The iPhone 5 gets decent battery life, considering how thin it is, but it certainly doesn’t last all day. That’s why I decided to pick up a Mophie Juice Pack Air battery case for it. How does this compare to the Juice Pack for the iPhone 4? And is it worth $99? Read on for my full review!
The iPhone Needs Juice
I was initially quite impressed by the iPhone 5’s battery life. It definitely lasted longer than my iPhone 4S in day-to-day use! But over time, it has deteriorated significantly. So much so, that I am beginning to wonder if my battery is defective. It recently dropped from 20% to powering off in less than a minute!
Even a brand-new fully-charged iPhone 5 really doesn’t last all day for a heavy user like me, and I doubt any phone will for a long time. I received a Mophie Juice Pack for my iPhone 4 as a gift, and it really helped when I was traveling. But that Juice Pack doesn’t fit on an iPhone 5, so I gave it away.
That’s why I was so pleased to hear Mophie announce the availability of a Juice Pack for the iPhone 5.
But, boy, did they fumbled this launch! The Juice Pack Helium came out first, priced at $79 but not packing enough power for a full iPhone 5 recharge. Then Mophie announced the Juice Pack Air for the iPhone 5, priced at $99 and matching the internal battery’s capacity. I can’t imagine they will sell many Heliums, since the Air is almost as thin and light, and brings much better performance for only a little more money!
If you’re interested, here’s a great comparison of the Juice Pack Helium and Juice Pack Air
Buying a Juice Pack Air
The Juice Pack Air is not yet widely available, though the Helium can be found in the Apple Store and online. In fact, the Air is only this week beginning to appear in stores! My local Best Buy store had at least 3 of each color, however, so I decided to pick one up there instead of ordering from Amazon. That said, I’ve embedded a live Amazon pricing widget below so you can grab one from them if you want.
The Juice Pack comes in a slim and attractive package that opens easily instead of the typical hard plastic shell. I love that it is pre-charged so you can take it out and start using it immediately. This is a big help for someone desperate for a charge on the go!
The Juice Pack package includes a Micro-USB cable and a short headphone extender. The former is necessary since, even though it features a Lightning connector internally, the Juice Pack uses Micro-USB to charge. The latter is just a nice thing to have, since some headphones won’t fit into the hole in the bottom of the case.
The Juice Pack Air in Real Life
Overall, I’m impressed by the Juice Pack Air. It’s well built, with a nice slightly-rubbery texture. The bottom snaps on very securely and features nice “speaker redirectors” so you can still hear the phone. The Air is quite slim, too, adding very little bulk to the phone!
Unlike previous Juice Packs, the Air for iPhone 5 is a slide-in design, making it easier to insert and remove the phone. And the integrated volume, mute, and power switches are much easier to use than the recessed cutout on the iPhone 4 Air and iPhone 5 Helium cases! The power switch and charge LEDs are now on the back rather than the bottom and they seem well-built too.
I do have an issue with the Micro-USB port. It’s charge-only, so you can’t use it to sync or connect to a vehicle entertainment system (like the Sync system in our Ford Flex). I’m not really troubled at having to bring along another cable (I already carry a Micro-USB cable anyway) but the lack of data passthrough is a surprising design defect.
My partial solution is to carry the Apple Micro-USB to Lightning adapter on a Micro-USB cable rather than the official lightning cable. That way, I can charge the Juice Pack or connect the iPhone using the same cable. But I still can’t jack into the phone without pulling off the bottom of the Juice Pack. I would have preferred data passthrough or a Lightning port on the Juice Pack.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 5 is well worth the money for folks on the go who need more battery live. It’s slim and light enough to carry all the time and helps protect the phone to boot! Although the charge-only Micro-USB port is a disappointment, the increasingly-wireless world means I can live with it. Overall, it’s a solid buy.
Buy one at Amazon and help support my blog!
- Doubles the iPhone 5 battery life (or more, if your phone is on the older side)
- Well-built, slim-ish and light-ish enough to carry
- Nice design touches like slide-in design and integrated volume buttons
- Comes pre-charged in easy-to-open packaging
- Charge-only Micro-USB port means you’ll have more cables to carry and might have to rip off the bottom sometimes
- $99 is a little pricey
- The availability of an inferior Helium model will confuse customers