Apple’s disinterest in releasing official iPhone 6 docks has created an opportunity for third-party product developers, notably including HiRise maker Twelve South and battery case maker Mophie, which is rolling out iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus versions of its Juice Pack Dock. Incipio has decided to join the pack with its own options: the offGRID Dock ($40) and several new offGRID battery cases, starting with offGRID Shine ($90, available online for $81). The pitch: pay a little more than the excellent offGRID Express (review) and you get a fancier case with support for dockable recharging. Later, you can purchase the dock separately if you want it.
Is the premium worth it? That depends on your personal needs, but if you want an iPhone 6 dock, you’ll find that the offGRID system is more aggressively priced than Mophie’s alternatives. Read on for the details.
offGRID Dock works with offGRID Shine and two other cases: offGRID and a rugged version called offGRID EXO
Uses two metal pins for charging
Glossy plastic shows smudges
offGRID Shine is a battery-laden version of the DualPro Shine case
It has identical specs to offGRID Express, but 13% lower run time
Easier installation and removal
Since offGRID Express already exists with the same 3,000mAh battery capacity, offGRID Shine is effectively a demonstration of what Incipio can do at a $100 price point: you get a better case and a second recharging option for the $20 premium. Shine’s body combines semi-soft matte plastic, hard matte plastic, and a faux brushed aluminum hard shell to create a fingerprint-attracting but otherwise very nice one-piece case. iPhone insertion and removal is easy — unlike offGRID Express, there’s no bumper to detach from the edges — as Shine’s sides are just pliable enough to accommodate. Shine’s integrated button protectors don’t look or feel as nice as Express’s, but they work equally well. A swirled metal power button on the rear bottom triggers four nice-looking white LED power indicator lights.
The bigger changes are on Shine’s bottom. Incipio has shifted the micro-USB port to Shine’s center, making this case compatible with USB charging docks such as Twelve South’s HiRise Deluxe. It has also added two charging pins that effortlessly connect with the offGRID Dock if you have one. Offering both options is wise, as you won’t always carry the Dock around, and have the ability to recharge the case wherever you may be.
Despite their similar batteries, Shine’s recharging performance fell short of offGRID Express’s in my testing: Shine was able to achieve a 108% recharge (a full recharge from dead, plus 8%), versus Express’s 121% with the exact same phone, tested in the same locations. While I’d normally write off a 1-3% difference as within the margin of error for testing, a 13% difference isn’t trivial.
Battery performance aside, Shine is otherwise a somewhat better case than Express due to its easier iPhone insertion and removal. I personally don’t know that I’d pay a big premium for the benefits it offers, but if you’re interested in using it with the offGRID Dock below, you’ll save enough over a comparably-equipped Mophie Juice Pack and Dock that it may be worth your while.
Also known as the offGRID Backup Battery Case Dock, the $40 offGRID Dock is an all-plastic charging station designed solely for use with Incipio’s offGRID, offGRID Shine, and offGRID EXO cases for the iPhone 6. Made from black and silver plastics, the Dock has a central well with two spring-loaded charging pins — notably not a micro-USB plug — which makes it easy to just drop an offGRID case inside, but useless for bare or otherwise encased iPhones. A rubber base keeps the nicely-weighted dock from slipping around on a flat surface, and a detachable micro-USB cable connects it to your computer or self-supplied wall adapter.
offGRID Dock works mostly as expected, recharging an offGRID case and the iPhone 6 inside at full speeds, with scoops in the front to let the iPhone’s speaker and microphone breathe for phone calls and music. Apart from its fingerprint-attracting glossy top surface, the only issue with its functionality is the depth of the well, which fully obscures the rear power lights on offGRID Shine during charging. The $40 price point is also a bit high for a simple dock — more expensive than the similarly basic $29 ones Apple sells for the iPhone 5/5s and 5c — but it’s less than the $50 Mophie is asking for its Juice Pack Desktop Charging Dock. So if you’re looking for a similar solution with a lower price tag, offGRID Dock is worth considering: the total cost of Incipio’s solution is $130, versus $150 for a Mophie set with a smaller battery inside. If you only need a case, the less expensive offGRID Express delivers better bang for the buck.