As awesome as the iPhone is, all that awesomeness comes at a hefty cost of battery life. Traveling with the iPhone means you will need to find a power source at least every 48 hours, or you may find yourself with a shiny brick. There are countless battery charging solutions for the iPhone – and we have covered many of them in the past here on Gadling.
In this review, we’ll take a quick look at a battery backup product built into a case – the Mophie juicepack air. The juicepack air is part case and part iPhone 3G/3GS battery pack. The case consists of two parts – you slide your iPhone into the bottom half, then slide the top on, creating a hard shell that protects the entire phone.
Of course, when you add any kind of case to your phone, it is going to add some bulk, but adding a case and battery obviously makes things even bulkier. The case weighs 2.2 ounces (62 grams), so while weight may not be an issue – the added thickness to your otherwise sleek iPhone may annoy you. This is of course the price you pay for more than doubling the battery life of your device.
The design features of the juicepack air are really quite clever – the microphone and speaker are fully functional thanks to two small indentations in the bottom of the case, and because of the way the speaker is pointed up, sound actually becomes more vibrant – as long as you don’t turn your phone screen down.
Charging the juicepack air is simple – you use the included MicroUSB charger cable, plugged into any USB power source. This USB cable doubles as a sync cable, which means you can leave your regular iPhone dock cable at home.
On the back of the juicepack air is a battery level button, and four blue LED’s show the current battery status. Unlike many other iPhone power sources, the juicepack air only powers your device when you need it – by turning it on. This means it is always ready to help power your device.
Yes – your iPhone will become quite a bit thicker, but anyone who has arrived at their destination only to find their iPhone is dead will probably learn to live with the bulk.
The battery in the juicepack air is 1200mAh – which should be enough to almost double the life of your iPhone battery. In my test, I took an iPhone with an empty battery, and with the juicepack turned on, was able to keep it going for another 19 hours – which is about the same amount of time I’d get off the iPhone without a battery booster. During that test, I did the same things I usually do – lots of email and other apps, Wi-Fi on and some Bluetooth audio streaming.
The price is a bit of an issue – at $79.95 the Mophie juicepack air is not a cheap accessory, and there are cheaper options out there. Several online retailers stock the juicepack air for around $65 – which is still on the high side. That said – the juicepack air is one of the better looking battery packs, and many of the cheaper solutions really don’t look that appealing.
Still – if you don’t care about looks, or value your cash more than your style, then the juicepack air may not be the best option for you. However, if you like keeping your iPhone sleek, the juicepack air more than delivers.
PROS: Good looking, good build quality
CONS: Price, relatively low battery capacity
Personally, I would have preferred to see the package come a little more complete – there is no AC or car charger included, and no screen protector. These extras could have made the price a bit easier to accept.
Product page: mophie juicepack air