My iPhone is always with me, and I will admit to having mild panic attacks if I misplace it around the office or house. Only once have I had cause to go into major panic mode though, and that was when I managed to leave my iPhone and my car keys in a shop. Luckily it was the last shop I had been in, and my good fortune held up as not only had I left them at the checkout counter but the checkout assistant was a very honest person. I would not like to experience those 15 minutes of pure 'life without an iPhone' hell any time again soon though. Which is where the BungeeAir from physical device security specialists Kensington enters the picture.
Sure, I know all about the 'find my iPhone' application and service but that's not a lot of help if you've misplaced the device and don't have immediate access to a computer from which you can initiate the very clever search, locate and if necessary destroy the data routine. I'm also aware that I could ask a passer-by if I could use their mobile to call mine, but that's only any good if: a) my handset is within earshot or answered by someone friendly rather than a thief, b) I can find someone willing to let a stranger user their mobile phone, and that's not so easy in the world we inhabit, and perhaps most importantly c) if I can remember my own mobile phone number which, I am sorry to report, I most certainly cannot. What is needed is something that prevents me from being able to misplace the iPhone in the first place, and at the risk of repeating myself, that's where the BungeeAir comes in. It's a simple enough concept: combine a 'smart' case with a paired keyfob that connect wirelessly with each other. Should ever the two be separated by more than a pre-set distance, the keyfob sounds the alarm which alerts the user to the fact that the iPhone is not where it should be. Think of it as an invisible technological tether between phone and you, letting off an alarm should you forget to pick up your iPhone and wander off or, indeed, if someone else picks it up and wanders off with it. BungeeAir is not some James Bond style gadget that self-destructs if tampered with, although anyone opening the case once it has been 'armed' will trigger your keyfob alarm. There is no option to delete your data either, it's just an old-fashioned anti-tamper system tied into a more modern 2.4 GHz wireless connection proximity alarm device with a built-in battery for good measure. The 1500mAh Lithium Polymer battery pack, which is integrated into the case design, is good for around four hours of extended iPhone talk time or 20 hours of music playback which really cannot be sniffed at. Having dismissed the James Bond connection, once you fire up the associated app (a free download from the App Store) you do get the impression that Kensington want you to feel like you have some secret service equipment in your pocket. Maybe it's the 'armed' status message, or the finding my key 'radar signal' graphic, but it does seem like something of a superfluous requirement; an app for the sake of having an app maybe. Still, if you like apps and need some software to tell you have turned the thing on, then you will be happy enough. Other downsides, apart from the somewhat pointless James Bond app, are mainly to do with size. The BungeeAir does add to the size and weight of your iPhone, and then some. In terms of sheer size it's about the same as an Otterbox Defender case but slightly longer, but without the water resistant advantages of the Otterbox or the screen protection for that matter.
Then there's the additional weight that having another battery strapped to your iPhone introduces. It's not like carrying a brick in your pocket, but the extra 90g is certainly noticeable enough as is that additional length of the iPhone when encased like this. That said, there is a big positive to using this case: it converts the Apple 30-pin connector to a bog standard micro-USB one and comes with a cable that carries both data and charge. It's almost like your dreams coming true, if you are the kind of geek (like me) who has been wishing that Apple would do the decent thing and give us standard micro-USB for ages now. Perhaps the biggest negative for many people though will be the price, especially if you are on the UK side of the pond where the $99 price tag translates into a straightforward and rather unwelcome £99 one. That said, you do get a fair amount for you money when you consider that this is a pretty decent case, a security alarm and a battery pack all in one. Buy those things separately and you will end up with a bigger hole in your wallet and a much uglier and less practical mobile security solution. Of course, having your iPhone in this case does not mean it is less likely to get stolen, just less likely to be misplaced.
You can see the Kensington BungeeAir security case in action here: