With great power comes great hideousness ...
How badly do you want to have a battery case — with a removable battery — for your Nexus 4? Or, let's ask it another way. How much ugly are you prepared to put in your pocket — assuming you have oversized pockets and they don't turn inside-out out of fright — to use a battery case (again, with a removable battery) for your Nexus 4?
The ZeroLemon Juicer is huge. And it's quite possibly the ugliest accessory we've ever seen for a smartphone.
But, yeah. It brings extra power to your Nexus 4. So what's it worth to ya?
ZeroLemon describes the Nexus 4 Juicer as "the world's only removable Nexus 4 battery case." And after a quick look, it's maybe clear why nobody else has blundered down this road. What you've got is a big black brick whose only redeeming design quality is that the corners are rounded off, presumably to keep one from stabbing one's self in the eyeballs after first seeing this monstrosity.
Let's talk size for a minute. Of course any sort of battery case is going to be big. We can't knock the ZeroLemon for that. But, yeah. It's big. Here's the tale of the tape:
- Nexus 4: 133.9 x 68.7 x 9.1 mm
- ZeroLemon Juicer: 146 x 72 x 18 mm
That's more than 1 cm taller, a bit wider — and double the thickness of the svelte Nexus 4.
So, yeah. It's not a looker. As far as actually using the ZeroLemon Juicer, it's a pretty simple proposition. There's a top part of the case that pops off — it's got a nice little ledge to get a fingernail under — and then you slide the Nexus 4 down into the main body of the case. That's nicely done.
On the back is a door that you pop open and insert the included 2250 mAh battery. It's nearly the same size as the battery for the Samsung Galaxy S3, but you can't use one for the other. The battery door's stuck on there pretty good. And it's entirely possible to break a fingernail trying to open it. But you also need to be careful using any sort of tool to pry it open — guitar pick, screwdriver, whatever — as the matte plastic is pretty soft and can be easily bent.
To charge the case, there's a microUSB port on the bottom left side. Plug in and a series of blue LEDs show you the charge level. You hold down the power button for 3 seconds to start charging from the case's battery. ZeroLemon recommends charging for a full 12 hours before you first use the case, and that it'll take five or six charges for the included battery to be properly conditioned.
The bottom line ...
Look, this thing works as advertised. You get a case that gives the Nexus 4 some basic protection. (The phone's recessed slightly, so you can leave it face down and not have the screen hit the desk, if you want.) It effectively doubles battery life — and then some if you take into account that you can hot-swap batteries. It charges quickly enough — if you want something rapid, we'd go with an external battery and not this case.
But, damn, this thing is ugly. It's also inexpensive at $39 from Amazon. (You also can get it directly from ZeroLemon.) How much more would it cost if there was just a little more effort put into the design, we wonder. Look at it side by side with a Mophie JuicePack (we've got pics of the Galaxy S4 JuicePack in our gallery here) and it's easy to see that you get what you pay for.