iPhone Traveler Pt. 5: Choosing the right iPhone case

iphoneseagrass

Many people like to use the iPhone “naked,” and I can see why. It looks and feels great just as Apple designed it. That’s fine for daily out-and-about, but I always keep mine in a case while traveling. There’s a risk of it getting jostled around, handled at airport security, or dropped while you fumble with other things.

The type of case you choose depends on several factors. First, what types of conditions will your iPhone be subject to? Will others handle it? Are you likely to drain the battery?

I’ve listed several types of cases to meet all types of scenarios, from underwater to long hours of use. Some offer protection of the elements, some convenience and others will keep your iPhone’s battery going and going. Read on to find several types of iPhone cases.

Battery backups

juicepackSince I recommend that you use your iPhone extensively while traveling, I’ll start with battery backup cases. These add bulk and weight but also greatly extend your iPhone’s battery life. In my estimation, the trade-off is worth it. The best ones can be turned on and off, so you can control when you’re pulling on their reserve. Here are a few of my favorites.

Mophie Juice Pack
Cost: $99.95 (iPhone 5), $79.95 (iPhone 4, 4S)
Compatibility: iPhone 4/4S/5

I’ve been using the Mophie Juice Pack for years. It consists of two pieces that slide over your iPhone, as well as a USB charging cable. The cable is compatible with most computers’ USB port as well as the USB AC adapter that Apple sells for the iPhone.

The Juice Pack itself charges quickly when connected to a wall socket with the AC adapter. And, if you connect the Juice Pack to a wall outlet with your iPhone inside, both devices will be charged.
Four status lights on the bottom provide an indication of its remaining charge (one to four) and a switch on the lower left lets you turn it on when needed. I use the Juice Pack by turning it on once my iPhone’s battery has drained to 20%. That typically gets it back up to 80%, providing hours of additional use.

Third Rail TRIO
Cost: $89.99
Compatibility: iPhone 4/4S (iPhone 5 model is in development as of this writing)

The Third Rail system is unique in that the battery itself is removable, and snaps onto the back of the Third Rail iPhone case. The case itself is quite slim without the battery attached and less bulky than others with the battery in place. Each snap-on battery can be charged while on the case or on its own with the provided USB charging cable. What’s more, the battery can be used as a hub while it’s being charged itself, so connect one other USB-powered mobile device (like an iPod or another smartphone) and charge it up, too.

Finally, the batteries are swappable between Third Rail cases, so you can share them with a travel partner.

Fastmac iV
Cost: $79.95 − 99.99 (varies by model)
Compatibility: iPhone second generation, 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S

The iV from Fastmac is a slide-in case with two unique features. First, it’s compatible with Apple’s iPhone dock, meaning you needn’t remove it to dock your iPhone. While docked, both the iV and iPhone are charged. It also features an LED flash which can be used as a flashlight or when taking photos (the original iPhone 3G and 3GS did not have a flash).

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