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Hands-on with the Incipio Offgrid Pro battery case and Atlas ID rugged Touch ID case

Incipio makes some fantastic iPhone cases and two new ones provide extended battery capacity and ultimate protection, both for under $100.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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1 of 27 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Incipio Offgrid Pro and Atlas ID

Incipio has always been one of my favorite iPhone case manufacturers due to their sleek design and functionality. As a person who uses their phone in the field, I was very interested in taking a look at their Offgrid Pro and Atlas ID cases for the Apple iPhone 5s.

The Offgrid Pro provides a unique extended battery solution while the Atlas ID provides advanced protection and the ability to continue to use your Touch ID home button.

Offgrid Pro

In the past I have used Mophie Juicepack battery cases that provide extended battery life for your iPhone. I can't go a full day with my iPhone 5s and need either a battery case or battery pack solution. The new Offgrid Pro for the iPhone 5/5s is an awesome solution that I have been using for a few weeks.

I took a trip to Alaska a couple weeks ago, including remote locations like Homer, Port Lions, and Kodiak and needed the ability to keep my iPhone charged when not close to an outlet. The Offgrid provides 4000 mAh of battery capacity for a reported additional 20 hours of talk time and 100 hours of audio with your iPhone.

You will find a few parts included in the retail package, including the two part Offgrid Pro case, two 2000 mAh Lithium-Ion batteries, an external battery charger, a 3 foot microUSB cable, a 3.5mm headset jack extender, and a screen protector kit. Everything you need is included and in my opinion it is a fantastic value.

The two part case consisted of a back base piece that houses the battery compartment and the control buttons. A rigid plastic frame fits over your iPhone 5/5s and snaps into the back base piece. 

The two removable 2000 mAh batteries are inserted into the back base piece, one at a time, and then your iPhone rests on top of the battery with the Lighting port secured into the bottom of the base piece. When the case is assembled it feels similar to a Mophie, both comfortable and well-designed, with a reasonable amount of added bulk.

You can charge the battery inside the case, via a microUSB port at the bottom of the base, or use the included external charger. With the external charger you can charge up both batteries at the same time so that at least one is ready to go at any time.

You can also use the external charger, with the batteries inserted of course, as a portable battery charger to charge up other mobile devices. I didn't expect this additional functionality, but the folks at Incipio really made this a complete, fully functional solution.

Make sure to remove the small plastic pieces from the bottom of each battery where the connector matches up to the charger. I didn't see this and at first I could not get the case to work.

With your iPhone 5/5s in the case, you can press and hold the front button to toggle the charger on or off. A single press gives you the battery status indicator, up to four blue lights. It takes about 3-4 hours for the batteries to charge up. You will also find openings in the front so that your speaker output is directed up towards you while your iPhone is in the case.

You will also find a couple of screen protectors in the package so you get a decent level of protection with the protector and Offgrid Pro case.

As a traveler, having a solution that lets me use standard microUSB cables to charge up my device and spare batteries is a welcome solution. I love that I can easily swap out batteries and go for at least a full, busy day with this solution. If you are a road warrior then this $99.99 solution is a must have that should serve you well.

Atlas ID

As a professional naval architect, I also find myself crawling around various parts of ships and having a rugged case that provides a more serious level of protection is important. The Atlas ID case from Incipio is designed to provide advanced protection.

I have used Otterbox cases in the past and while most of them offer amazing protection, they are also quite bulky. The Atlas ID doesn't add much bulk at all while also being designed to support using the Touch ID sensor on your iPhone 5s.

The Atlas ID provides protection against water, shock, dirt, and dust. The two piece solution is quite simple and I like the design. You pry open the case, starting at one upper corner, to reveal that most of the case is composed of a front piece with the integrated screen protector and Touch ID sensor.

Simply insert your iPhone 5s into the front piece and then snap one the back piece, lined with rubberized material. You then snap up the bottom piece after inserting the plug into the headphone jack. That's it, everything is now safe and secure.

While I appreciate the ease of installation and level of protection, I found the touchscreen loses quite a bit of functionality along the bottom so that you have to slow down and press diligently on the keyboard to enter text. I also found that the Touch ID part of the front worked just about 30 percent of the time.

If you need ultimate protection, then you may be willing to compromise on these two things. I have gotten used to using Touch ID on the iPhone 5s and personally prefer to give up a bit of this protection for a much more user-friendly device.You can buy the Atlas ID case for $89.99 that also comes with a one-year limited warranty that covers accidental device water damage if you use the case properly. This is quite a warranty and shows that Incipio has faith in the protection of their case.

Further reading

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Contents of Offgrid Pro package

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Back/base piece of Offgrid Pro

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Two 2000 mAh batteries and external charger

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2000 mAh battery pack

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Battery inserted into base unit

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Inserting the iPhone 5s

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Openings in the frame piece

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View of the camera opening

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Bottom view of the Offgrid Pro

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Offgrid Pro in hand

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Back of the assembled Offgrid Pro

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External battery charger

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Headset extension piece

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Atlas ID retail package

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Two pieces of Atlas ID

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Back of the front piece showing the Touch ID sensor

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iPhone 5s inserted into front piece

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Closing up around the case

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Bottom of the Atlas ID

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Bottom closure piece of the Atlas ID

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Atlas ID in hand

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Top front of the Atlas ID

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Controls on the Atlas ID

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Back openings on the Atlas ID

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Using the special 3.5mm headset extension

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Rubberized insides of the Atlas ID back

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