Battery cases are a quick and easy way of giving your smartphone a big boost in battery life. MOTA offers their own option for the iPhone 5/5s at $99.99 (MOTA | Amazon). Throughout my testing of this case, I’ve had nothing but concerns, and of the many products I’ve reviewed, I’ve never been as disappointed as with this one.
MOTA’s battery case is listed for $99.99 on MOTA’s website and Amazon, although it happens to be on sale on Amazon for $57.99. Included in the packaging is the battery case itself, a micro-USB cable (for charging and syncing), an extra frame (more on that soon), some instructions, a screen protector, and a 3.5mm headset jack extension cable.
The case is said to be MFi (“Made for iPhone”) certified, meaning it’ll have proper compatibility with your iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s, especially if it’s running iOS 7. Other features include a 2,400mAh battery (although the Amazon listing makes mention of it being 2,600mAh, which is incorrect), 4-LED battery capacity indicator as well as a kickstand (which works fine, but is a little hard to get to). Each LED represents 25% battery, so if you see just one LED lit up, you have between 0% and 25% battery. For 2 LEDs, between 25% and 50%, etc. The button to turn the unit on is somewhat stiff, but is rather “clicky.” Press and holding for 1 second will turn the case on, and while on, pressing that button will light up the LEDs so that you can see how much battery life is remaining.
Speaking for design, it’s actually quite nice. You can get the MOTA case in black (with a hint of blue, at least with my unit) or white, with different color frames. Without the frame, your iPhone won’t stay securely into the case. My black case came with a “smoke” frame as well as a clear one, which is what I’ve been using. Removing the frame that’s already installed starts by lifting up, with your fingernail, in the little slit at the bottom of the case, and it’ll unsnap up and away. Putting a new frame on, after sliding in your phone, should start from the top, working your way back to the bottom. There are many points of contact that are used to make sure that things are securely snapped into place. Over time, I noticed this plastic frame producing more noise than at the beginning. This makes me wonder about the longevity of the frames, and how well they’ll deal with a drop.
So, with all of that being said, why would I say that this product was ultimately disappointing?
To start, some of it has to do with the build quality. While the outer portion of the case seems fine, and overall feels solid, it’s what’s inside that has me concerned. From the moment I took the unit out of the packaging, I noticed what sounded like something being loose from within the inside, perhaps the battery. If you apply some pressure on the middle of the inside, it’ll stop, however it eventually came back. You can see what I’m talking about for yourself from my video review above. This could be very discouraging to some, or perhaps dangerous.
MOTA claims that this battery should double the battery life of your iPhone. This includes the use of running it down on its own from 100% to 0%, and then from what the battery case gives you. Unfortunately, I was never able to get more than an 87% charge from this case. And seeing that the 2,400mAh battery is nearly 830mAh more than the iPhone 5s’s internal battery and almost 1,000mAh more than the iPhone 5’s battery, I was a bit surprised. I own a $30 generic battery case that’s just 2,200mAh that I picked up quite a while back from eBay, and it can easily double my battery life while still having plenty left over. What’s worse is that, the more I used the MOTA case, the worse it seemed to get. The first full charge brought my 5s up to 92% from 5%, an 87% charge. The second charge ended in the high 70% range, while the third was in the lower 70% range. At that point, I stopped using the case. Perhaps this is a trend? While I’d hope not, it seems like it’s headed that way.
Lastly, the price. At $99.99, this case would be a very bad buy. While $57.99 on Amazon is a better price, nobody knows if that’s permanent, or if it’s just a temporary sale. Even then, $57.99 is still too high. Add to the fact that this is merely a generic product purchased in bulk from Chinese wholesalers with MOTA’s logo slapped onto the inside sticker, anything more than maybe $40 for this case wouldn’t be considered fair.
I really wanted to like this product, but the fact that it’s overpriced, doesn’t perform well and has some seemingly major quality issues is enough to make me not recommend this to anybody, regardless of price.