Review: The Enduro Mini battery case for the iPad mini is a letdown

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The Enduro Mini is a $60 iPad mini case from Padacs. The case includes a built-in battery for recharging the iPad—and the battery is no slouch: It’s an 8000 milliamp hour battery, which offers about 125 percent the battery life of the iPad mini itself, so you can more than fully recharge the tablet with the case.

I reviewed a black Enduro Mini, though the case is also available in pink and blue. The folio-style case is made of stitched leather. The battery is hidden within the case’s cover. You snap the iPad mini into the case by firmly pushing the corners of the tablet into the four grips on the case.

The Enduro Mini uses a magnet to make its fabric latch adhere to the closed case. There’s also a magnet in place to trigger the iPad’s built-in sleep/wake feature, but it’s a bit fussy. You need to position the case’s cover carefully to ensure that it puts your iPad mini to sleep. I find it’s easy to close the case without the magnet lining up perfectly, leaving the iPad mini awake.

The back of the case includes a cutout for the rear-facing camera. The corner grips cover the sleep/wake button, so you need to curl your finger a bit differently to reach it, but it doesn’t present any difficulty.

Across the bottom of the case sits an input jack, four LEDs for indicating battery life, an On button, and a Micro-USB output jack.

You’ll note that at no point have I described how the Enduro Mini battery case plugs into your iPad mini’s Lightning port. That’s because it doesn’t. Instead, you need to use the included, proprietary USB cable that plugs into the input jack to charge the case. (You plug the USB end into a computer or USB charging adapter you provide.)

And then you use the included Micro-USB adapter, into which you also plug your own Lightning cable, with the Lightning end of the cable plugged into your iPad mini.

If you’re traveling with the Enduro Mini, you’ll need to tote around a total of three cables: the proprietary charging cable, the Micro-USB adapter, and your Lightning cable. When you’re actually using the Enduro Mini to charge, you’ll have a pair of white cables snaking between the case and your iPad mini.

There’s a single plus to this approach: You can use the Enduro Mini to charge other USB accessories, which an integrated Lightning connection would potentially preclude.

There are numerous downsides: The need to carry the extra cables with you, the awkward look and setup of stringing the two cables together to charge the iPad, and the ever-present risk of losing one or two of the necessary cables for charging the case or your iPad.

The charging setup isn’t the only disappointment I encountered with the Enduro Mini: It’s also a mediocre case. There’s the fussiness of the cover positioning to trigger the sleep/wake feature. Then there’s the fact that the case only folds into a single usable angle, one about 20 degrees off vertical—decent for viewing, sure, but no use for typing. And then there’s the case’s considerable thickness and heft; it’s about 1.25 inches thick, 6 inches wide, and 8.25 inches tall, and more than doubles the weight of the iPad mini. (The case weighs 0.93 pounds without the iPad mini, which itself weighs just 0.68 pounds.)

Bottom line

I love battery cases and the extra freedom they afford, particularly when traveling. But the Lightning-less approach employed by the Enduro Mini feels dopey. I don’t need more proprietary cables to keep track of, and I don’t want to run cables between my iPad mini and its case when the former needs a charge. Couple those issues with the fact that, battery aside, the Enduro Mini is merely an okay case, and it’s tough to recommend.

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