Apple iPhone 3G/3GS owners in search of a charger that allows them to continue Web surfing, checking e-mail, and testing out the latest apps will find much to like in the Case-Mate iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel. This $79.99 accessory will give your device a new shot of life. It's a little heavier than some competing chargers, and takes longer that we'd like to revive a dead iPhone, but its holster design lets you carry your phone on your hip while it supplies the juice.
The iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel, which has a pleasant soft-touch plastic exterior, merges the traditional cell phone holster with a rechargeable battery. Although the 180-degree swivel ratchet allows you to clip the charger onto a belt, you can also slide the 4.4 x 2.0 x 0.5-inch device into a pocket without too much effort. Nevertheless, we also wish you could remove the belt clip. At 3.2 ounces, the iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel is one of the heavier iPhone chargers we've reviewed lately (the Fastmac TruePower iV Universal weighs a bit more at 3.8 ounces), but it has a well-built feel that the Mophie Juice Pack Air lacks. When attached to an iPhone 3G, the combo weighs a relatively hefty 7.9 ounces.
On the lower-right of the holster you'll find a mini-USB port (a cable is included) for charging the battery via USB; on the front of the device (much like the Fastmac TruePower iV and Mophie Juice Pack Air) is an on/off button--a nice touch for a device that's designed to be attached to an iPhone for long periods of time. It took just under two hours to fully charge the iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel, and we were able to monitor the progress courtesy of three LEDs housed in its face: Red indicates that the iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel is charging, orange means that the battery is at the 50 percent mark or lower, and green represents a fully charged device.
Case-Mate rates the Fuel to deliver an extra 9 hours of talk time, 7 hours of Web surfing, 24 hours of audio playback, 8 hours of video playback, and 250 hours of standby time for the iPhone 3G or 3GS. When we connected a dead iPhone 3G to the 3G/3GS Fuel, our device came to life within 15 minutes. That's considerably slower that competing devices such as the FastMac TruPower iV and RichardSolo 1800, both of which got our iPhone up and running in a minute flat. It took 2 hours and 30 minutes to charge the device itself, which was nearly twice as fast as the RichardSolo 1800 (4 minutes and 50 minutes), but slower than the FastMac TruPower iV (1 hour and 50 minutes), Energizer Energi To Go (1 minute and 57 minutes), and Mophie Juice Pack Air (2 hours and 10 minutes)
Like the competition, the iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel fully charged our device in just over two hours. After turning off this accessory and depleting our iPhone's battery, the 3G/3GS Fuel supplied enough juice to charge the iPhone to 50 percent capacity before dying. In other words, you get 1.50 charges. And, although this power is better than the Energizer Energi To Go (1.25 charges) and equal to the Mophie Juice Pack Air, the FastMac TruePower IV charged our iPhone 3G nearly three times.
We wish it revived a dead iPhone faster, but we really like the Case-Mate iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel's sturdy build and holster design. If you're looking for a convenient way to keep your iPhone powered while on the go, the iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel is a fine choice.