Ah, the combination case and external battery. It's the white whale of Android smartphones. Unlike our iPhone-carrying friends, who have the likes of Mophie to serve their needs, we've been left searching for the perfect way to protect and charge our phones.
Now we've got the PowerSkin Battery Case for the Galaxy S3. Will this one make the grade? Read on to find out.
The PowerSkin Battery Case serves two functions. It's a rubber skin case that protects your phone (save for the display, though the slight lip of the case will keep it off desks), and it's got a 1500 mAh external battery to help keep things topped off. Changing things up a little bit is that the case plugs into the phone via a more traditional microUSB cable that gets tucked inside during the final fitting and is perfectly hidden away.
As a case, it's not bad. The soft-touch rubber fits smartphone around your Galaxy S3. It's not so tight as it's tough to get on or off, and it's not too loose to where we're afraid it'll fall off. That's not to say you won't have to keep an eye on it -- it's still plenty easy to peel back the sides. (And that also means you might remove the case and find some gunk caught in there.)
There's a pretty noticeable seam along the edge of the case, and you might not even notice it had we not pointed it out. You're welcome.
The posterior balloons up significantly, as extended batteries tend to do, bringing the full thickness of the phone and case to a little more than 19 mm -- more than doubling the thickness of the naked Galaxy S3. Here you'll find the button to turn on the battery, with a hidden trio of blue LEDs to show you the charging status of the case.
The phone's volume and power buttons are covered by the case, but they're still easily found and work as you'd expect. The cameras both are uncovered as well. The only real change is the microUSB plug is moved to the side. As an added bonus, NFC is unimpaired.
The bottom line
So here's the thing. The PowerSkin Battery Case is a perfectly OK case. And it's an OK external battery, albeit only one that trickle charges. But that's OK, because it's meant to stay on the phone. But for as much thickness as the battery case adds, we'd expect more than a mere 1500 mAh of added juice. For about half the price of the PowerSkin ($59 at Amazon, $79 direct), you could get a spare 2100 mAh battery that takes up far less room (though obviously doesn't help protect the phone).
The PowerSkin Battery Case isn't a bad battery. It isn't a bad case. But combined, it doesn't add up to what we could get separately.