Prong PocketPlug hands-on: The case of the missing battery

An iPhone case with built-in wall prongs for easy recharging? Sounds cool, but the PocketPlug is a misfire in too many ways.

Prong

Last month I wrote a preview of the Prong PocketPlug , an iPhone case that can plug right into a wall socket. In other words, no more carrying around an AC adapter and charge cable.

I liked the idea, but had a few concerns. Now that I've had a few days to test-plug the PocketPlug, I can safely say that my concerns were justified. In my opinion this is not a good product.

Make no mistake, it works as advertised. Once you've docked your iPhone inside the two-piece plastic housing (which does provide a lot of protection), you simply fold out the two prongs from the back of the case, then plug it into an outlet. Presto, the power flows.

The case also routes speaker audio forward, which is nice for listening to music, playing games, or watching videos while holding the phone. If it's sitting on a flat surface, however, there's little noticeable difference.

So what's the problem? For starters, the PocketPlug is huge. It more than doubles the thickness of my iPhone 4S and adds a good half-inch to the length. That would be more forgivable if it included a supplemental battery, same as most cases of this size and shape. But it doesn't -- not in this iteration, anyway. So ultimately you're getting all the bulk of a battery case with none of the battery.

You're also getting all the price: the PocketPlug costs $59.95 and $69.95 for iPhone 4/4S and 5/5S, respectively. A Galaxy S3 version is still in the works, with pricing TBD.

Another annoying thing about the case: it's nearly impossible to interact with your iPhone while it's charging. A cable may be a hassle to bring along, but at least it lets you use your phone while it's plugged in. If there's a silver lining here, it's that the PocketPlug can be charged this way via an included Micro-USB cable -- though you might say that defeats the whole purpose of having it.

Although the PocketPlug does afford the convenience of plugging into any wall outlet, it's simply too expensive and too bulky. (One can't help wondering why it needs to be as thick as it is.) And because it provides no extra power for battery-challenged phones, I just can't recommend it.

 

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