Review - Mophie Juice Pack (not the Juice Pack Air)
The battery life on my iPhone is laughable. If I want to actually use it, like make use of it, then it's dead by after lunch. With 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, work and personal mail, yada yada, it's a joke.
Here's a picture of me with my first external battery pack. This got me through the day, but it wasn't very convenient.
When the Mophie Juice Pack Air was announced, I was thrilled. Over the moon. A battery pack that was also a case? Sleek and doubled your battery life? Brilliant.
I ordered one immediately on Amazon. When it showed up, I learned that there's actually a "Juice Pack" and the "Juice Pack Air." This distinction had escaped me...turns out I ordered the original Juice Pack, rather than the more sleek and form-fitting Juice Pack Air.
I did some research, and found out that there's basically three differences between the Juice Pack and Juice Pack Air.
|Juice Pack||Juice Pack Air|
|Chunky and only covers 7/8ths of the back of the phone.||Sleek and covers the entire phone.|
|1800 mAh||1200 mAh|
|Always on (always trying to charge)||On/Off switch lets you decide when it's charging|
I liked the slim idea of the Air, but I figured 50% more mAh was better for me as a power-user, so I stuck with the standard Mophie Juice Pack, not the Air.
Now, let me say, I really want to like the Mophie Juice Pack. Truly. I hate being negative because I realize there's a company and actual humans behind this product. However, it just doesn't live up to real world usage.
I've had the Juice Pack for just about 60 days. I don't work in construction and I don't throw my phone around. Still, the surface of the Juice Pack is rubbing away in a really unattractive way.
See the picture at right? The shiny patches on the corners are where it's wearing away. This is after 2 months.
The sides of the pack have, for some reason, (perhaps grippy-ness?) rubber strips about 2 inches long. On both sides it's wearing away. On the one side it's sliding off and the adhesive/glue stuff is showing. It's very frustrating to see such poor construction around my little
phone Star Trek Data Pad.
I use the pack all day and so far, it DOES get me through the day, from 8 am to about 6pm before I need to start worrying. I have the brightness of the phone at 30%, Wi Fi on, Bluetooth on, GPS off. I figured with 1800 mAh would get me 12+ hours of normal usage, as the specifications talk about numbers like 28 hours of audio playback and 12 hours of 2G (Edge) talk time, but still, 10 hours is not bad.
The Mophie Juice Pack has 4 small LEDs on the back that tell you how much charge the pack has left. The features page says it has "Smart Battery Technology [that] instructs the iPhone to always drain out the juice pack first." As a technologist, I think this statement isn't really fair, as the iPhone thinks it's plugged-in when the batter is attached. When the "plug power" (in this case, the battery) stops, then the iPhone's battery stars. This is the same behavior as my old $10 4 AA battery charger.
The Juice Pack doesn't have an on-off switch, so it tries to charge the iPhone immediately, even if it doesn't need it, which appears to use power. For me, this means that the Juice Pack's battery is dead for me by around 1pm, which means I'm on my own by the early afternoon. I'd prefer to have the opposite behavior, which is enabled by the switch on the Juice Pack Air. I'd like to drain the iPhone's own battery first, then have the Juice Pack kick in.
A nice feature of the battery is that the charging cable is a standard mini-USB, which is more standard than the iPhone cable. However, one oddity is that sometimes I'll have the phone inside the battery and a charging cable attached to the battery and both are discharging. I'd expect the battery to always charge when plugged in. In these cases I have to separate the battery from the phone in order to charge the former. It's odd, as it's caused me to end up with a dead phone battery even while the external one was plugged in, just not charging.
Power Drop Off
After only 2 months, even though I discharge the battery fully (via normal use) every day, and charge it overnight, its lifetime had dropped already. This is after about 60 full cycles. When the battery light indicator reaches 2 out of 4 LEDs, it drops off dramatically within an hour. Basically 4 LEDs to 2 LEDs is 3 hours and 2 LEDs to 1 LED is an hour. This is anecdotal, to be sure, but it's everyday and it's dramatic to the point of pissing me off.
Unreasonable Expectations? Maybe.
The specs say 350 hours of standby? I can't see how, unless EVERYTHING is turned off...perhaps 350 hours of airplane mode. I'd like a single 18 hour day of normal usage. Or, even a reliable 12.
It's so bad that I have purchased car chargers for both cars and I'm forced to top-up at least once, sometimes twice a day.
It was US$100, which is a lot for anything, including a battery. It's now ugly after two months and at this rate, I'll be surprised if the charge lasts the rest of the year.
If you have this battery, leave a comment here. Did I get a dud? We'll see and I'll keep this review updated.