A little over a week ago, I picked up the Mophie Juice Pack Air ($80) with intentions of doubling my iPhone 3GS’s battery life… keeping it operable during a pair of transatlantic flights. (Not all United flights have power jacks in coach.) As it turns out, the combo Mophie case/battery was probably unnecessary. After about 4 hours of Apple iTunes movie rentals (State of Play, Wolverine) with lowered screen brightness and, of course, all wireless disabled during my outbound flight, I still had over 50% of charge remaining… without tapping Mophie. And on the way home, the iPhone hardly broke a sweat as I read the Kindle edition of Nine Dragons. Having said that, the Juice Pack Air did come in handy — providing peace of mind, knowing I could recharge the iPhone’s battery at will, combined with providing us some flexibility in how/when we used our one European AC adapter.
The original Juice Pack Air shipped in three colors (black, white, purple) of shiny plastic that I haven’t found very appealing. But, the recently introduced “soft touch” red model, which has more of a matte finish, looks infinitely better in my opinion. However, the Juice Pack Air isn’t quite as sleek and contoured as the marketing materials would have you believe. Especially the clearly visible, wide side seams (pic below) — a bit of a surprise given Mophie’s somewhat deceptive packaging, where they’ve dropped a black banner across the joints. Then again, I may be somewhat anal as my non-techie associates who’ve seen this Juice Pack Air seem to like the looks and have been astounded to learn the Juice Pack Air is a case with a battery molded right into it.
Unlike replacement batteries, an option on most phones that don’t begin with i, the Juice Pack Air and the iPhone are both charged via one provided micro USB cable that works just fine with the iPhone’s tiny power brick. For what I suspect is normal usage, once the internal iPhone battery is nearly depleted, flip the JuicePack’s switch from red to green to refill the iPhone’s internal battery.
Overall, I’m relatively pleased with Mophie’s solution. The Juice Pack Air probably doubles iPhone size and weight, but I do appreciate their (slightly flawed) design. And those with battery life issues would find it valuable. For those on a tighter budget, Monoprice offers a less elegant but lighter weight and economical solution. As for me, it turns out I don’t have much need for an extended battery given chargers at home, work, and in the car. So I’ll be listing this in the Amazon Marketplace for maybe 50% of what I paid.