With the recent release of new hardware, I’ve been in search of a better Apple Watch charging and storage solution. There’s no shortage of watch-compatible docks, but the Amber Watchcase Power Bank by ClearGrass is far and away one of my favorites. Have a look at our hands-on video walkthrough to see why this might be the best Apple Watch charging and storage solution yet.
The best wireless keyboard for the Mac?
For starters, the Amber Watchcase Power Bank brings the following handy features to the table:
- Charging Apple Watch on the go
- Charging Apple Watch and iPhone/iPad simultaneously
- iOS app with charging notifications and battery status
The biggest feature, at least for me, is the case’s ability to charge my Apple Watch on the go. This is possible because the Amber Watchcase Power Bank features a built-in 3800 mAh rechargeable battery, enough to recharge an Apple Watch six times.
The inclusion of an internal battery means that you will have enough juice to power your Apple Watch for a full work week, even when not tethered to a power outlet. This makes the Amber Watchcase Power Bank perfect for traveling, or for using in locations where there isn’t a power outlet available.
Amber Watchcase Video Walkthrough
Subscribe to the 9to5Mac YouTube channel for more Apple Watch videos
ClearGrass’ Amber Watchcase can also be used to charge an iPhone or iPad, as the 3800 mAh battery provides enough juice to recharge an iPhone 7 Plus from 0 to 100% with some leftover juice to spare. In fact, you can charge both your Apple Watch and your iOS device at the same time.
The first thing that struck me about the Amber Watchcase was its design. This is a well-designed product, and it’s obvious from handling it that lots of thought and work went into its build.
The Watchcase plays nice with third-party bands like this one from Monowear
The Amber’s exterior is constructed out of aluminum, and the interior is comprised of a soft plastic material that won’t scratch your Apple Watch. Almost everything about the case, from the external aluminum, to the plastic interior, to the hinge, feels like quality construction.
Molded indentations for the case and Digital Crown demonstrate a keen attention to detail
You’ll need to buy a separate Apple Watch charging cable, or sacrifice the cable that came with your Apple Watch, in order to set up the Amber Watchcase. Included in the package is a USB-enabled spool that you connect and wind the charger’s cable around.
From there, it’s just a matter of mounting the magnetic puck neatly inside the front portion of the spool. The spool is then locked into the case and covered by a plastic housing that serves to hide and protect the charger’s wire.
The spool features a female USB port to connect the Apple Watch charging cable
On the rear of the Amber Watchcase is where you’ll find two USB input ports. One standard USB port is used for charging your iPhone or iPad, and another micro USB port is used for charging the Amber Watchcase.
The spool with Apple Watch charging cable in place
On the top of the device is where you’ll find a small button next to a set of five LEDs. These LEDs allow you to quickly see how much power remains on the unit’s internal battery.
USB for charging iOS devices and micro USB for charging the Amber Watchcase
If you’re the type of person that likes to keep the Amber plugged in next to your bedside, then you’ll be happy to know that ClearGrass designed it in a way to intelligently route device power.
When the Watchcase is connected to a power outlet, it will directly feed that power to the Apple Watch and any other iOS device that’s connected via USB. By intelligently routing power, it prevents the unit’s internal battery from being drained as often, thus prolonging the battery’s lifespan.
Five LEDs provide a glanceable battery indicator
If the case’s internal battery is exhausted, it simply functions like a normal charger, with the ability to power both your Apple Watch and iPhone. It can even charge an iPad as long as you use a proper iPad charger, and not the standard 5w iPhone charger.
Amber comes in four colors
I was skeptical about the Amber initially, as it started off as a Kickstarter campaign and I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences with Kickstarter. Amber taught me that I should be careful not to lump every Kickstarter-backed product into a single pool, because this truly is a wonderful product. It’s probably my number one Apple Watch accessory, as it greatly improves the ownership experience.
This Apple Watch is charging without any external cables
Being able to charge the Apple Watch on the go, or on a whim when a power cord isn’t in sight, is truly a marvelous thing. I love the fact that the Amber is a case that completely hides your Apple Watch from view. Not only is the watch protected inside of the Amber Watchcase, but it’s actually being charged in the process.
The Amber Watchcase Power Bank features a 3800 mAh internal battery
And not only is this device easy to use, but it’s very well-designed. It’s the type of product that I wouldn’t be shocked to see on the shelves of my local Apple Store. ClearGrass contracted the folks at Foxconn to build these units, so it’s no surprise that the final product comes out looking as good and as polished as it does.
The Amber app lends charging notifications and more granular battery level readings
The free Amber app will help you discern how many cycles the battery has been through, allows you to locate the Amber via Bluetooth, and will send you push notifications to let you know once your Apple Watch is fully charged. Of course, you can also see the unit’s internal battery status in a much more granular way than is possible via the five LEDs located on top of the case.
The main downside that I noticed while using the Amber was that the Apple Watch display is obscured behind the bottom half of the case while resting inside. This makes it hard to see the current time while the watch is in Nightstand mode. That’s not a huge deal, but it’s something that may potentially annoy some users.
I also wish that the App provided more stats, such as the current battery status of the Apple Watch, although this could be an API limitation. You can receive a notification when your watch is fully charged, but you won’t know the status of the watch as it charges without opening the case’s lid and physically looking at the watch. The app also won’t send notifications after it’s killed by iOS, which is a definite weak point. The folks at ClearGrass state that they currently have no plans to update the app to support proper push notifications, which is a bummer.
The micro USB cable that’s used to charge the Amber is way too short. For a device that’s designed to sit next to your bedside, you’d think it would come with a much longer charging cable.
You’ll need to supply your own Apple Watch charging cable. If you only have one Apple Watch charger, then you’ll basically be sacrificing it to use in this charging case.
The price, at $99 will be too expensive for some. If you just dropped hundreds of dollars on a new Apple Watch, I could certainly see being hesitant to drop another $99 on an accessory. Granted, it’s a very cool and nice to have accessory, but it’s certainly not a requirement to enjoy your Apple Watch.
If it sounds like I’m gushing over this product, it’s because I am. It’s really that good. I’ve always found charging my Apple Watch to be a bit of an annoyance. Now I can just place my Apple Watch in the Amber, and take the case with me wherever I happen to be.
The Amber Watchcase Power Bank is available in four different colors on Amazon. Yes, it’s a little pricey, but it makes storing and recharging the Apple Watch so much more convenient that I think it’s a worthwhile investment for any Apple Watch owner.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to watch our Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 coverage on YouTube: