Review by Andrew Kameka on Thursday April 17, 2014.
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Regardless of how good battery life might be for a phone, it's probably not good enough for people who use their phone often. Apple iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s users would be wise to take the extra step of using an extended battery case like the Jackery Leaf, which promises to more than double the amount of time you can use your iPhone on a given day.
The Jackery Leaf is a two-piece accessory that is part case and part battery booster. The phone is typically placed into a snug cast that feels like metal but is really just a high-grade plastic with a premium finish. Don't be too excited about thinness because the second piece, which houses the 2,400-mAh battery, increases the size. The two pieces latch on to each other so that the Leaf can power on and restore battery life. That extra power comes at the price of a thick footprint that doubles the usually svelte iPhone from 0.30 inches to 0.7 inches. It's still thin compared to other phones, but it's relatively chunkier and and weighs in at still manageable but heavier 3.4 ounces.
A comforting aspect of that extra space necessary for the Leaf battery case is that it can increase use time by 150 percent. The iPhone 5s has about 1,570 mAh battery on it's own and promises 10 hours of use. That's not enough for someone who is constantly taking photos, listening to podcasts, checking email, and browsing the web. That's why for several weeks now I've been very pleased to never worry about battery life when the Leaf is within my grasp. I do those power-draining activities often but still managed to drain my iPhone 5s to 5 percent knowing that I wouldn't get access to a charger. I simply booted up the Leaf to go through the rest of the day. On a recent trip to Phoenix, I left my charger at home on Friday afternoon and didn't need a charger until Sunday morning. The kind of assurances offered by the Leaf, whether carried as a case or stored in a bag just in case, allowed me to use my phone without curtailing activity to ensure I didn't run out of power.
The Jackery Leaf design works well. It's easy to charge a phone and its use of a micro USB connector means you can even recharge the case or phone at a friend's house. You're more likely to find a micro USB charger than a Lightning port in most places, so the flexibility is very beneficial. It's less exciting to deal with the headphone jack, which is hard to reach for connectors that aren't straight. In those instances, you'll have to rely on an included jack extender. I was really disappointed to have to worry about keeping the connector, which is easily the most disappointing thing about the case. People who rely on headphones with straight 3.5mm plugs or are wireless have the benefit of skipping out on that weakness.
An iPhone 5s or iPhone 5 Jackery Leaf case costs $59.95. Each case comes with 2 of 3 color options -- white, black, or orange -- for the snap on case. The secondary battery portion comes in white or black. If your iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s doesn't last quite as long as you need, the Jackery Leaf has style and power to see you through..
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.