I take a look at the EnerPlex Surfr battery case for the iPhone 5/5s with a built-in solar charger.
For the past few years, I have used a battery case for my iPhone. Ever since I bought an iPhone 3GS back in 2012, I have used a Mophie Juice Pack. However, when looking for a new battery case for my iPhone 5, I decided to check out an EnerPlex Surfr.
Battery cases may detract from the gorgeous design of your iPhone and add serious bulk to your device – but it adds excellent protection and, of course, extra battery life while on the go.
EnerPlex specialise in solar power and portable power equipment. They do make a selection of Surfr cases, the Surfr for iPhone 5/5s, Surfr for iPhone SE (although both fit all three handsets), Surfr for iPhone 6/6s, and the Surfr Amp for iPhone 6/6s. I think they previously made cases for the iPhone 4/4s, but these are now discontinued.
Fitting your iPhone in this EnerPlex Surfr battery case is very easy. The case comes in two halves. Slide the phone in the bottom half and covering the lightning connector of the phone, then simply add the top section and thats it. You phone is now totally enclosed.
Build & Feel
Both sections slid together well, and once together, this Surfr felt well built and strong enough to take a fall without breaking. It has a rubbery texture around the whole case with a rim running around it. In the hand this texture gives it excellent grip.
Despite adding quite a bit of bulk to the phone, the Surfr fits well in the hand and the trouser pocket. Obviously you know it’s a lot bigger, but I prefer this. I have used a power case for so long that it feels odd using a phone on its own. Bulk-wise it is around the same size and weight as the Mophie Juice Pack Plus.
Around The Case
The right side has nothing on it, with the left side rehousing the volume and silence buttons and the top rehousing the power/lock button.
The bottom has a Micro USB charging socket plus charging indicator lights as well as the on/off button. The Micro USB socket seems very sturdy. When the cable is plugged in, there is no wiggle room at all. The bottom also has a hole for the earphones to be plugged in. The recess is quite deep, which can make plugging your earphones in quite difficult – however, this is true with most battery cases.
The camera cutout on the back is quite recessed. This really gives you an idea of just how thick the Surfr is – but it doesn’t interfere with the camera or flash functions.
The back also features the solar panel, with the front featuring the speaker/mic grills. As it covers the bottom, it reroutes these to the front, which is quite handy.
Turning the Case On
To charge the case/phone, you plug in a Micro USB charger. To activate the built-in battery pack, you hold down the bottom button for 5 seconds – you will hear your iPhone bleep to indicate it is charging. Turning it off is done by holding down the button for 5 seconds again.
Pressing the button quickly will show how much charge is left in the EnerPlex Surfr. Each blue LED represents 20% charge. When in direct sunlight, the first LED will glow red to show the case is charging via solar panel.
One thing I noticed is, while on charge the blue lights flash permanently. This is a little annoying when charging at night. Early Mophie Juice Packs did the same, but it was later changed to only glowing for a minute or so and then going off.
One thing that seperates this battery case from most others is its built-in solar panel. According to the FAQ, the solar charger is more of an emergency. 1 hour of direct sunlight will give you enough for a 10 minute phone call – a full charge via the panel could take 24-36 hours.
The solar panel is a nice addition, but for real on-the-go charging the Surfr is fitted with a 2000 mAh battery. This is enough to fully charge your iPhone from completely drained and still have a little bit left over – or go from 20% to 80% twice.
As a die-hard Mophie fan, I was a little dubious about switching from such a well known brand. However, EnerPlex offer a solid, well built, well designed alternative. I have to admit the geek in me bought it partly due to the solar panel on the back. Using it for a short period, I am very pleased with it.
It has a square feel, which I prefer, and the whole design and look of it is very impressive – and the solar panel on the back is already a talking point.
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