Review: Mophie Juice Pack Air for Apple iPhone 6
Apple’s iPhone 6 has its fans, but few are truly enamoured with the battery life. So what do you to do fix it? One solution is with a case that features a battery inside. Does it work?
Features and performance
When it comes to battery life, the iPhone 6’s 1810mAh battery isn’t the most amazing thing in the world. Far from it, actually, with a rough expectation of a day possible from that little battery, and some people getting far less.
A battery bank will help, but Mophie’s solution is to turn the battery bank into a case, something you won’t want to undock your phone from and will, in essence, keep your phone charged beyond the usual time that your battery goes for.
On the whole, battery banks — of which the Juice Pack Air technically qualifies as — don’t have a whole lot of reviewable features.
Are they easy to hold? Are they well designed? Does it supply power?
Those are pretty much all the questions that need to be answered here, and Mophie’s Juice Pack Air checks off all of them, with a battery bank that supplies power to your iPhone by way of a Lightning port (ding!), an easy way to hold everything together due to it being a case (ding!), and a some extra know-how that even includes spaces for allowing the speaker to work (ding-ish for design!).
In fact, the power Mophie provides should be enough to give you roughly double your regular phone life, the 2750mAh battery not so much acting as a second battery or bigger battery, but recharging your phone when the Juice Pack case is switched on.
That’s how the Juice Pack works: when you run out of power, you simply switch on the Juice Pack using the small switch at the back of the case and let it charge up your phone.
Alternatively, you can simply leave it switched on to keep your phone topped up at 100% battery life, and when the battery runs out, the phone will just run down its life as per normal.
Mophie also helps you figure out how much life is left in the case, offering a battery life metre on the back when you press a small button. Up to four LEDs will light up when you press that button, with the large amount of LEDs indicative of how much battery life is left.
And “easy” is kind of what the Mophie Juice Pack Air is, offering a strong and thick plastic battery case for owners of the Apple iPhone 6.
One thing we really like is the inclusion of a microUSB port, because just like how pretty much all battery bricks charge from a microUSB port — the international standard for charging phones — the Mophie Juice Pack Air charges via microUSB also, meaning it shouldn’t be hard to find somewhere to plug it in.
Better, it also means the microUSB port acts as a docking mechanism, which means you can plug it straight into your computer if you ever lose or misplace a Lightning cable.
The thickness, however, is a little hard to get used to.
Remember how thick the iPhone 3GS was? Remember in 2009 how it used to stretch your pants pocket with its 12.3mm thickness?
Well the Mophie Juice Pack Air is thicker again, at 15.49mm.
Granted, there’s a battery here, and it not only acts as a casing for your phone, but provides power to it as well, but when you take the dimensions of the 4.7 inch iPhone 6 and you throw in thickness comparable to a six year-old phone you find that you’re not the happiest of campers.
And the iPhone 6’s diminutive (in comparison) thickness/thinness is partly to blame, with a curved edge of 6.9mm making it harder to go to something almost triple that.
Mophie’s Juice Pack Air isn’t helped by how easily grubby it gets.
Greasy hands? Not so clean table? An odd spray of water or something else? It shows up, and the matte black finish of the Juice Pack Air tends to look less sexy than you’d otherwise expect.
A heavy wipe down should clear most of it up, but it’s fairly easy to scratch or leave undesirable marks, so just keep that in mind the next time you decide to put your phone down on the bench at the pub, or a table that you haven’t cleaned up.
One final thing bothers us, and will bug you too if you decide to plug in a pair of headphones.
In order to do that basic act of plugging in your earphones, you need to plug in a headphone extender.
It’s not a big bit of cable, and it comes with the Mophie Juice Pack Air, but it’s still annoying, the cable hanging out of the bottom of the phone casing, and generally not going with anything else.
Heaven forbid you leave the cable at home or somewhere else, you won’t be able to plug in a pair of earphones while the iPhone sits inside the case.
Essentially, the problem here is thickness in that the Juice Pack Air just has too much of it. This excess thickness makes the headset jack recessed, bringing to light the same problem the first iPhone — the metal one that never officially came to Australia — had, and requiring that headphone jack extender.
Some headphone cables might make it through.
We tested quite a few headphones and found one cable that worked, but it was only a standard stereo cable and lacked the remote. Almost everything else was a little too thick to fit through the hole or too short for the length, and while Apple’s EarPods get close, the length of the connection jack isn’t long enough to give you the force to push it into the headset jack itself.
You could technically make the EarPods work by threading the cable through the Juice Pack case first, but the moment you disconnect, it’s not going to be easy to plug it in without rethreading it again.
In the end, you’ll find yourself getting frustrated by Mophie’s shortcomings, or long-comings as the case appears to be. Bluetooth headphone wearers won’t suffer from this, mind you, but those of you still reliant on cables, you’ll almost definitely feel the pinch from a lack of length.
Anyone shopping for solution to Apple’s battery woes will have likely come into contact with Mophie’s Juice Packs at one point in time. They’re not new, and while it is Mophie’s most recognised product, is easily one of the more common concepts out there.
That said, the Juice Pack serves as an excellent battery pack, and we like it, but if this is the thinnest Mophie can make a product — thin because it carries the name “Air” — it should probably be branded differently.
Make no mistake, there is nothing air-like about the Juice Pack Air, save for it being the thinnest out of the entire bunch that Mophie makes.
In fact, after a few days with the Juice Pack Air used on the iPhone 6, we’d rather carry it with us as an extra than leave the phone inside the pack altogether, and here’s why: if you’re already carrying a battery bank with you to charge your phone, this is essentially the same thing, but without needing to plug in a cable.
With that in mind, if we couldn’t survive on the iPhone 6’s battery — and there are people who definitely struggle with that one day life — we’d go for one of the Mophie Juice Packs, but keep the thing charged in a piece of hand luggage, say a handbag or a backpack. When we started to run down the life, we could simply snap it into place and let it charge up, skipping that clunky “plug your phone into a cable plugged into a battery bank” solution that so many are carrying around.
Simply put, as an external charger, Mophie’s Juice Pack Air is a more convenient way to keep the iPhone 6 juiced up, but as a case, it’s just a little too awkward to intentionally use it inside the case. If that doesn’t bother you, have at it, but we’ll stick to using it as an external accessory.