Dog & Bone Backbone wireless charging case, pad and Backbone battery review

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We have posted news articles here on The Gadgeteer about multitasking phone cases before. To be honest I have been enamored by a few, but in the end I have to ask myself “would I really use this in the real world”? In most cases I would have to say no, the gadgets or gimmicks just don’t seem practical or the size and weight of the case makes it clunky to use. The Backbone wireless charging case from Dog & Bone, an Australian company, is one that I hope hits the nail on the head for usefulness and practicality.

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I mentioned multitasking iPhone cases and the Backbone wireless charging case is just that, but for more reasons than you may think. Besides being a phone case for my iPhone 5 with a wireless charging adapter, the Backbone is designed with a modular component that allows you to change it out for other components like a backup battery.

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The folks at Dog & Bone sent me the whole kit and kaboodle to test (a note here, the Backbone wireless charging case can be purchased with or without a wireless charging pad. I was sent the Backbone with the wireless charging pad) which included the following:

  • Backbone case
  • Screen protector
  • Audio cable
  • USB connector
  • Charge pad

The case itself comes with the following:

  • Backbone case
  • Screen protector
  • Audio cable
  • USB connector

The Backbone case and Charge pad have the following features listed from the Dog & Bone web page:

Backbone wireless charging case

  • For phone model: iPhone 5s/5
  • Compatibility: Qi standard
  • Quality parts and materials: Made for iPhone certified
  • Military durability testing: MIL STD 810F approved to help withstand knocks and drops to 4feet (1.2M)
  • Screen protection: Slightly raised rim for screen protection and a toughened scratch resistant screen protector included
  • Size:  138.2mm (5.44″) H x 63.3mm (2.49″) W x 12.2mm (.48″})D
  • Weight: 30g {1.05 oz} case + 30.2g (1.06oz) Backbone piece = 60.2g (2.11oz)
  • Patterns: Tread and Trilobe
  • Colours: Tread orange, Tread blue, Tread pink, Trilobe blue, Trilobe red
  • Battery: Swap case receiver for Backbone battery (available separately) for added power – all without removing your Backbone case

Backbone charge pad:

  • For phone model: iPhone 5s/5
  • Compatibility: Qi standard
  • Quality parts and materials: Made for iPhone certified
  • Size: 139.27mm (5.48″) H x 64.37mm (2.53″) W x 12.8mm (.50″) D
  • Input: DC5V, 1,500mA
  • Standard Backbone mobile charging time: 2 hours (less than a standard cable charge, which takes 2hours 20mins)

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The case of the Backbone is actually comprised of two pieces, the case which is made of rubber and polycarbonate, provides decent protection and the removable charging receiver. I will discuss the charging receiver further down in the review.

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The top of the case has an on/off button that is easy to depress. The button gives minor tactile feedback and an audible click when depressed.

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The left side of this case has a cutout for the mute slider and covered volume + and – buttons. Like the on/off button, these give minor tactile feedback and an audible click when depressed. The right side of the case has no features.

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The bottom of the Backbone, as you will see later from the front view picture is bit longer than the phone itself. It has a cutout for the speaker and the headphone jack (you must use the provided audio cable in order to use the headphone jack). As you can see, with the charging receiver in place your iPhone can be charged using any standard USB to Micro USB cable. This is one feature of the Backbone I think a lot of people will appreciate. Being a traveler and having forgotten my Lightning cable on occasion the ability to charge my iPhone with a USB to Micro USB cable (a common standard for most phones not produced by Apple) can be a life saver.

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With the charging receiver out of the case you can plug-in your Lightning cable to use it to charge. Although the bottom of the iPhone is recessed you can still easily insert the cable.

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The back of the Backbone has a cut out for the camera, flash and mic. You can get a sense of how thick the case is by looking at the depth of the cutout for the camera. I do not find it too bulky though. On the back in this photo you can see the charging receiver with the Dog&Bone name on it.

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The charging receiver is the heart of the Qi feature of the Backbone case. The charging receiver not only works with the available (in my case included) charging pad but is also compatible with other Qi charging stations. Qi charging stations have become more available as the technology has caught on so having this feature for the iPhone is great. The charging receiver has a Lightning connector to plug into your iPhone and a Micro USB port to charge your phone with.

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The front of the case is slightly longer at the bottom of the case than the iPhone itself. At the bottom there are two holes to help let the sound from the speakers come through.

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The charging pad for the Backbone system is just slightly larger than the phone and case itself. The front of the charge pad has ridges to keep the case in place, the Dog & Bone name and a protruding bar that aligns with a notch in the rear of the Backbone to help make sure the case is place correctly on the charge pad.

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The back of the charge pad has the charge pad information and a cutout at the top to plug-in the USB to Micro USB cable into it.

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The top of the charge pad has the cutout for the USB to Micro USB cable. The bottom and the sides have no real features to them.

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When sitting on the charge pad the iPhone and Backbone case fit securely with very little overlap from the charge pad. The pad is designed to have the bottom of your phone orientated to the bottom of the pad and the raised notch makes sure the phone is positioned correctly. When the phone and Backbone case is placed on the charge pad the phone lights up showing your phone is charging.

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As I stated earlier in this review the Backbone iPhone case is designed as a modular system with the first swappable module being the Backbone Battery, an emergency back up battery. To use the Backbone Battery all you need to do is remove the charging receiver from the back of the phone case and replace it with the battery pack. When fully charged the Backbone Battery gave me a 48% charge to my iPhone’s battery. As you can see the battery does add some bulk to the back of the Backbone case when attached but it did not seem too bad size or weight wise when in use. A nice feature of the Backbone Battery is that it can be charged while it is on the phone using the USB to Micro USB but not using the charge pad.

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The only real distinguishable feature of the batteries front, sides, top and bottom is the Micro USB port for charging the battery and a small hole holding a LED to let you know when the battery is charging

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Besides the battery pack the Backbone Battery comes with a USB to Micro USB cable. The Backbone Battery has the following specifications from the Dog & Bone web page:

For phone model: iPhone 5s/5

  • Capacity: 900 mAh
  • Size: 77.3mm (3.04″) H x 36.2mm (1.42″) W x 15.5mm (.61″) D
  • Weight:
  • Battery: 30.7g (1.08 oz)
  • Case with battery: 60.7g  (2.14 oz)

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When being charged the blue LED next to the Micro USB port lights up. When your battery is charged the LED light goes out. The battery can be charged on or off of you iPhone.

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With all the different components of the Backbone system I have to break my review into a couple of different parts so please bear with me if it seem kind of long. I found the Backbone case itself to be a decent iPhone case but that in itself would not get me to buy it. That being said the addition of the charging receiver in my mind is a game changer. With more and more Qi hot spots popping up having the ability to charge my phone without being plugged into a wall outlet is great. I also like the fact that I can now charge my phone with a more standardized Micro USB charger. This gives me options, I can remove the charging receiver to use my Lightning cable but if I were to forget that cable or even one of my many USB to Micro USB cables it is a lot easier to find a cable to borrow and charge my phone. The charging pad is well designed and makes sure that your phone is properly placed on the pad to ensure good contact for charging. Although I do not have any real experience with Qi charging I have seen a lot of reviews and articles stating that finding the sweet spot for charging your Qi device can be tricky, the protruding notch on the charge pad helps solve that. The Backbone Battery is a great first add-on and its modular nature makes its use even more attractive. I will say this, if you are a power phone user the backup battery may not have enough juice to fill your using needs but for the average user it should be enough to get you to a location to get a charge.

So, what’s my bottom line here. I really like this system. From a gadget standpoint who doesn’t love a multi-tasking product with real usability. The ability to charge my phone with a more readily available Micro USB cable is a major plus. The modular design of the case could allow Dog & Bone to add more components or even upgrade the battery if technology improves. Now for where a lot of people may have an issue with this system, the price. As you can see from the review I was sent the whole product line; case, charge pad and battery. All of those items together will run you $189.90. The Backbone wireless charging case by itself without the charge pad is $89.95, the Backbone battery runs $49.95 and the Backbone case and charge pad combo will run 139.95. That being said I have paid more money for a iPhone 5 cases that did a lot less so for me The Backbone system is worth the price. All these products are available at the Dog & Bone website. If you are looking for flexibility in a usable iPhone 5 case the Backbone system is a strong contender.

Updates 08/04/15

This is still the case of choice for my iPhone. Although there does not seem to be as many Qi charging stations around as I would like, they are catching on. With the ability to charge my iPhone with a Micro USB to USB cable or the lightning cable, I never have to worry about how I’m going to charge my phone. This one is an everyday work horse for me.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by Dog & Bone. Visit their site for more info.


Product Information

Price:Backbone case $89.95, case and charge pad $139.95, Backbone battery $49.95
Manufacturer:Dog & Bone
  • iPhone 5/5s
  • Easy to use
  • Multi-functional capabilities
  • Well made and designed
  • Added flexibility
  • May seem pricey to some

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