While everyone loves a smartphone case that offers extra battery life, who wouldn’t want to add a little bit more — and maybe even pick the features they wrap around their phone?
That’s the premise behind i-Blades, which today announced its new “smart” case, a product line that lets you choose from a selection of available add-on modules, including more battery life, additional storage, or even extended processing power.
The new product, unveiled at CES today, is built around the idea of personalized “blades,” which users can choose based on what feature is most important to them.
In the initial stages, i-Blades will offer battery power, storage, and custom processor modules. The company expects to partner with existing case makers. CEO Jorge Fernandes said i-Blades will begin shipping sample cases to partners in April or May, will scale up those shipments in August or September, and hopes to be selling them to consumers in November or December.
Fernandes said i-Blades will initially support high-end Android phones from Samsung, HTC, and others, and would like to add iPhone support by early 2016. But he acknowledged the difficulties of getting Apple on board, and said that’s why i-Blades is launching for Android first.
Pricing will vary widely, Fernandes explained, depending on what consumers want. A simple additional battery will probably cost around $20, while a blade with 1 terabyte of memory will go for $1,000.
I-Blades users will start with a “Base Blade,” which connects to a either the phone’s USB or Lightning connector, and which provides additional battery power. But that can be swapped out in favor of a Memory blade, which adds up to a terabyte of storage; a Sports blade, which is meant to integrate with sports wearables; or a Medical blade, which allows interacting with health-related add-ons. The company also hopes developers will come up with a range of other custom options.
While it’s simple enough to supplement a phone with external battery power or even storage (Android phones support external storage via their USB ports, through an app), it’s not clear how the company hopes to integrate additional processing power or other features.
VentureBeat did not have a chance to check out the cases, and it’s hard to know at this point if they will work as promised, or if consumers will be interested in forking over $1,000 for extra storage. But the idea of a customizable smartphone case is intriguing. It will be interesting to see if phone and case manufacturers, as well as consumers, agree.