Accessory review: Innocell Plus Bundle powered case for HTC EVO 4G LTE
The Seidio Innocell Plus is a protective case for the HTC EVO 4G LTE that contains a 1750mAh removable battery, which can be charged separately or swapped out, and basically gives you about 70% more battery life.
The largest lasting complaint about the HTC EVO 4G LTE has been that the battery is non-removable. While non-removable batteries are significantly thinner, this has meant that – for those wishing to use their phones for any extended periods of time to slam birds into pigs or make phone calls in a basement – they must keep a separate charger handy.
The way the case works is that there is a removable battery included, and in the bundle at least there are two 1750mAh batteries and an external battery charger included, meaning you can hot-swap batteries without ever turning your EVO off, if you so desire. There’s also the Seidio belt holster (every time I see a new incarnation of the holster, I want to tell them to please find me people who actually wear belt holsters any more).
On the back of the case, there are four blue indicator lights and a power button. The power button turns the case on and off – you’ll want to have it off until your EVO is running low on juice, as the upper end of charging seems to drain the external battery a bit more than charging at 60%, which is possibly because the phone trickles at 92-100% and gulps at anything below.
The case itself has excellent back protection. The camera cutout is pretty deep, meaning the camera is not going to be sitting in spilled beer, and if it suffers a drop and lands on the back, chances are it’s going to survive.
I’m not convinced that this has adequate corner protection, as the case seams go along the face plate. I’m a bit worried that a drop might pop the face plate off; however, I’m not in possession of a broken or fake EVO 4G LTE to test my worries out, so they could be unfounded.
Let me tell you what I hate about this case (don’t worry, there’s some love coming up later).
- First off, the USB side port is a cable you plug in. I understand the reasoning for the cable being loose, but I don’t see why there was a requirement to make it stick so far out to the left of the case. The case hangs on the USB port when I put it in my pockets.
- The USB charging port is on the bottom of the case. This makes every Seidio semi-universal dock require the entombed-EVO to stand up to charge, which might not be a problem for some except …
- The bottom USB port is designed in such a way that any Seidio charger I have points the phone in the wrong direction.
- I have six chargers laying about that I’ve tested this on. My phone works perfectly on all of them, my phone in the case fails on two of them. One of them is a powered USB hub for my computer, and it connects and disconnects about three times a second. USB on my computer works fine, however. The other failed charger is a Seidio 1000mAh travel charger from my original EVO 4G.
- The rear of the case contains roughly enough space to fit a couple of 4000mAh original EVO 4G batteries, if you flattened them out a bit. This is a lot of space used for a battery that isn’t even capable of doubling the battery life of the phone.
- The case is heavy. I don’t really consider the weight an impediment, but it should be noted that you could bean someone with this and hurt them.
- To change the battery, you have to remove the case. To remove the case, you need a dime. My fingernails, which have thus far worked for almost every case ever, fail here. If I’m out and need to swap a battery, I don’t want to have to lug around pocket change, as well.
- The power button on the back is too easy to accidentally hit if it’s in your pocket where you’re carrying the other spare battery and a dime to pop the case open.
- There is no kickstand. One of the reasons I want another battery is so that I can watch my movies. Watching my movies really is enhanced by being able to use the kickstand, which Seidio is pretty well known for including in many of their other cases. This is not one of them.
- I’m throwing this one in per reader adam48045, although my case does not seem to have the same problem: “…the volume rocker just doesn’t feel as responsive as you’d like, the rocker doesn’t have much feedback as it comes to what you’d expect from a button press.”
- The volume rocker is not touch-delineated. You can’t press it blind and figure out if you’re pressing up or down easily, as there’s no middle differentiation.
- There is no ability to override the case charge. There should be some way to prioritize that the internal battery gets charged first, and the external second. As it stands, it seems to be a 50/50 thing.
- Charging can take forever.
- Belt clip. I’ve expressed my dislike of the Seidio belt clip before. It’s mainly fashion issue, and it’s designed for something close to a police officer’s belt, but not quite – meaning on my belts, it’s loose.
- The belt clip presses the power button and turns on the screen when you place the phone in the holster.
- The phone can only go in one direction into the holster due to the bottom USB charging port; therefore, you can’t use the belt clip as an improvised kickstand like you can on most other Seidio belt-clips.
- The side USB extension puts the USB port at significantly more risk for damage. What was once unbreakable now has a plug sticking out of the side.
- The charger appears to charge both the internal and external battery completely. When it’s completely full, the case cuts off the juice, and phone then discharges until the case is unplugged and plugged back in. For me, this leads to several hours of battery drain already when I get up in the morning.
- Although I cannot confirm this, it appears that the battery may be blocking my WiFi signal a bit. I seem to be using significantly more battery since putting the case on. It appears to be running at about a 200mAh draw with the screen off, but this may be a condition of cell phone signal.
That was a massive bit of negativity, so let’s move on into the positive.
- Ability to survive in-laws, bad signal conditions, etc., by taking extra batteries.
- Ability to separately charge an external battery, meaning that even if you’re in an area where you’re pulling more than 1000mAh, you can still have another battery charging.
- USB pass through allows you to sync, mount your phone as a drive, use ADB, etc.
- The case does not interfere with most operations of the phone.
- The case does appear to be able to sustain a bit of damage.
- Ability to make up for forgetting to charge the phone last night.
- The belt clip doubles as protective front cover for the screen – if it’s on your belt, which sort of means it’s the 1990’s and you work in IT.
- You can charge as many batteries as you think your phone will require and bring them along. You can also set another device to charge for you and hot swap as desired. I can’t begin to express how useful this one feature is.
- Although I could not test it due to the lack of places near me that support NFC or Google Wallet, NFC is not listed as impeded by this case. Seidio has listed this in the past for other cases, so this is a good sign.
- Seidio is a good company if you ever have a problem. Most people won’t run into this, but as I’ve covered a lot of product on a lot of devices, I have twice had problems now. They’re nice people and easy to work with.
This is the first Seidio product I have reviewed that I would straight out probably not purchase. This is especially sad, because EVO 4G LTE users have begged for something like this for months, and you can tell the quality that went into the manufacturing of the case (seriously, it’s smooth, does what it claims, and would work for most people). But it misses the point of the phone: lightweight, thin, kickstand, don’t carry things for battery.
The bulk of this case, I don’t personally mind. I like big phones. Big phones in my mind equate to phones that you can use for a long time and you don’t lose in your pockets. This feels unnecessarily large, however.
Here’s what I want to see from Seidio to make it my dream case:
- In-line USB port. I know it can be done; there’s no need for a protrusion of that size. Use a plug that’s not connected to the case that is attached via contacts when the case is placed on, and can be removed when you want to not use the case.
- Texture in the case. This is smooth, sleek, and drop-able when your hands are wet. You have other stickier cases, and this is not it.
- Enhancement to the EVO. Kickstands are easy – cut a hole or add one additional and make it a Bluetooth or CDMA antennae.
- For something of this size – and keep in mind this is a lot of bulk added for very little device that I can see – add a wall charger built into the case that fast-charges. If I added up my favorite case, a couple of Seidio batteries, and an HTC standard wall charger, it’s still less than what this weighs. I’d love the ability to be anywhere with an outlet and charge my phone quickly. Imagine that marketing possibility: “Don’t have a charger on you? Not carrying USB wiring? Not a problem.”
- Transport options that are not straight out of 1995. Sorry, the belt clip is done. Black is done. Give some color options. If, for some reason, I need a belt clip (and oddly I do sometimes), I need something that matches the non-Gothic attire I wear. A black case the size of a brick on beige and blue IT nerd attire doesn’t work.
The Seidio Innocell Plus Bundle for the HTC EVO 4G LTE is available from the manufacturer for $99.95.