging cable. Tylt notes that while it has historically included headphone port adapters with its prior iPhone battery cases, Apple has changed its specifications for such adapters, so Tylt is redesigning its part to meet the new requirements. A card is in the box to get an adapter from Tylt if you need one, and the company plans to include updated adapters with its future products.
Used alone, Tylt’s simple case is nicer than what we’ve previously seen in sliding battery packs of this sort. Most companies include simple, cheap iPhone shells that lack top and bottom protection. But Energi’s case fully protects all of the iPhone 6’s sides, apart from the expected port, speaker, and camera holes. It’s almost entirely hard plastic, apart from a soft touch rubber coating that extends to create somewhat squishy rubber-only button covers on the left and right sides. While it wouldn’t be the first case we’d pick to protect against edge drops, it’s markedly better in looks, feel, and protection than a basic shell; the iPhone 6’s screen is recessed below a front lip, as well.
The only downside is found in the case’s integration into the battery sled. As you can see in the photo below, the side buttons become slightly recessed below the sled’s hard plastic lip, reducing button access and tactility. If you don’t fidget with the volume or sleep/wake controls much, this won’t be an issue for you, but the very best battery cases we’ve tested provide unimpeded button access. On the other hand, Tylt’s integration of its power button and remaining power button directly behind a recessed strip of four white LEDs is both efficient and easy to use; the button is hard to accidentally trigger and does exactly what’s needed for both functions.
From a performance standpoint, Energi is a winner for the price – and hopefully a sign of what’s to come from future authorized iPhone 6 batteries. We’ve been accustomed to seeing $100 Apple-licensed iPhone battery cases with roughly 2000mAh of power, so Tylt’s inclusion of a 3200mAh cell at the same price is a big step up. In our testing, Energi was capable of delivering a 120% recharge to an iPhone 6, going from dead to 100% in 2 hours, then delivering an additional 20% in just under 30 minutes once the iPhone had been partially discharged. We had no problems using the handset for phone calling or other purposes while it was inside Energi, though the tiny headphone port hole is just large enough for Apple’s own plugs. Frequent wired headphone users will want to request an adapter from Tylt if one isn’t in the box.
While your personal battery refueling results may vary a little based on how you use your iPhone 6 during recharging, this is a great first result for an authorized iPhone 6 case. Companies such as Incipio and iBattz have been industry outliers in delivering up to 4000mAh of power in authorized $100 iPhone 5/5s battery cases, and MOTA’s unauthorized iPhone 6 Plus case does the same for only $90; most iPhone 5/5s batteries were in the 1800 to 2200mAh range. But it seems that case makers and Apple understand the importance of offering full recharges for the larger iPhone 6/6 Plus models at reasonable prices, rather than delivering sub-100% charges at last year’s prices. Overall, the Energi Sliding Battery Case is a very good first option for iPhone 6 users: doubling an iPhone 6’s power then adding an extra 20% on top is a solid value for the $100 asking price, and the combination of a good basic case with a detachable battery sled will be a winner for many users. Tylt has taken a couple of welcome steps forward with the latest Energi design, so it will be interesting to see how other Apple-authorized battery case makers respond.