iPod, a phone, and an internet mobile communicator. – those were the words used by Steve Jobs to describe the iPhone during it’s introduction six years ago. While the mobile landscape has changed exponentially since then, battery technology unfortunately has not – and while a five hour battery before would cut it – it definitely doesn’t now. For those who demand more power from their smartphones, Mophie has a wide array of battery solutions, and for iPhone 5 users the Mophie Juice Pack Air doesn’t disappoint. Read past the break for our review of this stylish iPhone battery case.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is thin – that is, until you add the iPhone to the equation. Putting it on nearly doubles the thickness of your iPhone 5. You instantly start to miss the sleekness of the iPhone build; heck, it’s thicker than the 3GS. The case also has weight to it, but weirdly enough that didn’t bother me as much as I expected. The case is tapered around the back so it moulds well with your hand, and is quite comfortable to hold. The rubbery finish on the plastic made it über comfortable to the touch.
Unlike the cheaper and smaller battery equipped Helium case, the Air has pass through buttons for the volume rocker, mute switch and lock button rather than cut outs. The Juice Pack Air comes in three colors: black, white, and (product)RED. While the Air makes your iPhone 5 look uglier than Apple intended it to be, the sheer comfort factor makes it so much easier to bear with. The case also directs the speaker and microphone to the front of the phone blasting sound directly at your face – kind-of like the HTC One. It’s super effective with louder sound and the microphone is super clear. The headphone jack has much deeper access because of the new placing at the bottom. As a result certain headphones may not fit through but a headphone jack extender is included, but I didn’t need it for the EarPods or Bowers & Wilkins C5s. Right-angeled jack’s: you have been warned.
Due to the non-scientific nature of this part of the review, be warned that results might vary based on how you use your iPhone.
To be honest, I’ve never really been in many situations where I didn’t have access to a power source for a couple hours, but I used to be very cautious about battery life. I used to switch off LTE when I didn’t use it, put the brightness on low unless I was outdoors, and constantly empty out the multitasking tray. With the Mophie Juice Pack Air – even with the brightness on 100%, WiFi and cellular running, roughly two hours of phone calls, an hour of gaming, and a lot of internet connected app use (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WSJ, etc.) my iPhone lasted a full two days.
Mophie claims that the built in 1700mAh battery should get you up to 100% from near dead, but in my experience I found it to get my iPhone back up to 80% or so before it fizzed out. The Juice Pack standardizes the main port by allowing you to use a MicroUSB in place of Lightning. When I plug in the included microUSB port it charge up the iPhone 5 and case subsequently. You can’t sync through iTunes with microUSB so I had to pull off the bottom part (which isn’t easy) and sync it.
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While the Air’s main purpose is to be an extra battery to take your iPhone 5 the extra mile, it’s still a case. So I thought I would see how well it performs doing what a case was meant to do since the beginning of time: protecting your device. I should firstly mention that the improved grip the Air offered me, with its comfortable design, really helped me refrain from dropping and destroying my $750 phone. But nevertheless I did a few drops for you to see how well it managed. I did 3 drops: one from the pocket, one from chest level and one from my ear. The case didn’t get dented at all, which throughly impressed me. There was some slight ‘scuffing’ on the back but i wasn’t able to feel anything, it’s just as smooth as it’s when new. There was also some more significant scuffing on the plastic band that runs around the same place the iPhone 5′s band does. It’s a sturdy ‘case’ that will do the job for protecting you from accidental drops, don’t expect any Otterbox action here. It can still crack very easily.
The Bottom Line
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is a great case that does exactly as advertised: It charges your iPhone 5 and lasts your iPhone for 2 days+ on a full charge. With a grand total of 3140mAh of juice, this is really the best it’ll ever get for a power user. The thickness really was the frustration, and to some extent, that is out of Mophie’s control. Towards the end of my review, I decided to only slip the Juice Pack on during vacations or long car rides. The Air retails for $99 whereas it’s weaker/cheaper brother the Helium retails for $79. Trust me, the $20 upgrade to the Air is well worth it.