Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Third Rail Slim Case and Battery Review

We live in a very busy world.  A non-stop-up at dawn, sleep maybe, type of world.  While we're awake, we are constantly glued to our smart phones...well if you're anything like me and millions of others, you are.  Email, facebook, tweeting?  How many times have you needed more juice from your phone?  Like a bazillion times, amiright?

Well, there are also about a bazillion options out there, we've had a few in our offices as well, but we have had the chance of checking out Third Rail's solution to the mobile energy crisis for a few weeks now, and though they do some things right, there are a few missteps as well.

What's unique in Third Rail's case, is not a case/battery combination, where the battery is installed into a thicker case.  It's actually two pieces.  There's a Slim case, made from a rubberized matte material, which feels really nice to the touch.  I actually hate/avoid putting a case on my iPhone, but I didn't mind having this on.  It adds minimal thickness, but it does add some to the height of the phone, as there's a 30-pin connection on the bottom that allows it to sync to the phone.  You can buy just the slim case, though not sure why you'd want to without having the battery.  The real draw here would be the kit, that includes the case, the external battery, and cables to support them all.  This allows you to just throw the battery on when you need to suck up a bit of juice.

There are some pros and cons here, so before you go rushing out, here us out.


  • Low-profile case design allows for minimal distraction of intended iPhone design.
  • Smart Battery that can be charged separately from phone
  • Smart Battery is also useable on many other devices using included USB adapter
  • Smart Battery has 5 LED indicators showing charge remaining
  • Only supplies about 60% charge to iPhone 4 in tests
  • Smart Battery adds significant bulk when in use, and doesn't add much in the aesthetic department.
  • Smart Battery attaches somewhat too loosely and can pop off really easily
Overall, it's a solid product, that meets many demands.  We only wish there were some larger battery capacities available, as we only ever got about 60% charge added to our iPhone 4 in multiple tests.  Increase the capacity, and slightly alter the design to allow the battery to fit more securely and not pop off in our pocket and you got yourself a viable option for your dollar.  

One other thing to mention, this is currently only fitted for the iPhone 4/4S, and with the expected next-generation iPhone due out in the next few months, (with an expected different physical design) you may want to hold out to see if ThirdRail will have a new system or even the Slim Case available, where we can still use our batteries.  As I write that, it just dawns on me - it'd be super easy for them to re-design the new slim-case to fit any new device, but you won't necessarily need to buy a whole new system/battery.  This is a great plus for ThirdRail - we are definitely looking forward to what's in store for them next.

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