Gear Review: Mophie juice pack plus is like spare film for your iPhone
This review is long overdue. A while back, the great folks at Mophie sent me a Mophie juice pack plus for review. I’ve been using this case on my iPhone 4S for the past couple of months. It’s gotten quite a workout and has seen just about everything I can throw at it during some pretty heavy use.
The Mophie juice pack plus is an outstanding case for the iPhone 4 and 4S. Even after reviewing it, the Mophie is a case that I use everyday.
Going on a photo walk or any picture hunt without some sort of additional power is like going on a photoshoot with only one roll of film. You will almost certainly run out of either before you’ve finished shooting.
The juice pack plus is a pretty slick iPhone case. It comes in five colors. The two-piece case slides apart easily. The iPhone slides right in and fits snugly in the case. There’s a 30-pin connector inside the case that the phone slides down into. Everything in the case fits the phone snugly. I had no problems with the case coming apart unexpectedly, yet it was very easy to get the iPhone out of the Mophie when I needed to remove it. If you use an OlloClip or have another iPhoneography-centric case, you’ll be glad removing the phone is easy. The Mophie has no lens mounts or any way to mount them, so I’m glad it’s easy to get out of when I need to switch to my Diff Case.
One of the additional benefits of the thicker back is really great protection for your camera’s lens. The back lens sits at the bottom of a well-flared opening, with about 5/16″ of protection from scratches and fingerprints.
The case fits all models of iPhone 4 and 4S. It uses its own set of buttons to activate the Power On/Off button and the volume buttons. Operation was smooth and flawless on both of our iPhone 4 and 4S devices — no problems at all. The headpone jack and the ringer switch are both exposed and recessed nearly 1/8″ in the case. All but the largest fingers can easily get to the ringer switch.
Looking down on the iPhone, it adds little thickness to the top and side edges. It adds about 5/8″ to the bottom of the phone — that’s where the case’s port, on/off switch and battery level LEDs are. Four LEDs let you know how much juice you’ve got left in the case. They also indicate progress while the battery is charging.
From the side, the case doubles the thickness of the iPhone. It also adds another 2.9 oz. to the 5 oz. weight of the iPhone. It’s almost all battery. The back of the case is curved making it more ergonomic and minimizes the additional size. The curved case fits naturally in large or small hands. While not as sexy as a caseless iPhone, I got used to the additional size and weight fairly quickly.
The case is a dual-injected hard shell case with protective shock-proof rubberized band. In addition to adding battery life, it also protects your iPhone from everyday shocks and bumps. Don’t intentionally try this at home, but my iPhone+Mophie easily survived several falls off my office desk. It’s not the rugged protection of an OtterBox or Mophie’s new juice pack PRO, but it’ll definitely protect your iPhone from the everyday bumps it’s bound to get through normal use.
The case itself doesn’t use Apple’s standard 30-pin connector. Instead, it uses a micro USB port for charging and syncing — a standard that Apple hasn’t adopted for its devices. Without taking your iPhone out of the case, you won’t be able to use your friend’s Apple connectors to recharge your phone if needed. It comes with its own micro USB cable and if needed, additional cables can be purchased just about everywhere.
Okay, but how well does the Mophie work?
Quite simply, it delivers.
The original iPhone 4 and 4S have about a 5.25Wh battery capacity. The Juice Pack Plus has a listed capacity of about 7.4 Wh, more than doubling the capacity of the iPhone.
I’m not a super heavy user, so the charge on my iPhone 4S usually lasts through the day. If I app, internet or use the phone a lot, I may need to charge up mid afternoon.
In real-world usage, the juice pack plus doubles the usable charge on my iPhone 4S. I can let my iPhone get down to less than 10% charge and use the Mophie to charge it back up to 100% and still have a little left in the tank. Under normal usage with the Mophie, I can now go two days without plugging my iPhone in to recharge.
After three months of usage, the Mophie still holds a charge, even with heavy usage. Since I’ve had my Mophie, I have not run out of power during the day.
Tip: I got the best results switching the Mophie to stand-by mode and using the iPhone’s battery until it had drained down to about 10% before switching over. You can also let the phone run off the Mophie first, but the overall charge won’t last quite as long.
My only quibble with the case is purely from an iPhone videographer’s perspective. The audio ports on the case both face front. They’re optimized for speaking and music playback. This turns the iPhone’s microphone into a fairly unidirectional mic that’s pointed away from the back camera. For video recording with the iPhone’s back camera, you’ll need some sort of external mic to get any audio at all. There are plenty available for the iPhone’s headset jack. This is a very minor issue for me and does not effect my recommendation of the device.
With my first case, I also experienced the issue of the case dropping the sync when syncing the phone to iTunes on Mac. Mophie’s customer service promptly sent out a replacement unit and a return box for the old unit so I was never without extra power. It was a very smooth and painless customer service experience.
The Mophie juice pack plus is an excellent case. I’ve had plenty of time to test it and for me it’s delivered exceptionally. It’s an excellent power source that seamlessly integrates with my iPhone’s, effectively doubling the battery life. It offers great protection as well against everyday drops and bumps. Mophie’s customer service was quick, helpful and excellent.
Apple will still offer the iPhone 4 and 4S for at least a couple more years. I strongly suspect that this case will be updated for the new “iPhone 5.” The Mophie juice pack plus is an outstanding iPhone case. I highly recommend it.
For greater protection, the new Mophie new juice pack PRO is now available and offers watertight ports, better shock, dust and water protection, and provides up to 150% additional battery life.
Mophie provided a review unit for this post.