Yes, the iPhone 4 has been out for ages and so has the Mophie Juice Pack Air, a case designed for the iPhone 4 that includes a rechargeable battery that extends the life of your phone considerably. Until recently, the idea of doing a review of something as simple as an iPhone case seemed less interesting than it is worth. That is, until I found myself in a situation where I desperately needed it.
To start, the Mophie Juice Pack Air is a classy hard case that attaches to your iPhone using two interlocking parts. The bottom section includes a dock connector and a micro USB port for syncing and charging your phone and the Mophie. Along the bottom sit four white LED lights and a round silver button. By pressing the button, you get a clear indication of the current charge level of the Juice Pack’s onboard battery. When all four lights are lit solid, you can expect the Juice Pack to extend the battery life of your iPhone for up to six hours of talk time. Well, that’s what the manufacturer claims.
In a real-world scenario, I found the Juice Pack provided my phone with enough battery life for about 12-14 hours of normal occasional use. A little talking, some Web browsing and app running, and a lot of stand-by time drained the reserve energy fairly quickly. Still, this extra power is intended to be used in emergencies and not as a primary alternative to having to charge the device at all. So, how did the Mophie save me from a lot of frustration?
Reporting live on location can be difficult if you want more than a phone call from the scene. Capturing video footage and uploading it is also impractical, especially if you’re on location and no public Wi-Fi is available. Enter Qik and the Mophie Juice Pack Air. Using the built-in camera on the iPhone and some live streaming software from Qik, we were able to capture events as they unfolded and relay the video back to the studio where they broadcast it out to our viewers. Video and Web streaming on an iPhone can drain its battery very quickly, and before long we were certain that the battery would have been drained before we got through the break. Thankfully, we had the iPhone 4 in the Juice Pack, and a flick of the switch along the side activated the backup power and kept the phone running throughout the broadcast.
The battery itself can be activated and deactivated using a simple red and green switch positioned in the bottom-left corner of the case. You can reserve this essential power for when you need it most, which is exactly what it’s designed for. In addition, a deep recess is created by the bulky backing of the case, protecting your back-facing camera’s lens from harm due to accidental friction with your pocket or a desk top.
While the Mophie Juice Pack Air may be a bulky and heavy case, it does a great job of keeping the phone alive when you need it most. After some time using it, I can’t see why anyone would want to use a case that doesn’t provide some extra functionality if its own.