For the past week, I’ve had the pleasure of testing out Case-mate’s popular Fuel for the iPhone 4. In the past, I’ve used Case-mate’s Fuel line of products before in which I had used the Fuel battery pack holster on my previous BlackBerry Bold 9000 that I owned. I had a pretty good experience with that holster so I figured I’d give the Fuel a try on my iPhone 4. I got into contact with Case-mate and had them send me over their new Fuel Lite to try out. The case itself is no different from the regular Fuel Max case except that it uses a slightly smaller 1020 mAh instead of the 2000 mAh battery found in its bigger brother. All this means is that it provides about half the amount of extra battery life than the regular Fuel Max. This also means that the Fuel Lite is about $40 cheaper than the Fuel Max.

Unlike my old Case-mate Fuel for the BlackBerry Bold, this one is actually a case and not just a holster. Because it’s a case, it means that when you have it on, your iPhone 4 is a gigantic beast of a phone. The iPhone 4 goes from being the thinnest phone  to the fattest and heaviest phone in the world. If you’re the type to choose form over function, the Fuel definitely isn’t for you. It’s far from pretty, but function wise, you will not find a better case.

The Fuel Lite includes all of the following features:

  • Recharges the iPhone 4 on-the-go with a battery capacity up to 1020 mAh
  • Black impact resistant, flexible plastic shell
  • Completely encases and protects the iPhone 4, including corners
  • Access to all ports and controls
  • Includes micro-usb cable to charge and sync
  • iPhone 4 screen protection kit included
  • Power on/off button and LED lights to indicate charge levels make for optimal efficiency
  • Talk Time: Up to 4 additional hours beyond standard iPhone battery life
  • Internet Use: Up to 4 additional hours beyond standard iPhone battery life
  • Video Playback: Up to 5 additional hours beyond standard iPhone battery life
  • Audio Playback: Up to 20 additional hours beyond standard iPhone battery life
  • Standby Time: Up to 240 additional hours beyond standard iPhone battery life

The Fuel Lite encases the entire iPhone 4 in heavy duty plastic that is coated in a soft touch material. The case is a 2 piece set where you slide the iPhone 4 into the bottom piece and then slide the top on to finish it off. The battery itself is part of the case so it’s not really a part you can replace if you needed to. Basically if the battery ever completely fails, you just have to buy another one. On the underside of the case, there are 4 LED lights that indicate the amount of charge left in the battery. A very nice touch as this is easier to determine how much charge is left as opposed to my old Fuel that just blinked different colors.

Fitment wise, the Fuel Lite fits like a glove. The iPhone 4 fits nice a snug and once in, it does not wiggle around at all. All the openings allow perfect access to all the ports and the phone can still be charged and synced using the included Micro USB cable. Both the iPhone 4 and Fuel Lite can be charged at the same time.

Even though the Fuel Lite makes the iPhone 4 into a hulking beast, I actually don’t mind the extra weight and size. The added size makes the iPhone 4 a bit easier to hold especially when using it as a camera. It makes it feel almost like a real digital camera now thanks to the increased size and weight. Using it as a phone isn’t bad either and the increased size doesn’t make it any harder to type one handed with. It does make it a bit less pocket-able however especially for those who wear slimmer fitting jeans and pants. It fit fine in my back pocket but was a bit tight up front.

There are a couple of things I do not like about the case however and they are really just minor annoyances. First off, I really dislike the micro USB jack that the Fuel Lite uses. I would have preferred if Case-mate chose to use the more popular Mini USB jack as I have tons of those cables and almost all the rest of my devices use that. Now I have to carry an extra cable with me on business trips. I’m also not a big fan of soft touch cases. In my experience, the soft touch coating doesn’t stand up to heat and humidity that well and more often times than not, the soft touch coating will come off after a while. Now, I’ve only had the Fuel Lite for a week so I can’t say how long it will last or if it will even rub off. It’s just a small concern that I have based on past experiences. Other than that, there aren’t any major issues that I can complain about with the Fuel Lite.

For anyone looking for a case that will not only protect their iPhone 4 while providing a few extra hours of battery life, the Fuel Lite is for you. It works as promised and does recharge your iPhone 4 as you use it. The case offers full protection for your iPhone 4 on all 4 sides and the back and comes with a screen protector as well. I think I’ll be using the Fuel Lite now as my everyday case as the benefit of a few extra hours really helps me get through the day without having to plug in during the day for a small recharge.

Case-Mate’s Fuel Lite is available now on their website for $59.99.

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