GogoToro’s Chargemander case is more for comfort than battery power

GogoToro's Chargemander case is a pricey battery case, but it looks like a Pokédex

Hunting Pokémon in Pokémon Go requires a smartphone with a hefty battery life, or trainers need to carry around portable battery packs. What if there was a way to keep your phone charged, while looking like Ash Ketchum? GogoToro’s Chargemander is a smartphone case that doubles as a battery, and it’s designed like a Pokédex.

The Chargemander is advertised as being able to charge your phone in record time — up to 16 times faster than standard power banks or cases, and it’s good for 1,200 battery cycles. The case has a lightning connector at the bottom, so you can charge your iPhone and the case at the same time, without needing to carry around a MicroUSB cable. In our GogoToro Chargemander case review, we found the case may be more form over function.

Fast charging, but not evolutionary

The Chargemander comes with a 5,200mAh battery capacity — which is more than other charging cases like the Mophie Juice Pack Ultra with 3,950mAh, or Incipio’s Offgrid Express with 3,000mAh. It’s much bigger than those battery cases, and for its size we expected a higher capacity.

Chargemander iPhone Case Review closed
Brenda Stolyar
Brenda Stolyar

GogoToro claims it’s only supposed to take about 15 minutes to charge the case with the included wall charger, but for us it took more like 30-40 minutes. While it does charge the phone rather quickly, it wasn’t any different than other external battery packs we’ve used. If you’re looking to get the highest battery capacity for your money, you can spend a lot less and get Anker’s PowerCore 20,100mAh battery pack.

Unlike the fire Pokemon Charmander, the Chargemander doesn’t overheat your phone because it uses safeguards to make sure it stops charging when the case is at 100 percent. Instead of using the provided wall charger, which is heavy and can be cumbersome to carry, you also have the option of charging the case with a standard Lightning, MicroUSB, or USB Type-C cable, depending on the model you purchase for the phone you have. That’s one of the positives of the Chargemander — it supports quite a number of phones from the OnePlus 3, and the Samsung Galaxy S5, to the iPhone 7 Plus. Your phone will charge up first, and then the Chargemander will fill up.

The case didn’t die completely after using all its power to charge my iPhone 7 Plus fully — instead it lasted for a few days. How long did it take to fully charge up my phone? About 30 minutes.

Comfortable design, not the most portable

You’ll certainly get some looks using the Chargemander as a case — whether they’re positive or negative will depend, but the iconic Pokédex design is something only a Pokémon fan can appreciate. If you’re super clumsy and you like Pokemon, you can skip the Otterbox and go straight for the Chargemander. The hard exterior shell hides your entire phone entirely, meaning your phone will survive the worst drops and falls.

Pokémon may be pocket-sized monsters, but the Chargemander isn’t.

The front cover of the case folds over to allow for a comfortable hold while gaming or texting, but it will get in the way if you try to take photos or use the augmented reality camera in Pokémon Go. The flap can double as a kickstand, but push it too far back and it will collapse.

Pokémon may be pocket-sized monsters, but the Chargemander isn’t — you’ll have to put it in a bag or carry it in your hand. To start charging your phone through the case, you have to hold the blue power button down for a few seconds. As cool as it looks, this button is huge and sits on the front of the case — if it leans against anything in your bag while on-the-go, it could turn off and stop charging your phone. I made this mistake and only realized when I took out my iPhone and found its battery still at 7 percent. This is a design flaw, and it’s something to be aware of when using the case.

Pressing the volume buttons is a bit difficult — you’ll have the hold down the buttons a little harder than normal. Although there is a small section carved out to access the ring/silent switch, it’s impossible to turn it on or off without taking the phone out from the case. Unlike the Mophie Charge Force case — which requires you to almost lose a hand attempting to remove it — your phone easily slides out of the Chargemander case by pushing the phone out through the cut-out for the camera lens.

The simplicity could be worth the price

At $80, it’s available for both iPhone and Android devices. The price is almost on par with other battery cases.

The Chargemander’s volume buttons are hard to press; you won’t be able to put this in your pocket; the ring/silent switch is impossible to press, and if you flip the cover, you won’t be able to use the camera. But we like how the battery keeps your phone long-lasting, and the design — while bulky — is fun, colorful, and nostalgic.

When I first opened up the Chargemander, I was unsure of whether or not I would be able to endure the weird stares of carrying it around in public. Don’t get me wrong — I love Pokémon Go, but this retro-looking phone case is definitely a lot to take in. Thankfully, the semi-soft material and hinged cover makes you forget it’s a charging case, and provided stickers let you make it look even more like a Pokédex. Sure, you can buy a cheaper battery pack with a higher capacity, or a slimmer battery case you can actually fit in your pocket — but none of those will make you feel more like a Pokémon trainer than the Chargemander Pokédex.