When mophie first released their juice pack air for the iPhone it was a revelation. At least it was a revelation for me! For the first time I could wrap my iPhone in a case that brought with it both protection and far far better battery life. A short time later the company updated the juice pack to use a soft-touch material that even made holding the iPhone a pleasure. And that was a few iPhone’s ago! Since the first juice pack came out I have had one for every iPhone I have had. In fact, my juice pack air for iPhone 4 is often on my phone and, when it isn’t, it sits either in my gear bag or in the console of my car so that it is ready and waiting for those times when I am running low.
Apparently I am not the only one since I was at an open house last week and one of the guests had her iPhone in a mophie juice pack air. I commented on it and she replied, “I couldn’t imagine NOT using it. Without it the battery life is okay but with it… Love this thing.”
Mophie just released a version of the juice pack air for the 4th generation iPod touch that, in usual juice pack air form, combines a nice protective case with a 1000mAh battery. Now before you get all, “Yeah, but the iPod touch gets awesome battery life. Why would you even WANT one?” think about this: the current generation iPod touch makes a great point and shoot video camera. It uses up a fair bit of power doing so however. It makes a great gaming device. Once again, however, it uses up a ton of battery life when playing an action game with good graphics. Considering this why wouldn’t you want the extra juice? And if you are going to put the touch in a case anyhow… Isn’t it a no brainer?
Well lets take a closer look and see how much of a no brainer it is (or isn’t).
As the world’s thinnest rechargeable battery case, the mophie juice pack air™ is designed to virtually double the time you have to Rock, Watch, Surf and Send with your 4th Generation iPod touch.
The juice pack air™ is a rechargeable external battery concealed inside of a protective form-fitting case for the 4th Generation iPod touch. It offers you the full protection of a hard-shell case while providing virtually twice the battery life of the iPod touch alone; all in an ultra-thin, light-weight, low-profile design.
Innovative Design: The juice pack air™ is a rechargeable Smart Battery concealed inside of a low-profile, light-weight, soft-touch case. Toggle between Charging and Standby with the flick of a switch.
The juice pack air is a “Made for iPod” product! It’s compatible with the 4th Generation iPod touch.
The juice pack air™ is designed to virtually double the time you have to Rock, Watch, Surf and Send with your 4th gen iPod touch.
Whats inside the box?
• juice pack air for iPod touch 4G
• USB cable for charging/syncing
• User’s Manual
Yes, the unboxing experience for this version of the juice pack air was quite similar to what we have seen with other versions. It comes in a nice, heavy-duty box with just the main items you need to get up and running. You don’t need any more than that so it is great to see the company not wasting resources. (It does, however, make me start thinking that maybe companies should just put the user manuals on-line. Heck, if you are buying this thing you have wi-fi and know what the Internet is don’t you? Why not include a small card with the URL and be done?)
The juice pack air comes in two pieces that will be familiar to anyone who has used other versions of the product or any sort of slider case. The two halves fit together perfectly and there is just the right amount of “tightness” to ensure that, once together, they remain that way.
To use the case you simply slide the iPod touch in, line up the dock connector at the bottom and push down. Obviously you cannot have any sort of protective back film on the device if you plan to use this case.
As you can see the bottom portion holds the touch quite snuggly and it leaves just the upper portion of the touch exposed. This it taken care of by simply pushing the upper piece down on the main body of the juice pack.
The fit is perfect. The two halves of the battery case fit together tightly and the case hugs the iPod touch the way any slider case should. The edges of the juice pack at a tiny bit higher than the screen in order to hold the touch in place. This has the added benefit of providing some “lay on the table” protection. At the same time the raised part is subtle enough that it will not interfere with using the device.
From the back you can see just how nice the fit is. The cut out for the camera and microphone are sized just large enough to not interfere but small enough to protect the lens. That’s another advantage of this case over using a naked touch: the lens becomes recessed and is therefore less prone to scratches.
The juice pack air has a status indicator on the back that, at the push of a button, tells you how much juice is left. It also lets you know when the battery is plugged in and charging. That is awfully helpful lest you THINK you are charging the battery and then discover that it didn’t at just the moment you are going to rely on it to keep your iPod running.
Directly below the line of LEDs you will find an on/off switch. This is great if you want to run down the charge of the touch first and only then, when it is needed, begin using the juice pack’s charge.
There is another reason the switch is so useful. When we were at CES Judie taught me a great trick that I have found quite helpful. She suggested using the iPod (or iPhone) for a period of time and then turning on the juice pack for a brief period to “top off” the charge. I have not run formal tests but it DOES seem to keep everything up and running a bit longer.
Directly below that you will find the micro-USB port. It is protected by a small overhang of material. As mophie explains, “You can use the included USB cable to charge the juice pack air™ and iPod touch simultaneously or charge the juice pack air™ on its own.”
The juice pack air for iPod touch has an odd shape at the bottom. Because it needs to have a dock connector at the bottom there needs to be a thicker area in the lower portion of the battery case. Instead of having it flat across the bottom as you might expect it is thicker in the center and then tapers down at either side. This allows the internal connection for the sync/charge functionality, along with a place for the micro-USB charing connection for the battery itself, while leaving both the speaker and the 3.5mm headset jack open and accessible. In other words there is no need to EVER remove the touch from the case… Unless you want it small and light.
This design, what they refer to as a “Pass-Through Design”, is probably the simplest way to make all the connections AND lose none of the functionality. Yes, while at first it struck me as an odd design choice it actually is an excellent one that works remarkably well.
I love the juice pack air design. If I didn’t I would not have been using one since they first came on the market. This version extends the line and, since I am actually disappointed with the battery life of the touch at times, especially when playing games, it is a great addition. As I expected I love the soft-touch material and the fit and finish of the case/battery is excellent. Yes, it does look a bit odd at the bottom but, as I said, I think they made the right choices here.
The biggest issue with the juice pack for iPod touch is the fact that it adds significant weight and bulk to the device. (Here it is next to my iPhone 4. As you can see it brings them pretty much in line size-wise.) EVERY battery case adds weight and bulk to the device they are designed to work with but it is especially noticeable with the iPod touch since it is SO thin and SO light. Still, if you need to double the useable time you get from the device it is not an unreasonable trade-off. Add to that the fact that the design of the case feels GREAT in the hand (no, seriously, the sloped sides and soft-touch material make it far more comfortable to hold than a naked iPod touch) and the added bulk is not really an issue in my opinion.
While I don’t see using the juice pack air on my iPod touch 100% of the time I can see myself using it quite a bit. After all, while the iPod touch does get good battery life I do have a tendency to push it rather hard.
You can order the juice pack air for iPod touch 4th generation directly from the mophie Web site.
What I Like: Fits perfectly; adds significant battery life; soft-touch material feels great; upper and lower portion fit tightly with no gaps; adds “lay on the table” protection; LEDs make it easy to see how much juice is left
What Needs Improvement: Adds weight and bulk to a device known for its small, light size; odd shape at the bottom may turn some off