One of the best iPhone accessories that I have reviewed and gotten the most use out of has been the original Mophie Juice Pack. It is the perfect companion on long trips such as flights and car rides. My main issue with it was it did not totally cover the iPhone 3G causing it to ruin the aesthetic appearance of Apple’s sleek phone and it was bulky. Thankfully Mophie resolved that issue by housing a rechargeable 1200mAh lithium polymer battery inside of a form fitting iPhone 3G case. With the release of the Mophie Juice Pack Air the user is able to carry a spare battery and a case all in one.
The earlier Juice Pack was on all the time, for this newer model Mophie also included an on/off switch for the battery; so you are not left wondering if the iPhone is being charged. The four LED charge status lights found on the original Juice Pack are still found on the back of the Mophie Juice Pack Air. Now you can carry an iPhone 3G with three times the battery capacity, all in a protective hard shell case.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air comes in a black card board package with the device prominently pictured on the front of the box. Since this is an Apple certified product it has the “Works with iPhone” sticker displayed on the top corner of the package. On the rear of the box one finds a list of features and specs as well as an opening to check the LED charge status. Mophie pre-charges the device, so you are ready to roll as soon as the case/battery is taken out for use.
The package flips open with Quick Start instructions in both English and French on the inside of the front cover. In the remaining section of the packaging we find the Mophie Juice Pack Air with a USB charging cable sitting below it. While the original Juice Pack uses a mini USB connector, the Mophie Juice Pack Air relies on a micro-USB connector. This means another cable to carry around if you already have a device that charges via a mini-USB cable such as a Bluetooth headset. I thought the mini-USB connector was small and portable enough, I guess I was wrong on that count.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is seen holding the user manual which doubles as iPhone prop. Mophie currently offers three color selections for the Juice Pack Air – white, black and purple. Our review sample is the white version.
The Juice Pack Air measures 4.9” x 2.59” x 0.75” and weighs in at 2.66 ounces. It is composed of a white glossy plastic material. It is thicker than most iPhone 3G cases because it houses a 1200 mAh lithium polymer battery which sits on the back part of the case.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is composed of two halves; the lower large portion which contains the battery and where the iPhone 3G docks into and the upper segment which covers the top portion of the iPhone 3G and has the requisite openings for the camera, headphone jack, power button, volume and mute buttons.
The front of the Juice Box Air features a Mophie logo at the base. Just above this logo is the iPhone connector. On the bottom, we find a micro-USB connector input and on/off switch. The back of the Juice Pack Air has a status indicator button with four adjacent LEDs. Four blue LEDs lit up means a full battery!
For size comparison, here is the original Juice Pack next to its brethren.
The juice pack air™ is a rechargeable external battery concealed inside of a protective form-fitting case for the iPhone 3G. It offers you the full protection of a hard-shell case while providing virtually twice the battery life of the iPhone alone; all in an ultra-thin, light-weight, low-profile design.
• The world’s thinnest Apple certified “Works With iPhone” external battery for iPhone 3G!
• Rechargeable 1200mAh lithium polymer battery virtually doubles your time to rock, talk, surf and send.
• Pass-through USB charging and sync with iTunes
• Extended smart battery and full case protection
• On/Off switch offers choice of battery or case
• Integrated 4 LED charge status indicator
height: 4.9” width: 2.59” depth: 0.75”
NOTE: The juice pack air is made to fit the iPhone 3G in its natural state. If you have protective skins, cases, etc. you may find it difficult to place and remove your iPhone from the case. (screen guards/shields are okay)
Installing the iPhone 3G into the Mophie Juice Pack Air involves inserting the iPhone into the lower larger half of the case and then sliding the top portion on the phone. Mophie recommends removing any protective skins or else the iPhone 3G will be difficult to insert and remove from the Mophie Juice Pack Air. I can attest to that fact as my iPhone 3G features an Infectious skin which made the phone fit too snuggly within the case and separating the case from the iPhone was rather difficult.
Once the Mophie Juice Pack Air is protecting the iPhone 3G you will notice and increase in bulk and weight. My wife upon seeing the case/battery on my iPhone remarked how big and bulky it was; I am talking about the Mophie Juice Pack Air of course!
The case sits flush with the face of the iPhone leaving it exposed to the outside environment; which is the situation with most iPhone 3G cases. This open area allows the use of screen guards and shields since those do not press against the Mophie Juice Pack Air. Accessing all the controls and buttons was simple with all the requisite opening for buttons and connectors.
As a case, the Mophie Juice Pack Air seems sturdy enough and seems like it would withstand a good fall or two onto a hard surface. However, since the Mophie Juice Pack Air is also an electronic device, I would advise against dropping it as traumatic impact may save your phone but could destroy the battery function of the Mophie device.
Since it is composed of a glossy plastic material the case does pick up smudges. Overall it is a nice looking case, as I mentioned previously it does add a fair amount of bulk to the iPhone. Another nit pick is I wish they provided a grip area or made the case out of a less slick material as the Juice Pack Air is more slick feeling than the original model.
According to Mophie the Juice Pack Air provides up to 270 hours of standby time, 4.5 hours of talk time running on the 3G network and 9 hours on the 2G network, 20 hours of audio playback, 6 hours or video playback and 4.5 to 5.4 Internet access depending on whether using 3G or Wi-Fi. These times are in addition to the iPhone 3G’s native battery life.
With the integrated power switch, you will only use the Juice Pack Air when it is required. You can have it recharge your iPhone and then turn it back off or just run directly off the external battery keeping the native iPhone battery topped off at all times until the Juice Pack Air drains out.
Charging the Mophie Juice Pack Air took approximately 3-4 hours via a USB port connection from a PC.
Normally I charge my iPhone every two days unless I am using the internet heavily, then I usually have to charge it by the end of the day. Using the Juice Pack Air I was able to run 5 days without connecting to a power source other than the Mophie case/battery. This was with a mix of heavy internet use at times, watching a couple of movies and actual cell phone use. This seemed to match the battery life of the original Mophie Juice Pack.
One thing I would care to mention, when charging the iPhone, the Juice Pack Air did get particularly warm. With the external battery I was able to get the iPhone to absorb all of the Mophie charge in about two hours. Unlike its predecessor the Juice Pack Air was able to muster only a 90% recharge off a full charged external battery. This is due to the 1,200mAh as opposed to the 1,800mAh of the original Mophie Juice Pack.
If you are an iPhone junkie and constantly use your Apple phone, then the Mophie Juice Pack Air is a no brainer. It provides protection and additional power all in one well designed package. However, if you need more than one full recharge off an external battery then you may want to pick up the original Juice Pack.
Mophie is proving to be the leader in external battery technology for the iPhone and with their latest offering have created another winning product.
Extends Battery Life
Protects iPhone as well as charges
Integrated power switch
Would not call it Ultra-Thin
Battery not as strong as the original Juice Pack