Over the holidays, I picked up a Mophie Juice Pack Air for my iPhone 3GS thanks to a great deal on Boxing Day ($48 @ London Drugs).
I’ve been considering one of these types of battery packs for my iPhone for awhile. I already have the Griffin Power Jolt which works really well when you just need a little more juice but sometimes you’re away from an outlet for longer than you’d like. The Power Jolt only gives you about 25% of your battery back on an iPhone 3G/3GS whereas the Mophie gives you one full charge back effectively doubling your battery power.
The form factor of the Juice Pack Air is very similar to the iPhone…it’s a similar shiny hard plastic case that completely envelops the iPhone. I kind of wish it wasn’t so shiny as for a case, it doesn’t offer any slip protection like most cases do. I’d prefer a matte finish or even a rubberized coating. All the iPhone’s buttons and switches are still accessible except the dock connector:
In its place is a micro USB port and a slider switch. The Juice Pack comes with the necessary micro USB cable that facilitates charging the Juice Pack and allows you to sync your iPhone while in the case. I wish it was a more common mini USB cable but at least it’s not a proprietary plug/cable although I don’t believe I have any other devices (or cables) that are micro USB so it’s one more cable you need to carry and hope you don’t lose. At least Mophie sells replacement cables inexpensively on their website.
The switch allows you to control when the iPhone receives its charge from the Juice Pack. You can charge it up and leave it in standby mode until you need it.
As I mentioned earlier, everyone on the iPhone is still available to use, including the camera as you can see above. The photo should also give you a good idea of how much extra bulk the case/battery adds to the iPhone. I have to say, when I first held a Juice Pack, it seemed bulky but after having this one for a couple of days, it’s really not a big deal.
This is similar to Apple laptops that display how much power is left in the battery. While charging, these light up and blink to indicate how far along the charge is. Press the button at any time and you’ll know how much juice is left in the case.
The only real shortcoming this device has is the inability to charge the iPhone battery directly through the case while plugged into your computer (or similar USB power port). You can only charge up the Juice Pack and then charge the iPhone by depleting the Juice Pack. I would have preferred to be able to charge up both (sequentially is fine) so that you have both fully charged up before heading out. The way it is now, you have to charge them separately. Removing the iPhone from the case is easy enough but it would be easier if you didn’t have to.
I don’t plan on using the case all the time, just on those days that I know I’ll be out for an extended time and don’t want to worry about my iPhone dying while using it heavily.
UPDATE (Jan 7, 2010): Thanks to C.K.’s suggestion in the comments, it does appear that the syncing while in the Juice Pack Air issue is related to a bad cable. I swapped cables and it worked fine. Contact Mophie’s support to get a replacement. Mine is on it’s way.