The world of backup batteries for smart devices is a fiercely competitive one! There are generic, external charge-anything battery packs to device-specific cases. So how do you decide which one to get? Jackery has designed the Leaf, a hybrid type charging system that allows you to attach the battery pack to your iPhone 5/5S when you need it and keep it tucked away when you don’t.
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I have several external backup battery packs that I carry with me when I travel, but I have never found a case-type backup battery that was not too bulky or heavy to keep on my phone all the time. The Leaf is actually two products that can be combined into on unit to provide emergency back up power to your iPhone 5 and 5S.
As you can see from the picture, the Leaf consist of two pieces, a protective phone case and a rechargeable battery pack. The unique feature here is that the battery pack is not permanently attached to the case, so it can be charged while you are using your iPhone. The Leaf has the following features, as listed on the Jackery website:
2400 mAh premium battery and protective case made for iPhone 5 and 5S
Detachable and easy snap-on design, certified by Apple MFI (Made for iPhone)
LED charging status color indicator
Secured battery with four layers of smart safety protection
2x protective cases and 1x audio extension cable
The dimensions of the Leaf are 5.4 inches long x 2.4 inches wide and .07 inches high; it weighs 3.4 ounces (with the battery back and protective cover combined).
The Jackery Leaf I received came with:
Two phone cases
Audio extension cable
Thank you card
The battery pack of the Jackery Leaf is pretty slim as far as battery packs go. With a length of 5.4 inches, the top of the battery pack sits flush with the top of the iPhone in the included phone case, while the bottom only extends past the bottom of the iPhone by about a half an inch. The width of the battery pack is listed at 2.4 inches, making it just a little wider than the iPhone, but the same size as the included phone case. The height is listed at 0.7 inches, which is at its widest part (the part that sticks out below the iPhone), but most of the case’s width is approximately 0.25 inches. The listed weight is 3.4 ounces. The battery pack itself is black, and has what feels like a rubberized protective covering. The rear of the battery pack has a cutout for the camera and the flash on the iPhone, the Jackery label, a LED charging status indicator light, and a button that’s used to check the status of the battery. The LED will change from red, to blue, to green, depending on the charge status of the battery.
The bottom of the battery pack has the port to insert the microUSB-to-USB charging cable and an audio jack hole designed to be used with the included audio extension cable.
The inside of the battery pack has the Lightning connector at the bottom and an extended stud in the back center to help secure the battery pack to the case. The top and sides are rather narrow and have no outstanding features.
The Jackery Leaf I received came with one black and one orange phone case. The cases themselves are rather pedestrian in appearance; that is not a knock on them, as I would rather have something that works great and has great design over an artsy looking product that functions marginally. I like this design. The case itself seems to be made out of a plastic or polycarbonate-type material and is listed as “certified by Apple MFI (Made for iPhones)”. The fit and feel are good, and the weight is almost unnoticeable. The back of the case has a cutout for the camera lens and a cutout to allow you to attach the battery pack to the case . It also has the Jackery name and logo on the bottom right side.
The top of the case has a wide cutout to allow easy access to the on off switch. The bottom of the case also has an ample cutout to allow access to the charging port, headphone jack, and speakers.
The left side of the case has two cutouts: one for the mute switch and one for the volume buttons. Both are easy to access and use. The right side has no cutouts.
The battery pack and the phone case are designed to work together when you need to charge your phone. When combined, the Jackery Leaf system does not add a lot of bulk to your phone. It will add some length though. Overall, it is not an uncomfortable system to use.
So what about the performance? I basically tested how long it took to charge the battery pack, how long it took to charge my iPhone 5, and how many charges I could get off of the battery pack. Charging the battery pack from almost zero to full charge took about two hours. It didn’t matter if I was using an older USB outlet, using a new USB outlet, or even a plug-in charging block – charging time was about the same. I tested it charging my iPhone 5 from a 14% charge level to a full charge. It took about 2 hours, but it only took about 40 minutes to get the charge over 60%. Note: I did not use my iPhone while it was being charged. So after the iPhone was fully charged, I ran my iPhone down again to see how many full charges I could get off of the fully charged Jackery Leaf battery pack. I was able to get about one and a half charges.
I guess the next question would be signal performance of the phone while it was in the case. I did not see any signal degradation with the case or the battery pack attached to the case, and being an Apple MFI-compliant product, I would expect nothing less.
What’s my bottom line here? I think this is a novel and ingenious approach for a backup battery – there when you need it, gone when you don’t. It has plenty of juice for almost any situation, and the size and weight makes it easy to use and carry. At a price of $79.95, it won’t lighten your wallet a lot, either.