Running out of battery when there’s no charger available is still one of the most annoying things about owning a smartphone. Samsung equipped the Galaxy S7 Edge with a generous 3,600mAh battery, but it’s being asked to power a high-resolution 5.5-inch display, a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor, and a great 12-megapixel camera. Even with a battery that big, on busy days, it’s not uncommon for the battery to run down before bedtime.
Carrying a spare battery is not an option since the gorgeous curved body of the S7 Edge is sealed. So, you can either go with a portable battery pack, or you can opt for a battery case. We’ve been testing the Incipio Offgrid Backup Wireless Charging Battery Case for the last three weeks to find out whether it’s a good solution.
A bulky battery case
Battery cases are generally bulky. We’ve started to see some slimmer designs on the market, but they inevitably have smaller batteries in them. The Incipio Offgrid packs a large 3,700mAh battery, but it adds considerable bulk to your S7 Edge.
The two-piece design is quite nice, if a little plain. It comes in black with a soft-touch, matte finish that’s very comfortable to hold and adds considerable grip. Your S7 Edge slides onto the Micro USB connector on top of the chunky curved back section that holds the battery, then there’s a thin bumper piece with metallic button covers for the volume and power that snaps on top.
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Putting your S7 Edge into this case and removing it is fiddly. There’s a slot at the bottom to enable you to wedge the bumper piece off, but we struggled with it at times. On the plus side, your phone isn’t coming out of this case accidentally. There’s a large cut-out for the camera on the back and we used it pretty extensively with the case on to find out if there was any interference. We didn’t encounter any problems, even when using the flash.
As with most battery cases, there’s a solid bottom section where it plugs into the Micro USB port. Incipio has included a cut-out for the speaker, which redirects the sound to the front. It seems to work pretty well without muffling the audio. In fact, since we’re in the habit of accidentally covering the S7 Edge speaker quite often because it’s on the bottom edge of the phone, this setup worked a little better.
This chunky chin also necessitates a 3.5mm headphone extender, which is included in the box. A lot of headphone or earphone jacks are going to be too big to fit into the opening in the case, so you’ll need this extender, but it’s definitely the sort of thing that’s liable to go missing.
The bumper frame on the case is billed as tough, shock-absorbent polycarbonate, but it’s very thin and we’re not convinced about its protective capabilities. This case doesn’t offer rugged drop protection. If you did drop your phone, we imagine the chunky back would provide decent protection, but if it landed face down you might be in trouble. There is a very slight lip top and bottom, but the sides are cut-away to reveal the edges, so the screen is largely exposed.
This case supports wireless and quick charging
The last thing in the box is a standard Micro USB to USB cable which plugs into the bottom of the case to charge it up. It supports Quick Charge 2.0 and pass-through charging, so if you plug it in, your S7 Edge will be charged first and will charge as quickly as the cable and charger will allow. Use your original Samsung charger, and you’ll get the full benefits of quick charging.
Incipio has also included support for wireless charging. Just like the S7 Edge itself, the Incipio Offgrid case supports Qi and PMA wireless charging. If the S7 Edge is in the case it will charge up first, but you can also put the empty case on a wireless charging pad and it will charge up, which is really handy if you already use wireless charging a lot.
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At the bottom right of the case, there’s another metallic button that turns on the battery. Tap it once and four LEDs in the chunky bottom section light up to show remaining power. If you want the battery to start charging the S7 Edge, you have to hold this power button down for a few seconds.
When it’s turned on, the battery case charges the S7 Edge pretty slowly. It’s a 5V/1A output, so we’re talking somewhere around two hours to fully charge your phone. Even though the battery in the Offgrid is rated at 3,700mAh, we found it provided a boost for the S7 Edge that was between 70 and 80 percent of total battery capacity.
You can use the S7 Edge while it’s charging, but it can get hot. On the whole, we found it wasn’t a problem, but shooting video with the battery case on and charging sent the temperature to uncomfortable levels. For battery health and longevity, it’s not generally advisable to use your phone while it’s charging.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can still use NFC and pay functionality with the case on, and there were no problems syncing with laptops and computers to drag and drop files.
We use a lot of different cases and portable battery chargers, so we were interested to see how the Offgrid would perform. During busy periods when we needed to charge and use the S7 Edge at the same time, which is really awkward with a battery pack, the Offgrid was the perfect solution. But for everyday use, we found it added too much bulk and weight. We got into the habit of only putting it on when we needed the charge and then removing it afterwards, which was a bit of a pain to do because of the fiddly bumper.
Any battery case inevitably detracts from the design of the S7 Edge. If you don’t want to cover it up or the bulk is going to annoy you, then opt for a portable battery charger instead. As S7 Edge battery cases go, we haven’t found a better solution than this one and the inclusion of wireless charging, QC 2.0 pass-through charging, and NFC support puts Incipio’s Offgrid ahead of the pack. You can pick it up for $60 and, although it’s not perfect, if you’re looking for a Galaxy S7 Edge battery case it’s the one we recommend.