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March 18, 2013 • Reviews

Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 5 Review

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve looked at a number of different solutions for keeping your iPhone 5 up and running; we’ve looked at the PoP’n Charge battery, the mophie juice pack helium, and, most recently, reviewed the PowerSkin Battery Case for iPhone 5. This time out we are going to take a look at another battery case from mophie and then, in the next few days, offer a side-by-side compare and contrast of these different solutions.

The mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 is a familiar case to anyone who has used any of mophie’s juice pack battery cases. The formfitting mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 protects the sides top, bottom and back of your iPhone 5 while leaving you with complete access to the iPhone 5’s screen.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

The battery case comes with the case and a USB to microUSB charging cable

After a quick look at the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5, and you might think you were looking at the juice pack helium. The cases do look the same. While the juice pack helium is 13% thinner than any of the company’s previous cases it also offers just a 1500mAh battery. That means the juice pack helium only gives you an extra 80% of battery life.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

The upper portion houses a 1700mAh battery

The mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5, on the other hand, isn’t quite as thin, but unless you have the two batteries sitting side-by-side you likely will not know the difference. For the extra weight and bulk you’ll get a 1700mAh battery. That means the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 doubles your battery capacity. So by simply bumping the battery capacity from the 1500mAh of the mophie juice pack helium to the 1700 mAh of the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5, you’ll gain significant confidence that you can make it through a full day with a single charge.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 slides in for both protection and charge

What does a 1700mAh battery (and double the usual battery life) mean in the real world? The mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 will get an additional eight hours of talk time on the 3G, forty hours of additional audio playback and ten hours of additional video playback. When you are browsing the web, you’ll get an extra eight hours on the 3G, eight hours on an LTE network, and at least an additional ten hours if you are on Wi-Fi.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

The design of the case is, as noted previously, the same as you will find on the slightly thinner juice pack helium. The mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 is a two-piece case.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

You can charge the iPhone 5 with a microUSB cable now

The main portion — the upper 3/4 of the case — is a plastic shell housing the battery. The lower portion of the case — 1/4 of the total case — houses the electronics. That’s where you will find the microUSB charging port. This connects to the built-in Lightning connector on the inside of the case. On the outside of the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 there is a standby switch that allows you to toggle between charging and standby mode. There is also a button that allows you to activate the LED power indicators and see how much remaining charge you have.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

Standby toggle and indicator button and lights

mophie goes into a good bit of detail about how to best use the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5. They recommend using the iPhone’s internal battery until just 20% of the origin charge remains. At that point they recommend turning on the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 and charging the iPhone until it has 80% of its charge. Why 80%? As mophie notes, the iPhone “requires more power to charge past 80%”. Turning it off when it reaches 80% will let you have the most impact in the long turn. How do you stop the charging process? Simply flip the toggle switch back to “Standby”.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

Like the juice pack helium, the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 has pass through ports on the front that allow the microphone and speaker to remain open while the smartphone is in the battery case. And because the camera and flash are left exposed, the noise-cancelling microphone that sits between the two remains open and accessible as well.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

I hate having to use a 3.5mm dongle

I like the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5, but I have two issues with it. First, like the juice pack helium, in order to use most headphones you’ll need to employ the included 3.5mm dongle. That’s because the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5 simply has a pass-through from the outside of the case to the iPhone 5’s 3.5 mm port.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

Lose the dongle and pay $10 for a new one

I really can’t tell you how much I detest this design; it limits your ability to use your choice of headphones without employing the additional dongle. Add in the fact that most people will lose the dongle within a relatively short period of time, and you will be out of luck unless you purchase an extra/replacement dongle for $9.95. (It is worth noting that, since we have seen this design on several different batteries at this point, I’m beginning to wonder if there isn’t some apple mandate that requires a pass-through rather than a built-in adapter in order for companies to produce “made for iPhone” accessories.)

The second issue I have with this battery pack is that it removes the ability to sync through the case. Yes, you can charge your iPhone while in the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5– in fact using this case allows you to charge with a microUSB connection rather than the with Apple’s (stupidly) proprietary lightning connector but you will not be able to sync your content to your computer. This is far less of an issue in 2013 since you can now sync over the air, but for those who still like a cable sync will not be happy.

mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5

The final point to make here, and one that will come into play when we compare and contrast the four different battery cases, is whether or not you want to use your external battery as your iPhone’s case. If you want to have the added weight and bulk of the battery on your iPhone ALL THE TIME, then this is a great option for you. If, however, you switch out cases or you have decals or other sorts of protection that stick to the iPhone, then this case won’t be too much help. I know a lot of people who use this particular style of external battery and love it. If you are one of them, you’ll like both the juice pack helium and the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5. For my money I recommend spending a little more and putting up with the added weight of the mophie juice pack air for iPhone 5. The extra battery run time is worth it. You can learn more on the product page.

MSRP: $99.95

What I Like: Doubles battery life; Comes in three colors — Black, White and Red; Protects while it charges; Adds some lay-on-the-table protection

What Needs Improvement: Most headphones require use of the 3.5mm dongle; Cannot use protective decals with this case; Removed cabled sync functionality

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

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