A slim external battery case for my iPhone 5, which I can change out to a traditional case when I don't need the juice? Yes please! Let's look at the NuCharge by iKit. The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday, so check it out asap if you're interested!
iKit, and it's flagship product (and only at the moment) is the product company outlet for Shark Design, a new company based in Miami, FL. Oliver, the founder of the company, and a UK designer, has been designing Apple accessories for 3 years. His Kickstarter video tells us (a bit drily, ha, in true UK fashion) he felt it was time to branch out to making his own - enter iKit, from Shark Design.
In the Box
The box for the NuCharge is a sturdy and noticeable thing - a cardboard box in white, black, and "brushed aluminum" is further housed in a rubbery outer case. Although their Kickstarter states Shark Design and iKit are based in Miami, FL, the box proudly displays the British flag and "Designed by iKit in London." Welcome stateside, good sir!
In the box, you'll find a micro USB to standard USB cable (for charging the NuCharge - no AC adapter is provided), the "snap case," the battery attachement, and a "fashion case" attachment. In the pre-production unit we received, the fashion case was brushed aluminum.
The NuCharge is designed well - and offers the user options. A smoky-clear base "snap case" attaches to your iPhone 5 by snapping into place, protecting the back and sides of your iPhone 5 well. The display is left easy to access and unaddressed by the case. On the back of the base are a few slots, similar to if you ever removed the back of your iPhone 4/4S. This is a bit of the uniqueness of the NuCharge.
You can slide any of the NuCharge's attachements directly onto this base case. The (extremely slim!) 1900 mAh battery pack slides directly into place, and when you're done you can remove it and slide the fashion case on for a clean and protective case.
The battery pack is obviously the focus here, and it works well. I charged it up and tested a few times - and while it didn't fully charge my dead iPhone (got into the 90 percents though), it was able to bring a 20% iPhone back to full health in a bit over an hour.
There are a few very cool features to the NuCharge - one of my favorite being the Lightning connector. It's actually built into the battery pack, with a flexible cord and a hiding place on the bottom of the pack. When not in use, a flush fit hides the Lightning connector easily in the battery pack. When you need to power up, pull the connector out, and attach to your iPhone 5's Lightning port. The flexible connector is just long enough to reach perfectly, without having to do any fancy maneuvering.
Charging the NuCharge is simple - connect your iPhone 5, and use the provided micro USB cable (you can connect it to a computer or even your iPhone 5 power adapter) - it will charge both the iPhone 5 AND the NuCharge simultaneously. I simply did so while I was sleeping.
You'll also notice the kickstand - bringing your iPhone 5 to a comfortable viewing angle for videos. The kickstand also fits flush into the battery pack's silicone, and in production will be made out of "unbreakable" aluminum.
Another HUGE improvement over other battery packs - the audio port is easily accessible, and any pair of headphones that would normally fit your iPhone 5 still fits fine.
One of the best things about this accessory is it's support for "fashion cases." When you're done charging the device, you can simply slide off the battery pack, toss it in your bag, and slide on one of the fashion cases iKit provides. There are already a wide variety - white, black, brushed aluminum, and a half dozen other brushed aluminum colors. iKit also has a bunch of colors available in "brushed leather" which has a similar brushed look to the aluminum, but with genuine leather. Very easy to customize your case with iKit, and keep things fresh by having a few colors to swap out.
The NuCharge also comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth. A 4-dot blue LED on the side lets you know your battery life with the press of a button. In our pre-production unit, I had a couple issues getting the iPhone 5 to recognize the device was attached, and pressing the battery life button for a couple seconds seemed to "wake up" the battery pack, to get the iPhone charging again. This didn't occur every time, but was noticeable.
Price / Conclusion
At $79 (available only through Kickstarter - free shipping - at the moment, shipping in April), this is very well priced - competitive with other battery solutions, plus you're getting the added bonus of a standard case with this. The convenience and attention to design in the NuCharge makes it our favorite battery case.
The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday! Make sure to check it out asap if you're interested.
We're giving the iKit NuCharge 4 leaves. A few charging issues will hopefully be ironed out in production; the overall design and features of the NuCharge are thought out and executed well.
As is customary for an MMi review, iKit is hooking up our readers with free stuff! (Thanks guys!) You're getting a brand new, in-box NuCharge with a brushed aluminum fashion case. No microfiber cloth is included.