Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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November 12, 2011 • Reviews

iPhone 4 Gear Review: Mili Power Pack

The best part about the iPhone is that you can do practically everything with it. Watch movies, listen to music, send emails, tweet, surf the web, and of course play “Angry Birds”. All this great stuff, though, can do a number on your battery. If you want to really stretch your battery life you need an external battery pack, and that’s where the Mili Power Pack comes in! Does it boost your battery, and is it worth the considerable bulk? Read on to find out!

Here’s what the Mili promises:

  • Innovative design: Mili Power Pack 4 is a rechargeable battery contained within a thin, lightweight, and fashionable protective case
  • Apple Certified: Officially certified by Apple Inc. as a “Made for iPhone 4” product!
  • External Battery: Mili Power Pack 4 triples the battery life of your iPhone 4
iPhone 4/4S With Power Pack 4
Talk time up to 7 hours on 3G
up to 14 hours on 2G
up to 18.25 hours on 3G
up to 39.05 hours on 2G
Standby time up to 300 hours up to 975 hours
Internet use up to 6 hours on 3G
up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi
up to 17.25 hours on 3G
up to 29.95 hours on Wi-Fi
Video playback up to 10 hours up to 32.5 hours
Audio playback up to 40 hours up to 107.5 hours

Let’s start with the style. This is a case-type battery, meaning your iPhone wears the battery pack like a winter parka. I say parka because this is a bulky case. Your iPhone battery triples, but it also feels like your iPhone triples! It is very comfortable to hold despite the size, and joking aside it’s not unwieldy. My first thought was actually that it made the iPhone feel like an old school Palm Treo, with the round, thick edges. You simply slide your (naked) iPhone between the rails and right onto the dock connector to put it on. It fits very, very tight, and while there was no issue with my screen protector I doubt a full body skin would work with this case. The Mili also doesn’t come all the way up on the iPhone, making it look like the phone is wearing 2/3 of a fat suit. It also leaves the top two corners completely exposed and vulnerable.

Moving around the case, there’s not much to it. Inside there’s the dock connector, along with a cover for it that just begs to be lost almost immediately. There’s also a hollow area for each speaker so nothing gets muffled. On the back, there’s a dip to accommodate the camera and flash, and further down there’s a kickstand. I love this feature, since the main use of an extended battery is often for media like movie watching. It also makes for a very handy angle for landscape email and web surfing. Along the right side there’s a 4-LED strip that lights up according to how much juice is in the battery, and below that is the power button. Hitting the power button when the iPhone is connected activates the battery, and if there’s no iPhone connected it lets you know how charged the case is. On the bottom is the USB connector (covered by a rubber flap) and the left side is clear. Aesthetically I really like the look of the Mili; the black and silver matches my black iPhone quite well. My one quibble is that shiny black is quite the fingerprint magnet.

For reference, these are my go-to apps and use:
-Twitter (checked every 30 minutes or so)
-Email (3 accounts checked every 15 minutes)
-Yammer
-Light web browsing
-Light gaming (mainly Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies, and Words With Friends)
-Beejive IM for GTalk (1-2 active GTalk conversations a day, between 15-30 messages sent)
-Around 20 minutes of talking (mainly on bluetooth in my car)
-30 minutes of Pandora
-CNBC/MSNBC news alerts (5-10 per day)
-Runkeeper (30-60 minutes of run tracking per day)
With this use pattern I typically get a day of use, around 6 hours of active use and 15-17 hours of standby. So how did the Mili Power Pack work for me?

Mili says it triples your battery life and gives you some very impressive usage numbers. However, I’m less technical and more experiential, so I devised a test. I charged the Mili fully before I began my experiment but did not charge it from the time my tests started. First, I let my iPhone drop to ~50% battery life. At that point, I popped it on the Mili and let it hang out on the case until it was at 100%. Once it was fully charged, I pulled it off and went about my normal use. This was yesterday afternoon. I didn’t charge my iPhone last night, and by mid-morning today I was down to ~20% battery life. By noon my iPhone was totally dead. I put it back on the Mili (which indicated it was at 100%), and my phone recharged enough to boot back up in about 10 minutes. At this point the Mili had dropped to 75% and my iPhone was at about 5%. At 2:30 or so, the Mili was dead, and my iPhone was at 75%. Currently it’s at 50%, and my usage indicates 10 hours with over 1 day of use since my last charge. It’s safe to say that I’ll easily reach 2-2.5 days of charge if my iPhone is left alone, and that’s a huge boost over the nightly charges it usually gets.

The Mili Power Pack 4 impressed me immensely. I can see this being invaluable on, say, a weekend camping trip or other situation where you’re away from a power outlet, or on a long plane ride where you want to watch a movie and still need some juice to call for a cab when you land. And the case-style means it’s securely attached to your phone, plus the kickstand adds a nice bonus feature. My biggest issues are that it requires a naked iPhone, so you do have to remove any case you already use, and the tight fit means it was a bit difficult to pull my iPhone out the first couple of times until I had a handle on it. But that’s easily offset by the huge battery life boost in such a stylish package, and it’s an accessory that belongs in any gear bag.

MSRP: $119.99, but you can buy the Mili Power Pack 4 from Xengadget for $79.95 

What I Like: Big battery boost; kickstand makes a nice bonus feature; charges (and can sync iPhone) through USB

What Needs Improvement: Tight fit; requires you to remove any other cases; doesn’t cover the top 1/3 of the iPhone

2 Responses to " iPhone 4 Gear Review: Mili Power Pack "

  1. dougom says:

    I tested an earlier version of the Mili which *did* cover the top of the iPhone, but I much prefer the Mophie Juice Pack.  FWIW.

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