Extra Juice: Xpal PowerSkin Spare iPhone Charger Case

The Xpal PowerSkin Spare is a case with a built-in battery for charging Apple’s smartphone line such as the iPhone 6. Xpal

Price Comparison

Like a tyrannical despot, I’m always hungry for power. Well, at least when it comes to my portable electronic devices. This is especially true for my iPhone, which gets a lot of use as my work phone.

Forget e-mail and web browsing. As a reporter in today’s new tech-savvy media world, I’m also expected to use my iPhone to take pictures, shoot and edit video, and pop up on social media to interact with our audience or post whatever interesting thing I’ve got going on for the day.

This means lots of smartphone juice-sapping activities for yours truly, which also means that spare battery options are essential for me when I’m out and about. As such, I’m always on the lookout for devices that allow me to pump in extra power into my iPhone. The latest such device that I tried out is the Xpal Power PowerSkin Spare, which I tested on the iPhone 6.

Like the Buqu Tech Power Armour, the PowerSkin spare serves as a smartphone case with a built in battery for the iPhone 6. The overall shape is even similar, albeit with some key differences.With a capacity of 2,200 mAh, the PowerSkin has enough juice to fully charge an iPhone 6 with a little extra power left over. This is a plus as it effectively doubles the operating time for your phone without having to plug it into a wall outlet or computer.

Speaking of plugging in, the battery is built into the case so you can start charging your phone sans wires.

All you need to do is pop in your phone into the case as you would with other iPhone 6 cases and you’re good to go. Unlike the BuQu and the Power Ion iPhone 6 cases, however, the PowerSkin Spare’s lightning port plug does not retract. This makes installation a bit more difficult as the fit is pretty snug.

On the plus side, you get a more secure fit compared to the BuQu and Power Ion. Like the PowerIon, the PowerSkin Spare is thinner, too. One drawback from the super snug fit and lack of retractable Lightning port, though, is that taking your phone out is a lot more difficult. This can be a bit annoying when you’re in a rush and have to remove your iPhone 6 for some reason, like if you need to link it with a portable drive like the Leef Supra 3.0 or Sandisk iXpand. Like the BuQu and Power Ion, protection is also minimal, particularly if you happen to drop your phone on an uneven surface or rocky area. As far as looks go, however, the Spare is easily the best looking when compared to the other cases I mention. Its metallic look actually meshes really well with the iPhone 6’s design and even comes in the same colors — Space Gray, Silver and Gold.

The Spare also comes with a handy battery indicator in the back to let you know how much power you’ve got left. Note that the device does experience battery drain even when not in use. As part of testing, I charged the case fully then left it alone for a month and noticed that it was down to one light or 25 percent or less of its capacity despite the fact that I did not use it.

It’s $80 price tag might also be a bit high for some folks. On the plus side, folks who prefer using a standard microUSB port to charge their devices instead of Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector will be happy to know that the Spare allows you to recharge your phone with a regular microUSB cable.

Overall, the PowerSkin Spare is a solid charger with its share of pros and cons. The case is one of the better looking ones out there and provides a snug fit for added security. The difficulty of removal, however, might frustrate frequent swappers and the price tag is a tad high. If, however, you like a good-looking case, are mostly concerned about extra power, and don’t plan to take off your case that often, the PowerSkin becomes a more viable option.

Rating: 3 out of 5

For more reviews on phone cases and other gadgets, check out our Other Devices and Accessories hub