Mophie was one of the first companies to come out with a battery case for the iPhone 5, a power-hog repeat offender without equal. Their original offering was the Juice Pack Helium, a device capable of providing 1500mAh of additional power or roughly 80% extra battery life. Given our heavy event schedule, we opted to review the powerful Juice Pack Plus, sitting at the top perch of the Mophie product totem pole and capable of providing 2100mAh of juice for a 120% charge of the iPhone 5. Mophie also offers the Juice Pack Air which includes a 1700 mAh battery for an additional 100% battery life.
So– what’s Mophie’s biggest workhorse like in day to day usage? The good news is that it’s incredibly helpful to have the capability to more than double the battery life of your phone. The bad news is that, in exchange for this advantage, you’re carrying around a device whose bulky dimensions (2.63 in x 5.58 in x 0.69 in) mean it’s longer, thicker and also 3.14 ounces heavier.
In practice, it feels like carrying around a small brick, but the soft-touch plastic exterior is actually very comfortable in the hand and, despite its slick look, quite grippy. There is a plastic bumper around the phone and also plastic buttons for the Volume and Power functions, instead of cutouts, which work well. The case is available in white, red or black, the color of our test unit. And if the size is just too overwhelming Mophie does offer more svelte options for those whose power consumption needs are less heavy.
Getting the iPhone into the Mophie Juice Pack Plus is a simple process thanks to its 2-section case. It just requires sliding the iPhone into the upper section and then snapping in place the bottom section which houses an interior Lightning connector and exterior micro-USB port. There is also a deep and cavernous cutout for the headphone jack but, unless you have an unusually long connector, you will need to use the included extender to reach the 3.5mm jack.
Flipping the Juice Pack over you will encounter 4 battery indicator LEDs, a power indicator activation button, and a standby switch for cutting the additional power on or off. Pressing the power indicator button causes anywhere from 1 to all 4 LEDs to flash, indicating rough juice levels from low to full power.
Charging is as simple as connecting the included micro-USB cable which actually powers up both the Juice Pack Plus and the iPhone itself. While use of the micro-USB is great for fans of cheap standard connectors as opposed to the pricey Lightning cables, it requires that any type of iPhone sync take place via Wi-Fi. Or you can always quickly snap off the bottom section of the case to access the Lightning port.
Mophie claims that the juice pack is rechargeable for 500 full cycles, which is technically when the case is charged from 0% to 100%. Partial cycles, in other words charging from anything less than full depletion, don’t count as a full cycle until the multiple partial charges equal 100%. But it’s not as if, once you hit 500 cycles, all hope is lost. After this threshold, Mophie states that the “battery in the juice pack may provide less than 75% of the original capacity.”
For folks on the go who don’t have time to constantly recharge their phones either at home or in the car, the Mophie Juice Pack Plus is a huge win. Because we now rely on our phone for virtually everything from navigation to critical e-mails to client calls, Mophie has managed to save our butts on more occasions than we care to recall in just the few short weeks we’ve been using it. We’ve tried those lipstick container-styled USB portable power packs but they are awkward to carry around and difficult to charge and use at the same time. Having everything integrated makes life sooo much easier. And who doesn’t like easier?