- Android Phones
Ontrion LifeCHARGE Battery Flip Case for Samsung Galaxy S4 Review
So you just bought a Samsung Galaxy S4, now what?
The Samsung Galaxy S4 (GS4) has been often criticized for its weight. It is still by far one of the few smartphones that still feature a plastic casing over many of its aluminum competitors. However, its specifications make it by far one of the more powerful smartphones. Since its release, it features the most powerful processor of its time and a monstrous battery to keep up with the usage demand.
On another note, the GS4 can feel very cheap or delicate depending on your own user experience. Luckily, this can be solved using a case. As a GS4 owner and user, I completely agree that a case will bulk up the phone and make it a better hold. Today, we will take a look at the Ontrion LifeCHARGE battery flip case for the GS4.
Not Your Usual Case
Before we begin the actual offer, let's just focus a bit on what this case offers. There are two main functions or aspects of this case. The first is the flip cover. Flip cover cases can be found from quite a few companies, but let's not disregard this feature just yet. Flip covers pretty much only have one job, which is to protect your smartphone's screen. This can work in several ways. It can prevent scratches if you typically keep your smartphone in the same pocket as your keys. Screen protectors can only do so much. After all, they simply are a thin slip of plastic that goes over the screen. Flip covers can also keep dust off the screen and are not prone to static as seen with some screen protectors.
At the same time, this case packs a battery on its back. Like all battery cases, the battery provides a charge when the phone's battery is running low. This is a manual operation, which involves turning the case over and pressing the power button on the back. The battery will send a charge the phone. If the phone is off, the battery case will simply charge the phone as much as it can. If the phone is on and in use, the battery will just deliver a charge for its current usage. After all, smartphones can be used while they are recharging. The battery feature can be used in several ways.
It is possible to just use this battery case as an emergency power source. This is just for one of those possible situations when you are out and your phone's battery is drained out. The battery case can give it a boost till you get home and recharge your phone to full. It could also be treated as a daily routine especially if your day starts off early and finishes late. If your phone tends to die sometime throughout the day, the battery case will definitely be useful to get you through the day. I personally have this experience. As a commuter, it isn't easy to find a power source on the bus or train depending on the time of the day. Not only, it's much more convenient to have a battery case than to carry a wall charger when commuting.
First Look At The Battery Case
Just a quick note, the battery case in the video does not feature the flip cover. However, there is a version of the battery case that does come with the flip cover. This is the version we will be reviewing. Other than this difference, everything else is the same including snapping the GS4 in place, design, and power charge operations.
Hopefully this image will clear up any confusion you might have about the LifeCHARGE battery case. This front view of the packaging shows a flip cover. The color option for the flip and non-flip cover battery case have their own selected availability. The battery case with the flip cover only comes in black, while the flip-less case comes in both black and white. I personally got and recommend the black over the white for two reasons actually. We will take a look at this slightly later on when we dive inside the packaging and take a look at the case itself. I will be posting the images of the two for comparison and you will be able to spot the differences yourself. If you are just interested in the design of the case, feel free to scroll ahead and see how they look.
As usual, LifeCHARGE likes to do this flap-like packaging. This flap seals off at the back and will eventually open up to the front. Just a quick note, the two plastic sealing do not hold the flap close. There are actually embedded magnets that holds the flap in place. The plastic stickers serves for tamper protection purposes. Ontrion LifeCHARGE has many distributors and chances are you may consider buying from one of their distributors instead of through their website. If you do not reside in U.S.A, buying from a distributor could significantly save you money on shipping costs and possible import taxes and duties. Once you first open the flap, the stick will peel and rip off a bit of the paper box. If you happen to receive a package with what looks like the paper ripped off, this is a good first indication that your product has been previously opened. Perhaps you are dealing with a return or sample set instead of a truly brand new product.
- Never run out of power again with your Samsung S4, thanks to LifeCHARGE Battery Case
- LifeCharge Battery Case's sleek, streamlined design fits the form of your phone and allows the natural portability of your original S4
- Enjoy up to double the battery life you're accustomed to
- Premium components, including grade A lithium cell batteries, ensure you enjoy the longest life out of your LifeCHARGE
- Eye-catching LED indicators inform you what energy level you're using
- Built-in 2,100 mAh lithium-ion battery offers up to 6 hours of added continuous talk time
- Included kickstand for optimal video viewing
- Imitation leather covering safeguards your screen from cracks and scratches while flipping up for quick and easy access
- Has 5 LED lights to show battery capacity
Full Charge Time
Theoretical and Actual Performance Will Differ
The specifications listed are, of course, theoretical performance. However, it is more important to take the approach of the actual performance because the two will usually differ. It is important to really understand how this battery case under normal usage conditions. If the six-hour talk time is achieved on a modified phone with all processes killed and minimal background operations stopped, it won't do us much good especially when we need to use these services. This will be debunked later on as well.
The case has been taken out to be charged. Just keep in mind that the image shown is actually the battery case without the flip cover. Ontrion LifeCHARGE currently does not carry the white-edition. Just keep this in mind to avoid any confusion.
Inside the box, you will find the a plastic mold that keeps the battery case in place. Underneath, hidden in place is actually the USB charger cord. Unfortunately, this could be a little bit problematic, which I will touch upon in just a second.
I've reviewed several Ontrion LifeCHARGE products so I was quite surprised about this one when I opened up the box and took out the contents. Unlike their other products, I didn't find any instructions manual. Operations is quite simple and it didn't take me long to figure out how the power operation worked. However, it would have been nice to be given pre-cautions regarding the charging and usage. The same thing goes with the box and its labeling. Unlike the other products I have reviewed, you don't see any safety or warning sections on this box. If you check out my other published reviews, you can actually see this on the packaging and also that they have an instructions manual included.
First Look At The Case
If you choose to buy the flip cover version, this will be the actual case you get. The picture shown in the packaging is the white model and, as you can tell from it, there is no flip cover. We will also be taking a look at the color options when looking at the back of the case.
Battery Case Opened Up
This case is currently charging. The charging lights are actually on the back of the phone so you can only see the micro-USB cord connector in this case. You can see a small shiny metal like object sticking out near the bottom. That is actually the slot that goes into your Galaxy S4 smartphone. Why is this there? This is there for two reasons actually.
The first is how else will the battery case supply a charge to your phone? Since a similar charger like port is needed, we see one here. This is the typical micro-USB cord you see with any device. The second is that this partially acts as a locking mechanism to hold the your phone in place. If you look at the top two corners, you may be able to see that they are slightly curved. These actually surround the corners, which hold the case in place. When you put your phone into the case for the first time, you will find that there is a little bit of resistance and then a snapping feel. This is because the corners are actually slightly pushed out as the phone is going in before the corners clamp down on the phone. The process of putting the case in is to first align the micro-USB ports in place. After you align them, you can insert it into your phone's port. Next, a gentle push near the top of the phone can finish it in place.
Choice Of Material
The description already mentioned that the flip cover is imitation leather. However, it didn't really tell you what was the material on the main case. The imitation leather is only on the outside of flip cover. Inside the flip cover and on the main case, you actually get a felt-like material. If your childhood every consisted of endless hours of playing with pipe-cleaners and arts and craft material, you probably know what I'm talking about. This felt like material is possibly to prevent any scratches to the phone and will cushion the phone in place. I don't have any problem with this. It doesn't seem to be glued on or perhaps just glued very well. There are no signs of peeling off so there isn't anything I'm too concerned with. On the other hand, the felt material on the inside of the flip cover is actually useful. I actually double its use as a screen cleaner. It makes a very nice cleaning surface. Although I would prefer a micro-fiber cloth, but that isn't available so this is probably the next best solution.
After using the inside of the flip cover as a screen cleaner, it does become quite dirty. The felt material attracts pocket lint, dust, and whatever floats in the air quite easily. I personally do not like the sight of white specks all over a black finish surface. The only way to remove it is just to brush it off. It takes a while to do it by hand. A brush would be much faster. My recommendation is probably an old toothbrush or a cheap dollar store toothbrush. Just give it a hard scrubbing and it will come off before you know it. I advise against using tape as the sticky residue left behind will only encourage even more dust.
Design And Protection
If you take a close look from this top-down view, you can see that that this case really just has your screen protected. It doesn't do much to the sides. The main sides that are left exposed are the top the right side. To be on the same page here, the right side refers to the one with the power button on it. I probably shouldn't be too picky on the protection as this is a battery case after all. It's main purpose is to provide a power boost, not so much to protect your phone.
On the same design topic, the case actually left a speaker hole open to allow sound to travel through the case. I have seen a few cases that actually did not take into consideration of the speaker hole. As a result, blasting music or just hearing the ringtone is muffled so I am glad that the speaker hole was actually taken into consideration when designing this case.
As you can see from this image, this is the front view of the case. The flip cover does a great job at covering the screen entirely. Not only that, it also considered the receiver speaker hole. This way, you don't need to flip open the lid and keep it open when answering the phone. I'm one of those long phone talkers and it is just a comfort to not have my sweat and the moisture built-up anywhere near my phone. The imitation leather is really a plastic and leather concept. It is waterproof and cleaning it is very easy. A damp cloth will pretty much wipe everything off. A little bit of alcohol or soap may be needed if you have really oily hands and are leaving oily stains on the the flip cover. Just a heads-up, the groove on on the bottom of the case positioned center-left is not to open the flip cover. The flip cover is by no means locked down. The groove is actually used to take out your phone in case you decide not to use the battery case temporarily. I find this groove redundant as it is much easier to take out the phone by popping it out by pushing it out through the camera hole. The groove is also to give room for the microphone, but there really is absolutely no reason to have such a big groove for such a small microphone hole.
Now would be a good time to take a look at the white color version and my reason for preferring the one I have now.
Right off the bat, I prefer the black color over the white. Here's why! First, you'll notice that the kickstand is missing on the white model. I do not see why they choose not to keep this consistent, but I would definitely opt-in for a kickstand. Both are $69.99 so why pay the same price to get less when you can get more? The kickstand is quite compact so it really doesn't get into the way of things. As I mentioned that I am quite the commuter, having a kickstand to watch a movie to pass the time is definitely a perk. It sure beats holding my phone in my hand for a couple of hours.
You may also notice that the power panel is still black. The power panel is a separate controller for battery monitor and power toggle. This panel comes with five LED indicator lights and a power button sitting at the bottom right corner. This panel is black and it's just too much work to make an alternative color. I just find a black finish with a black panel than having this mix. However, nevertheless, this option is still available for those that really do wish to have this color mixture.
Battery Operation and Efficiency
I mentioned in the very beginning that one of the features advertised is the additional six-hour talk time. It is important to keep in mind that they decided to to use "talk time" instead of usage time. To me, I will be basing my performance on usage time. My Samsung Galaxy S4 currently is equipped with the standard 2,600 mAh battery provided by Samsung. It takes about an hour and a half to slightly under two hours to charge my phone to full. This is using the 2.1A wall charger provided by Samsung. The battery case has a capacity of 2,100 mAh so theoretically speaking it would take about an hour and twenty minutes or so to charge the battery case. However, it took around one and a half hours as well, which I would say this suggest posts a higher efficiency loss to maybe 30%. Don't take this too negatively as all batteries will have efficiency loss issues, which I actually find affects power banks more than battery cases. Keep in mind that we are also just focusing on the charging time and not the actual performance.
Before we move on to the actual performance of the battery case, let's take a look at my own usage conditions to better understand what we are dealing with. I have data turned on and it is in constant use. E-mail polling is done on an hourly basis. Currently, Facebook Messenger and Twitter are installed and they are on a push notification basis. Other than that, I also have S-Health turned on to track footsteps and then switched over to "workout" mode when I hit the gym for an hour every day or so. GPS is very rarely used, only turned on for maybe ten minutes maximum each day to estimate my commute time. Given my usage conditions, you can have a better understanding of how this battery meets my needs and possibly your needs too.
The battery case is usually activated at about 15% to 20% battery remaining. At this point, I would flip the case over and push the button with the power logo. This isn't so easy to press as the button is part of the whole panel. There isn't any clear isolation or region for the button. After I press the power button, the five LED indicator lights would come on one after another. Since there are five to represent 100%, each indicator light would represent 20% respectively. From this point, I performed two tests.
The first test tested the battery charge time on stand-by mode. This simply tests how long it would take to fully drain the battery case and how much it can charge my Galaxy S4 when it is not in use. A fair approximation of the average time is slightly under four hours and from the 15% to 20% level, it would bring my phone's batter up to about 65%. There was a bit of a fluctuation at this range each time, but it is safe to say you can receive around a 65% charge. To me, this is enough to get you through the day and home to a wall outlet. The second test I did was when the phone was in use. I did my usual tasks such as replying emails, talking on the phone, sending text messages, and surf the web to pass the time. Because of my fairly heavy usage, ended up with a charge of about 30% when the battery case became completely drained.
Conclusion: Should You Get This Case?
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has one of the biggest batteries, but it is also one of the heavier phones in terms of performance. This battery case is great to provide you with a bit of extra power to get you through the day. If you work and find that your phone constantly dies on you on your way home, it is probably a good idea to get this battery case. It will definitely keep your phone alive to continue receiving e-mails, phone calls, and message until you can go home to a power source. If you find your phone dies off mid-day or have multiple devices to charge, a power bank would probably be your best bet. If you would like an in-depth understand of power banks, you can always check it out here.