In March of last year, I had the pleasure of testing the Jackery Giant, a 10,400 mAh external battery back that works well with both iPhone and iPad. Today the company has released its first rechargeable battery case for the iPhone 5 and 5s, the Jackery Leaf. The device is a bit different from some of the other battery cases we've reviewed, with a slim profile and two protective cases that snap onto the battery pack.
Dimensions: 5.4 x 2.4 x 0.7 inches (13.72 x 6.1 x 1.78 cm)
Weight: 3.4 oz (96.39 grams)
Capacity: 2,400 mAh
Output: 5V at 1A
Charging method: USB to micro-USB cable (included). iPhone is charged first, then the battery case.
Case material: Soft-touch polycarbonate
Included: extra protection case in orange, audio extension cable, USB to micro-USB cable
The Jackery Leaf comes in two parts -- a slip-on case in black, white or orange, and the battery pack itself (in black or white). Orange appears to be the company color for Jackery; it also happens to be one of the team colors for the 2014 AFC champion Denver Broncos! Regardless of whether you choose the black or white Leaf, you end up with a second free case in orange. That will come in handy when the Broncos beat the Seahawks on February 2...
The case slips onto your iPhone 5/5s, and then the case/phone assembly slides onto the battery pack and snaps in securely. The battery pack is Apple MFi (Made For iPhone)-approved, using the standard Lightning connector.
On the back of the Leaf is a small power button to check battery level. Pushing the button lights up a thin strip LED that flashes red, blue or green depending on what kind of charge the battery has. Flashing red indicates less than 10 percent charged; solid red means the battery has 10 to 35 percent of its total charge; blue means the battery is in the 35 to 75 percent charged range; and green means it has 75 to 100 percent of its total capacity.
Normally the iPhone will charge first, followed by the Leaf battery. If you prefer to have the Leaf battery charge first, pressing and holding the power button for two seconds will do that. Once the battery pack is charged and the iPhone is attached to it, pressing and holding the power button for that same two seconds starts charging the iPhone.
Compared to the Mophie Juice Pack Plus, the Jackery Leaf has more capacity (2,400 vs. 2,100 mAh), weighs slightly more (3.4 vs. 3.14 ounces), is almost exactly as thick (0.7 vs. 0.69 inch) and is more compact (5.4 x 2.4 inches vs. 5.58 x 2.63 inches). It also costs $40 less than the Juice Pack Plus.
I like the two-piece design of the Jackery Leaf. If I feel like charging the case separately from the iPhone, my iPhone is still protected in one of the two plastic cases. Like the Mophie battery cases, the Leaf also includes "channels" to allow sound to escape from the iPhone's two bottom speakers.
Another plus is the charging/capacity LED. While the device is charging, the LED is constantly flashing and it's simple to know just how close it is to capacity by the color. In use, I found the color cues to be a much better indication of remaining charge than the one to four white LEDs on the back of the Mophie cases.
I charged the battery without having the iPhone attached, and it went from fully discharged to a complete charge in about five hours -- that's a bit different from the company's press release, which says that "full charging takes only two and a half hours." The instruction leaflet that comes with the Leaf has the correct time, and notes that the iPhone will charge in about three hours. Although I did not test this, it appears that charging both the iPhone and Leaf would take about eight hours -- in other words, an overnight charge cycle.
Once the battery pack was charged, I took the iPhone and protective case and snapped it onto the battery. The case is quite nice and rigid, and there is no movement once the case is attached to the battery pack. My only complaint is that the flat black soft-touch material used for the battery pack seems to pick up fingerprints quite easily. Fortunately, they wipe off quickly.
It should be noted that, as with the Mophie cases, you do not really need to use the audio extension cable. I've found that the existing headphone cable for the iPhone 5s plugs right into the headphone jack and is easily removed as well.
I'm fairly impressed with the Jackery Leaf, which provides more battery capacity than the Mophie Juice Pack Plus in a case that's slightly smaller and does the job for $40 less. It's Jackery's first foray into the world of battery cases, and by all indications it's done it right.