Skip to main content

Brando Power Jacket for Lumia 920: Gaming Review

The release of Order & Chaos Online was a big deal for Windows Phone 8 gamers. Finally, our platform had a fully- fledged massively multiplayer online role-playing game with beautiful 3D graphics and Xbox Achievements. But graphically intense online games have a downside: they drain a device’s battery like crazy! Depending on a user’s charger and phone settings, a phone might die while playing demanding games – even when plugged in.

In searching for solutions to the power drain issue, I remembered our previous review of the Brando Power Jacket for the Lumia 920. A combination of external battery and phone case, the Power Jacket seemed like the ideal solution or Lumia 920 gamers looking for more juice on the go. Now that I’ve used the case exclusively for a couple of months, I’m back to report my findings on its suitability for gamers.

Case specs

A quick refresher: the Power Jacket includes a built-in 2200mAh battery. After inserting the phone into the case, pressing the power button on the back of the case will charge the phone.

The Power Jacket’s battery charges via a micro-USB port at the bottom of the case. Four blue LEDs on the back indicate the case’s power level and whether it’s charging. The case comes in white or black, and it also features a built-in, flimsy kickstand.

Gaming comfort

First, let’s address the obvious. The Power Jacket ads a significant bulk to the Lumia 920, making it longer and thicker. A Lumia 920 with the case on nearly approaches the size of the Lumia 1520, though it’s still smaller.

And of course the case adds weight to the phone. This could potentially increase fatigue from holding the phone and gaming with it for long periods of time. But as a gamer, you’re probably used to holding physical controllers and playing for hours. The Power Jacket with a Lumia 920 inside won’t be heavier than your average Xbox 360 controller.

‘Dat power

The real reason a gamer would buy the Power Jacket is to extend their battery life. In that respect, the Power Jacket is a mixed bag. The best use scenario is when playing without a micro-USB cable connected to the case. After all, you could play while plugged in even without the case.

After manually turning the battery on, the light on the back of the case will blink and your phone will start charging. In my experience, the Power Jacket extended gaming time by about an hour. Demanding games take a lot of power, after all. The extra playtime could be longer, but every little bit helps when you’re on the go.

The Power Jacket’s charging is not without its downsides though. For one, it only provides 1A power output. In other words, it charges a bit slowly. To fully meet the demands of power hungry games, a 1.5A or 2.1A charger would be more appropriate. Instead of negating power drain while playing a high-power game, the Power Jacket is really just slowing the speed of drain.

Hot hot heat

Windows Phone 8 devices have been known to overheat due to some sort of hardware defect or OS-level bug. Playing with a case can protect your hands from that heat and make gaming more comfortable. That said, the Power Jacket actually produces heat while charging the phone. You don’t even have to be playing; the 920 just gets warm while the Power Jacket is turned on.

It’s no hotter than the phone gets when gaming anyway, but the idea that I’m absorbing extra radiation while playing is slightly disconcerting. The Power Jacket is a product of China. It wasn’t specifically engineered for Brando or anything. Point is, I don’t fully believe in the device’s safety rating. Maybe I’m just being paranoid.

I actually purchased two Power Jackets for my household. One of them sometimes makes a quiet hissing sound while charging. The other one charges silently, so perhaps the louder one is slightly defective. Update: A reader suggests that a capacitor or other component in the charging circuit might be emitting a high pitched frequency for some reason, thus causing the noise.

Charging the case

The Power Jacket has an interesting quirk that makes charging in general different from using a real charging cable. Namely, if the case detects the phone is at full power, it fully stops charging the phone. Whereas when you plug a phone into a real charger and it hits maximum capacity, power would continue to trickle and feed the phone, keeping it at maximum battery.

The downside to this is that you can plug the case in, start playing a low-power drain game, turn the power on, and your phone still ends up dying.

The phone didn’t die because the game sapped power faster than the case could provide it. Instead, the case got the phone to full power and just stopped providing power, all without telling the user. I’ve played the Sims FreePlay with the case plugged in and turned on, only to find a couple of hours later that my phone is critically low while the case is fully charged.

I don’t know that there’s a design solution to this issue – maybe the case could have a toggle switch for providing continuous power? But the workaround I’ve found is simply to remove the phone from the case when I want to play plugged in. My charger provides power faster than the Power Jacket anyway. But taking your case off means you won’t have any protection if you drop your phone.

Overall Impression

The Brando Power Jacket is not quite the perfect gaming power solution I had hoped it would be. There have been too many times when I intended my phone to charge but the Power Jacket had charged itself instead. I also wish the jacket pumped out more power, because the Lumia 920 can easily handle more than 1A.

Still, external batteries can be quite useful. Carry a fully charged Lumia 920 and a fully charged Power Jacket and you’ll certainly get more playtime out of your phone. My first recommendation for Windows Phone gamers in need of more power would be a 2.1A charger. But if you need more power when you’re away from outlets and you’re willing to put up with some quirks, the Power Jacket could just do the trick.

Brando sells the Power Jacket for $37 on their website. If you prefer a reputable seller, they’re probably your best bet. But as I mentioned before, the Power Jacket is a generic Chinese product (also known as the Power Bank)  and can be purchased from a few other places as well. Head to eBay and you can get one for $20 shipped – just search for Lumia 920 power case.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • btw there is the bug in "Tetris Blitz"- Can't connect to facebook :(((
  • I'm suffering from the same problem. I told EA about it, but they haven't responded.
  • That's due to a change in the Facebook API. Bad move by Facebook I must say, and its in all Facebook connected games and apps that use the redirect thing, like Ice Age Village and some others.
  • There to busy working on more important things like BATTLEFIELD 4 :D
  • Also the game freezes for moments :/
  • Goto Facebook and go into settings, then Apps, and press the X next to Tetris blitz, then the game syncs for that game. This process is needed on every load of the game
  • I had no problems at all connecting to Facebook from Tetris Blitz on my 920 nor my wife on her 8X.
  • Dat thickness!
  • I'd be happy with the extra power and some more mm to the thickness is no issue, but I'd prefer something that works better, so still a no-go.
  • I've owned on of these cases for quite a while. I think the overheat of the case is worse than just the phone overheating. Also the battery in the case stops holding a charge quite quickly. When I first got the case. I could charge my phone one and a half times. Now ill be lucky if I get 50-60% for the battery pack. Anyways I believe it's a good thing for a college student to have handy in his backpack, as I do with mine.
  • I'm probably gonna end up buying a travel charger with its own rechargeable battery that I'll just connect to my phone. They're cheaper and I've had one with my hd2 before and they worked great.
  • Same here! Really annoying /: Hope for another solution soon.
  • 920 battery is all over the place, sometimes lasts for several hours sometimes lasts for 2 days. Pitiful. Ruins the whole phone! Fix the bug MS or Nokia
  • My 920 battery is definitely unpredictable and games are a big no-no
  • And here everybody was jumping down my throat when I said the battery was bad.
  • Nothing wrong with the battery. It's the OS and Applications that is the problem.
  • I bought this case when y'all first wrote about it. I use it more for travel and its been absolutely perfect for that. Definitely worth the price.
  • I've been using the Xpal Powerskin for my HTC 8X and it to gets quite warm when charging the phone.
  • I have a Power Jacket. When I take my 920 out it feels so....... small. I guess I'm used to holding things with girth. LOL! Seriously, it's great. I never leave home without it.
  • I know the feeling, I have a wallet case for my 920, and it feels so tiny when I take it out xD And people generally think I have a big phone xD
  • BTW for those of you who buy this case an added bonus will be the articificial aperture this cover makes wich will make shooting city shots full of lights a little bit easier. :)
  • I own one of these.. And it is dead now. It only holds a charge that lasts about 5mins.. Smh
  • Is the 1020 having this drain issues with the game Order & Chaos?
    On another note. Gameloft & Co could be disappointed in W8 devices performance?
  • I can play OAC for about 2 hours on my 1020. With the camera grip I can get 3 1/2 hrs usage.
  • Very huge no no
  • Huh?
  • When I travel I usually charge my phone with my Surface RT. Its about all it can do these days.
  • You're not absorbing any harmful radiation from the battery, nor from your phone. If I recall batteries are powered by a series of minute chemical reactions inside the batteries while the wavelength of the waves released by cell phones is harmless. There's really no biological or physiological reason why using your power case or phone would put you at danger of radioactive damage.
    Source - BA in General Biology
    I didn't work four years for that degree for nothing! :p
  • Actually the phone radio does emit radiation whilst its trying to connect (ringing) and significantly drops once the call connects. The FCC regulates and tests this to ensure a safety standard but you claiming that phones don't emit radiation at all is wrong, maybe research a little before making such claims
  • Sad no love for the Lumia 928. Why did you have to put the charger port on the top Nokia/Verizon?
  • Because, it's better there.
  • Sure, if you don't like having a lot of accessories to choose from.
  • Can we get one for the L925?
  • I'll purchase Order and Chaos once it has MOGA support. Hopefully that's soon
  • Anybody know if there is one of these for the 1020? Atm I'm using the camera grip for extra juice but it renders the device unpocketable
  • Charging the external pack before the phone is a major design flaw, a flaw that can render the entire setup pointless.
    For comparisons sake, HP Envy X2 (when connected to keyboard dock) charges the actual device first, then the dock, and when on battery drains the dock first. That should be how all external packs behave. I don;t know if WIndows Phone supports this kind of setup. It should if ti still does not.
  • Maybe the solution is to turn on the battery pack to start charging the phone, then plug in the wall charger to charge the battery pack.
  • I use my Lumia 1020 camera grip for extra juice when I know I'm going to play games. Works really well plus has the added benefit of giving your fingers somewhere to hold without worrying about hitting the soft keys.
  • A fan!? Really!? You have got to be joking right? 'A fan' he says!
  • Well, what's your theory?
  • Probably a high pitched frequency from a capacitor or other component in the charging circuit.
  • Ah, thanks. I've always been interested in electrical engineering but sadly I've never had the time to study it properly.
  • Using your Logitech cord to charge your phone. I do the same thing, the cord is much longer
  • Yep! I picked it up on a business trip once because I'd forgotten my OEM cord.
  • These various power grips and cases are reminding me of the ipaq days.
  • Yup those were the days. I miss my ipaq, but only when I don't think about my Lumia
  • I dont think the 920 battery will drain 2.1A; with a 2.1A charger the battery will still draw only 1.0A. A high capacity charger is only half the equation, the battery max draw is the other side.
  • Hmm. Everything I've read online indicates that higher A capacity chargers will charge low capacity devices faster...
  • All batteries have resistence and there is only so much area on the battery electrodes to accept the amperage. So it really depends on the battery. The best rule of thumb is to use a chrarger with the same voltage and amps that came with the phone. Otherwise you will either be wasting the extra amps and/or killing your battery life.
  • I have a case and it doesn't overheat for me. It does add significant bulk but I use it for times where I can't afford to run out of battery and it does the job perfectly.