Review: Case-Mate Fuel Case for iPhone 3G/3GS

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One of the biggest gripes a lot of iPhone 3G/3GS readers have is battery life. Now this is mainly due to not being able to put the iPhone down to give it a rest, but we now have another solution to your iPhone addiction. Enter Case-Mate's Fuel Case for iPhone 3G/3GS, which is available in TiPb's store for $77.95. For a full review, follow us after the break!

Design & Usability

The Case-Mate Fuel Case for iPhone 3G/3GS is integrated with a 2300mA Lithium Polymer battery, Case-Mate says it will add up to nine hours of additional talk-time, up to seven hours of internet browsing, up to eight hours of video, 24 hours of audio, and 250 hours of extra standby time.

The times that Case-Mate claims are pretty much dead on. If you have trouble putting your iPhone down and typically end up with a dead battery sometime during the day, Fuel is the right case for you.

Usually when I get into my car after a full day at work I would have 20%-30% of my battery left. With the Fuel I've been leaving with anything from 80% to being topped off and that's still with some juice left in the case itself. Not too shabby. I think it's also important to note that you do not need to remove the phone from the case to use the iPhone in any way, including phone calls.

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On the bottom front of the case you will find 3 built-in LEDs that allow you to see exactly how much "Fuel" you have left and a power button that allows you to turn the charger on or off as you see fit. Both of these are nice little bonus features.

To charge the case you only have one option -- you must use a standard 5-pin USB cord. One is included but it would be nice to have the option to charge the case without using my laptop. On the plus side, Fuel fully supports syncing while iPhone 3G is docked into the case.

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One nice features Fuel has that other iPhone charging cases lack is a belt clip that rotates 180-degrees. This sounds great but unfortunately Case-Mate dropped the ball on this one. I found myself worrying about the lack of protection on the upper half of my iPhone and the screen. Since you have to place the iPhone face-out, the screen is left completely unprotected. This means you have to be careful not to bump into anything or you will damage your device.

So, the next possibility would be to place the phone in your pocket. There's only one thing wrong with that -- the belt clip is not removable. Granted it still would be a tight fit without the clip due to the added size it gives the iPhone, but the option would still be better.

As to the belt clip itself, it does it's job well. Rest assured, your iPhone is locked in place and will not fall out on you.

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Conclusion

Even with the complaints about the belt clip, I still like this case. The pros outweigh the cons by far. I found myself using the case at work around my desk and at home when I was lounging around. Even though the size adds to the iPhone it still feels good in the hand while using it.

Overall the Case-Mate Fuel Case for iPhone 3G/3GS does it's job and it does it very well. Since Apple chooses not to make the iPhones battery replaceable companies like Case-Mate have stepped up and offered us some solutions. For $77.95 you can't go wrong with this one, Fuel will give your iPhone the boost it needs to easily make it through your entire day and, in some cases, days.

Pros

  • Battery life as advertises.
  • Feels good in the hand
  • Reasonable price
  • Ability to sync while your iPhone is in the case
  • Works with the new iPhone 3GS

Cons

  • Lack of screen protection
  • Belt clip is not removable
  • Case only chargeable v only by micro USB

4 star rating

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Jeremy

Community editor. Tech enthusiast. All-around geek.

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Reader comments

Review: Case-Mate Fuel Case for iPhone 3G/3GS

23 Comments

I like the fact that it is 2300mah but that clip is a deal breaker. I chose the MiLi powerpack instead. It's 2000mah and has a USB out to charge other devices.

I dont agree with this "One of the biggest gripes a lot of iPhone 3G/3GS readers have is battery life."
My battery life is amazing on the 3Gs, and it has not even been a week yet, usually they get even better after 2 weeks.
I can't imagine it being better then it is now, i watching 10 tv episodes a Day while im at work doing work, i keep it off to the side playing tv shows. and By the time the DAY is overwith i have 60% battery life left.

@iPhoneMilk, while I agree with you and have no issue personally with the battery... many people do. :(

@iPhoneMilk
You see 10 episodes and you still have 60% left of batterie?
I've used it so far for 1hr and 26 min and I have 64% batterie left.
and I just use it to txt and read blogs, if I played like 4 episodes I'd prob
had to charge my phone.
Does anyone else have great batterrie life? Seems like my new 3GS has worst batterie life than my old 2G iPhone!

@JoJo10040
Yes I do a ton on it, i even play games and last night get this... I stayed up all night long and went to the Midnight showing of Transformers 2 and got home around 3:00am. While i was there i recorded video of how HUGE the line was.
This was all on the same day without charging it.
My advice to you my friend is to WAIT it out for about a week, if things dont change maybe , and it is possible you just got a bad fruit out of the crop. It happens.. it's just bad luck.
Take it back to Apple and let them know.
But yes... the battery life im experiencing right now is even better then the 3G and I have not hit the 2 week mark, which usually the battery life improves at that point.
Well at least thats' what happened to me with the 2G and the 3G

@Jojo10040, try turning down the brightness of the screen. That, to me, seems to be the biggest factor in how long the battery lasts.
@Jay .. if you get more than a day's worth, what's wrong with simply plugging it in overnight?
Seems to me that as long as you can make it through a day, you have all the battery you will ever need.

@Waterswest
I think Jay was Joking because yes more then a days worth is what we get, and that's A lot =)
I think he was being sarcastic hehe

I was getting only 6 to 8 hrs with my 2g iPhone. Now getting 12 to 14 hrs with the same normal daily use, much improved battery. The day will come it will last days or weeks only a matter of time.

I was getting only 6 to 8 hrs with my 2g iPhone. Now getting 12 to 14 hrs with the 3GS same normal daily use, much improved battery. The day will come it will last days or weeks only a matter of time.

My battery life has been alright so far, although i think I'd have to buy this Case-Mate in the near future. We'll see how my unit 3G S goes. Nice review on the case...mate! :-)

i'm sorry, but i'd rather charge it at work with a comp, or in the car with a charger. that is a horrendous case and battery. no protection for the phone, seems akward, and frankly i'd feel stupid putting that big thing up to my face to make a call.

I'm finding the 3gs very slow to charge via the new smaller wall charger, takes about as long as charging via pc/usb, i.e. very slowly. My old 3g charger used to be twice as fast as the new one. Infact the fastest way I have to charge it now is my incar charger, I noticed yesterday how fast that was compared to the wall charger. Anyone else noticing slow recharge speed with 3gs wall charger?

"To charge the case you only have one option — you must use a standard 5-pin USB cord. One is included but it would be nice to have the option to charge the case without using my laptop."
I've never heard the term "5-pin USB" so I don't know how 'standard' that is - if it's just a standard USB connector, the 3G/3Gs comes with a USB/wall plug adapter so you can plug it in anywhere, not just via a computer.
I wouldn't recommend plugging it in at work, to keep it charged - that's probably bad for the battery - but you can REcharge it an hour before leaving work...

The one bad thing I've heard from friends who use this (and other "Juicepacks") is that your internal battery never gets run down, and has a tendency to totally screw up the internal charge measuring circuit.
If they don't run their internal down till it power's off and recharge fully once in a while, the Charge measuring circuit starts shutting down the phone prematurely as soon as you start drawing on the internal battery.
Apple recommends you discharge fully once a month or so to retrain the charge measuring circuit.
(No, this is not a battery "memory" issue. Iphone batteries are not susceptible to that, and battery "memory" is largely fiction when you really dig into it past what you read on the monkey-hear monkey-say internet.)

@icebike
The Mophie Juice Pack Air has a switch. When you're phone is about to die, you flip it and it fills your battery.
I just ordered one and then I saw this blog and hoped that I went with the right one.. but it seems like I did. Juice Pack Air FTW!

A few quick comments. # 1, lightest batt pack around. Resembles several holsters. Largest batt (2300 mah), lithium-ion polymer. Polymer very important, higher density, holds chg longer!!
Notice power on/off button, if you want to run iPhone batt down & then turn power on. Charge by plugging USB into iPhone wall charger or if you have ATT cig lighter charger, has USB outlet on top of charger plug-in. Or the Griffin charge kit from W/Mart includes cig plug-in with USB outlet. Best on market. $58. on eBay, new in pkg, delivered, no tax 

I loved the case-mate for the first day, used it once and now it will not work at all. The 3Gs battery does last a lot longer than the 3G did.