This Modular iPhone Case Does Portable Charging Right

Charging an iPhone on the go typically requires a charging case, a mobile power supply or (in the case of one friend of mine) carrying a cord and power adapter. None of those solutions are convenient. This is where the modular 360° Speed Case ($100, supports the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus and 6s Plus) from Stacked, comes in handy. I got to test one of these cases with my iPhone 6 Plus and found it convenient, but not exactly perfect.

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Photo: Sam Rutherford

The 360° Speed Case beats battery cases such as those from Mophie in terms of size, because since it doesn't carry its own battery, it's much slimmer and less disruptive to your pocket. You charge your phone by attaching the included battery pack to the circular magnetic port on the back of the 360° Speed Case, so you only thicken the case when you need to. 

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The battery pack fits into the small "fifth pocket" in my pants, so that's where I kept it, prompting strangers to ask if I owned two phones. You charge that battery by connecting its circular magnetic port to the AC wall charger that comes included in the $100 bundle. All three pieces can be stacked (get it!) on top of each other for charging at night, but more on that later.

The case offers a grippy feel that makes it about as easy to hold as what I get with the standard Apple leather case I typically use. The 360° Speed Case covers up the bottom of the phone and connects to the lightning port, but that's not a big deal, as audio sounds good coming out of the Stacked case's plastic speaker grills, where the sound is redirected through.

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Those who use 3.5-millimeter jack-based headphones can still connect them to the port, but you'll need the small extension dongle that the Stacked case comes with, as the bottom of the case makes it harder to reach that port.

I tested the 360° Speed Case and its battery while keeping up with the third presidential debate on Twitter, as excessive use of the Tweetbot client is when I burn through my battery the fastest.

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I attached the battery pack to the case when my iPhone 6 Plus's battery was down to 10 percent, and watched as the pack kept my handset alive. Curiously, my iPhone seemed to run off of the connected battery, rather than replenish its own charge, as its charge reading got as high as 19 percent during the debate, and stayed there.

The pack did a fine job of keeping my iPhone alive and streaming hilarious memes and fact-checks, but 45 minutes into the debate, I realized a downside to the Stacked case. The bulge on its back made me need to stretch when using it one-handed, as I'm so accustomed to doing.

To use the 360° Speed Case one-handed and still have some mobility with my thumb required that I grip the battery pack with a couple of fingers, which briefly disrupted the connection. My hand also felt a little strained after holding the phone with battery pack for most of the 90-minute debate.

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Photo: Sam Rutherford

The battery pack kept my iPhone charged throughout the entire show, and replenished up to 37 percent by the time I woke up in the morning. The power pack offers 2,000-mAh of battery life, which is a little over two-thirds of my iPhone 6 Plus's 2,915-mAh battery, so it should keep your phone alive when you're running low at night.

Ideally, you're supposed to charge your iPhone and its Stacked battery together at night, as the magnets allow the three pieces to be simultaneously connected. Unfortunately for me, I don't have many spare outlets with enough free space around them for all items to be plugged in at once, and using all three at once required me to unplug some of my other devices.

If you happen to have an extra microUSB 2.0 cable lying around, you can charge the battery pack by connecting it to the USB port on the wall charger or any other power supply. But since the 360° Speed Case uses your iPhone's lightning port, you're likely going to want to connect all three pieces at once to charge them overnight.

I'm not sure if I'll keep on using it, as I've got few outlets that work well for this charging process and I'm already heavily invested in Apple's ecosystem of AC adapters and lightning cables. It's a nifty idea, but maybe it's not right for everyone.