Under the Radar

Get iPhone Power & Protection With ibattz


ibattz makes iPhone cases that offer a level of protection not really found in other battery cases. I checked out the Mojo Refuel Armor and the Mojo Refuel Aqua for the iPhone 5/5s and they're both great choices if you're putting your phone in danger on a regular basis. You already know if you're the kind of risk taker who needs one of these, but here's all the details.

iPhones look great naked but anyone who's paid to replace a screen after a three-foot drop doesn't want to leave the house without some kind of protective case. And, while new generations of the phone have brought better software performance and faster speed, those improvements have come at a real cost in battery life (especially when you're using the iPhone in a location with an overloaded network or in a remote area where the phone is constantly scanning for limited service).


(L to R: battery & bumper case, Mojo Refuel Armor and Mojo Refuel Aqua. That's a flotation hand sling up top)

The ibattz cases emphasize protection over style and they deliver on the protection. These things take a bit of effort to use but, once you figure out what you're doing, your phone's going to survive most any situation you throw at it.


Both cases feature a removable battery and a silver bumper case that you can use when you don't need the extra protection and can skip the bulk. That setup is sold by itself as the Mojo Refuel Battery Case and has a $74.95 list price. That price is right in line with similar battery cases. All ibattz cases offer a removal battery, which allows you to replace a dead battery for $19.95 without replacing the entire case. Some heavy users might want to order an extra as a backup battery: they cost $15 if you add it on when you order the case.

The Armor case retails for $15 more ($89.95) and adds a plastic faceplate with a clear screen protector and a rubberized outer case. This thing is a beast: it's bulky and heavy but it does a great job of protecting a phone from drops and dust and a reasonable job of preventing water damage from splashes or heavy rain.

One you get the case onto the phone, it's really tough to get off. That's not a downside if you need a case like this one. There's a loop on the corner of the case so you can attach a lanyard if you're carrying your iPhone to places where you risk a big drop.

Downsides? You can't use the iPhone 5s Touch ID system with this case, but a reasonable person should realize that you're not going to prevent dirt and dust damage if you leave that button exposed. Also, the case comes with the instructions inside the protective case. It took about half an hour to figure out how to pry the rubber cover away from the case. If you just go for it when you open the box and attack the rubber case with a flathead screwdriver, it's going to hold up just fine.

If you buy the Refuel case first, you can go back and upgrade to the Armor case later for $24.95 but the smart buy is to go with the Armor case up front.


If you're around a lot of water, the Aqua case aims to keep your iPhone safe from a drop in the lake. It's a bear to get your phone into the case but, once you've got it locked in, it delivers. After testing it out empty, i tried it out with phone installed and mine survived a good long dunk in the tub with zero moisture inside the case. If you're worried about water, the Aqua offers a lot of protection. At $119.95, it's at the expensive end of the scale for a phone case, but you can't repair an iPhone that's been fried by water and that's a lot less expensive than buying a new phone.

The case has a clear opening for the camera, but you're still sacrificing image quality to keep your device dry. There's even a $19.95 flotation hand sling option to keep your phone from sinking to the bottom if you insist on taking it into the water with you.

If you use an Android phone, ibattz as a good selection of external battery chargers but the Aqua protective case is limited to the current iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5, although you can get an earlier version of the Armor case for a iPhone 4 or 4s

The Armor case is a great deal if you're putting your iPhone in harm's way on a regular basis. The extra battery power and alternate bumper option make it a flexible choice as well. If you need the extra water protection, the Aqua case is the only waterproof case we've seen that also includes the extra power. They're not sleek or any kind of fashion statement, but they're incredibly good at providing that extra level of protection if that's what you need.

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