I was asked if I wanted to test an extended battery pack for iphone 4’s that we might deploy to our iphone fleet at work especially field support people who are on the go a lot. Test…cool…gadget….hmmmm…Where do I sign up?
The test unit is a Mophie juice pack air for iphone 4. The device looks like a plain phone case but actually has a 1500mAh battery inside of it (there is also a 2000mAh model available called the juice pack plus). The standard iphone 4 battery utilizes a 1420mAh battery. So, technically this battery pack should double my phone’s lifespan between charges.
The case comes in two pieces. The larger piece which contains the battery has a bypass switch on it which allows you to draw from the Mophie juice air battery or the iphone’s internal battery. There are 5 white LED charge lights on the bottom with accompanying button that when pressed shows the battery strength. There is a micro USB connection port that allows the device to be charged and sync with a computer via itunes. There is no need for disassembly of the case to sync and charge both the phone and the battery in the case. Once the iphone slides into the bottom piece and mates up with the connector that looks like the connector on a standard iphone/ipad/itouch cable, you can then slide the top piece down to cover the top of the iphone. The two pieces come together slightly past a third of the way down from the top of the iphone.
The sides on my juice pack are silver and the back is a matte black. There are also two other back colors available (red and white). The back part of the juice pack is a rubbery material that provides some tactile support to help you keep from dropping the phone.
There are cutout slots in the case for the volume controls, mute switch, power button, headphone jack/upper mic, and the camera on the back.
The most important question here is does the juice pack well, deliver the juice? In my testing, the device almost but not quite doubled my battery life. Normally after a full day of use, my battery is around 50% used up. I typically have all the antennas on, (3G, GPS, bluetooth, and wifi). With the mophie juice pack, it doesn’t kick over to the internal battery on my phone until around four in the afternoon. Realistically, if I pushed it, I probably could get a day and a half of usability from the combination of internal phone battery and the Mophie juice pack. The documentation says you should get ~500 FULL charges out of the juice pack. Three recharges of the juice pack while it was at 1/3 battery battery strength counts as one full charge.
The styling is quite nice. I like the rubberized back on the device. The juice pack adds about 1cm of length to the phone which isn’t too bad although there is a downside to this as you will see below. Additionally the back on the juice pack adds about another 5mm of depth to the phone back which isn’t too bad.
I really like how you can charge and sync the device with a micro USB cable. I have plenty of those floating around from other devices and this makes it easier to sync and charge the device. I have never liked the proprietary iphone connection cable.
As mentioned above, the length of the juice pack is only increased about 1cm, but that seems to be enough to make the balance of the device “off” in your hand. When you hold the phone with the juice pack on it, it feels like it going to tip over the top of your hand (and I have fairly large hands). It isn’t that bad, but it is noticeable.
The phone becomes big enough with the juice pack installed that getting it in and out of jeans pockets takes a little more work. Again, it isn’t too bad, but those of you wearing tight “lawmen” jeans might want to think twice about getting this battery pack/case.
I wish the case had some sort of latching mechanism for where the two parts of the case come together. I don’t think it is too big of an issue, but I have already pulled the top piece of the case off pulling the phone out of my pocket.
I would be a little concerned dropping my phone with the juice pack attached to it. I think my phone would be ok, but I don’t think the juice pack would survive the fall. With the weight of the phone plus the battery pack and the fact that the silvery band around the case is just colored plastic, I have a sneaking suspicion that it would break quite easily.
There is a very slight degradation in voice quality due to the ports used in the bottom of the juice pack that funnel the speaker sounds up and through it. Also, callers reported they can hear something when I got a text or email notification and my phone was set to vibrate. The vibration through the juice pack could be heard according to callers.
The price. The list price on the Mophie website is $79.95 at the time of writing. That is a bit spendy for my tastes. If it were say $50, I think this would be a much more reasonable price.
If you are looking for a nice extended battery for your iphone 4 and money isn’t an object, I recommend the Mophie juice pack air. It pretty much doubles your iphone 4’s battery life, it is built well, and it looks great.
******* 7/10 stars
Some pics: (Note, the LED’s aren’t on all of the time. I just turned them on to show what they look like)