REVIEW: PhoneSuit Flex XT iPhone battery
Ahh, June 12, 2013, the day I first reviewed PhoneSuit’s Flex iPhone charger… The little charger that could. I loved that thing, and with good reason. It was small (the smallest 2600mAh battery available), had great ergonomics, and could fully recharge an iPhone and then some. Well, fast forward a year and PhoneSuit has released an updated Flex model – The Flex XT! So what has changed in the new model (besides the XT being added)? Well, honestly, almost nothing. However that ALMOST makes a big difference.
To get those of you up to speed who weren’t around on June 12, 2013 and who are too lazy to read my initial review linked to above, the PhoneSuit Flex XT is a super portable, High Capacity (2600mAh) external battery for your iPhone that comes with a built-in Lightning connector, and which boasts the official “Made For iPhone/iPod” certification from Apple (something most cheaper batteries can NOT say). The built-in Lightning connector is great as it removes the need to carry around a cable with you like some generic USB chargers (assuming you plan to only charge Lightning devices).
From the outside, I can’t say I see any design changes between last year’s model aside from some new color options – there’s the same sleek machined-aluminum construction I fell in love with last year, the same magical electrostatic charge indicator button that has no moving parts, the same solid as a rock look and feel (and weight). Even the PRICE has remained the same at $69.95. But look inside and you will see one very BIG small difference – PhoneSuit has raised the Lightning connector up a couple millimeters, and it makes a big difference.
One of my few complaints about the original Flex was that while the Lightning connector worked fine on a case-less iPhone or thinner case, any case that offered any REAL protection (meaning any THICKER case) was just a little too bulky for the Flex to maintain a solid connection with the iPhone. Well I am happy to report that by raising the connector just a couple millimeters, PhoneSuit has greatly increased the number of cases the Flex can work with.
I’ve tried the Flex with a number of cases, including some pretty big rubbery cases, and it has fit pretty much all of them. However I am saddened to report that with Otterbox’s Commuter Series Wallet case, the Flex BARELY fit… meaning you could get it to charge your phone, but you either had to hold your iPhone upside down and rely on gravity to keep it in, or leave it on a table and not touch it for risk of disconnecting the tenuous connection. For most other cases the Flex XT was able to snap securely on and the phone could continue to be used normally.
The Flex XT comes with a micro USB cable for charging the battery itself, and we recommend you try to use only that cable. We found the Flex charged noticeably faster when using the included cable than when using other random ones we had lying around. As for output, the XT can fully charge your iPhone 5S in about 2 hours, with charge left over to spare. To put the Flex XT’s 2600mAh capacity in perspective, the iPhone 5S’s battery holds 1560mAh, and the rumored iPhone 6 battery is supposedly going to clock in at 1800-1900mAh range.
Unfortunately, the lack of styling changes means the Flex XT also shares one of the few minor annoyances of its predecessor, in that since it snaps on to the bottom of your iPhone via the lightning connector, it still blocks the audio jack, meaning you cannot use the headphone jack while the phone is charging. This may or may not affect you depending on whether you have embraced the wireless Bluetooh lifestyle or are still tethered by cords, but it is something to be aware of.
Aside from the slightly longer connector, the Flex XT has really not changed much in a year, and there’s no compelling reason for any owners of the original Flex to upgrade to the XT – the charging capacity remains at a (very respectable) 2600mAh, and the design is nearly identical. However if you are in the market for a thumb-sized, stylish charging solution that slips easily into your pocket without the need for carrying wires and can more than double your battery life, the Flex XT is one of our favorite iPhone accessories.
PhoneSuit Flex XT
Pros: Wonderful design and feel, longer tip works with more cases, Can be used on any iDevice with a lightning connector, provides more than a full iPhone 5S charge (and rumored iPhone 6)
Cons: Blocks audio port