Review: Backbone wireless charging case for iPhone 5/5s
By Nick Lavars
August 8, 2014
With no shortage of wireless charging options for the smartphone, it is getting harder for manufacturers to find a point of difference. Australian company Dog & Bone has unveiled what it says is the world's first shockproof wireless charging case for the iPhone 5. Join Gizmag, as we try the Backbone on for size.
The basic Backbone kit consists of the phone case, a wireless receiver "card" that slots in the back and a wireless charge pad. You also get a screen protector, micro USB cable and an audio extension cable for use with headphones.
The clever modular design also allows for the receiver card to be replaced by a back-up battery (sold separately), which provides additional charge on the go without adding much extra bulk to the case.
Measuring 12.2 mm thick, 138 mm long and 63 mm wide (0.5 x 5.4 x 2.5 in), the Backbone case adds around 3 mm (0.1 in) in thickness and 10 mm (0.4 in) of length to the iPhone 5. The combined weight of the case and receiver card is 60.2 g (2.12 oz), so while the case doesn't add a great deal of bulk to the phone and still feels good in the hand, it is quite hefty.
The Backbone's build quality is excellent. The polycarbonate plastic heart of the case provides rugged protection while a rubber overlay and the pattern on the back (there are two available – Tread or Trilobe) adds a bit of grip as well as a nice aesthetic. The case design leaves the full face of the phone uncovered and doesn't impede access to iOS functions like Toolbox. Protection for the sleep/wake button and volume controls is also nicely executed and speaker performance isn't diminished at all when the case is fitted.
Does the case offer protection for drops from a height of 4ft (1.2 m) fall as claimed? Yes. In our tests, dropping the Backbone onto a tiled floor from this height resulted in a distinct lack of fireworks, explosions, or defunct iPhones.
The drop-and-charge function of the Backbone works just as advertised. Plug the charge pad into a computer or wall adapter via micro USB, place the phone on top ensuring that the small groove on the phone case is aligned with the ridge on the charger and that's it. The pad also has a raised edge to help hold the phone in place.
The bonus here is that the using the wireless pad is faster than plugging the phone in. It's only marginally faster, approximately 4 percent in our tests, but it is faster, and who can argue with that.
Backbone is also Qi compatible which gives it another advantage as Qi wireless charging hotspots become more common.
The 900 mAh back-up battery doesn't pack the punch of some of the other options out there (the Duracell Powermat system has 1950 mAh back-up battery), but it delivers enough to provide your phone with a boost of around 50 percent. This might just prove the difference between having your phone conk out while on the move and going to sleep with a few bars up your sleeve. The real advantage here is its small size and the fact that it slots in in place of the wireless receiver, which means that not much extra bulk is added to your case.
The Backbone is a well built, well designed and versatile charging solution. At AU$119.95 (US$110) for the case and charging pad, plus an extra AU$49.95 for the back-up battery, it costs more than competing solutions like the Duracell Powermat (US$129), but you do get a genuinely rugged, and exceptionally good-looking case for your outlay.
Product page: Dog & Bone