The mophie juicepak air for iPhone 4 is a lighter charging solution for highly mobile users. If you need to keep going but want the minimum of bulk to slow your down -- if you need a case that can give your 70% of a charge at just about 70% of the size and slightly less cost than a juicepak plus, then here's your solution. To see how it held up for me under the rigors of CES 2011, read on for the review after the break!
As I said in my mophie juicepak plus review, trade shows are the ultimate test of any battery for me. I'm on the go for 18 hours a day and my iPhone 4 is my lifeline to the world. It keeps me in contact, it lets me help run TiPb, and on top of all of that it lets me shoot all the show video and photos you see here on the site. It's bad enough AT&T hits my iPhone 4 battery like a freight train but the constant usage would run any device down. Luckily the mophie juicepak air packs some extra charge in a fairly unobtrusive package.
The mophie juicepak plus is black with a painted silver band meant to match the aesthetics of your iPhone. Mophie told me at CES that they'd done a lot of engineering work to prevent breaks around the cutouts and increase protection and it shows. It is a slider case and there have been some worries about slider cases scratching the glass but I didn't have any problems. (I also wipe down my iPhone before sliding.) Also, it sometimes takes a few, wiggling tries to get the iPhone dock port lined up and properly seated.
There are cutouts for the 3.5mm headset jack, rear camera and flash, the mute switch and sleep and volume buttons. The cutouts are deep due to the size of the juicepak but didn't interfere with usage. Not having button extenders like the juicepak plus was a different kind of compromise -- less worry about them not depressing properly but you still have to dig for them sometimes.
The micro-USB charger is at the bottom right. Not using a dock cable to charge means you have to carry a separate micro-USB cable around with you, and doesn't let you use your existing dock-compatible car or video cables while the mophie is on. Understandable given the size of a 30-pin dock port but still annoying at times.
On the handy side there's a series of battery level lights so you can always tell how much of a charge your mophie is packing with the touch of a button
The juicepack air is the lighter, slighter charging solution in mophie's stable. It weighs less than the juicepak plus but it also provides less power. About 70% of a regular charge. That's still a good boost, though not as good as the plus given it's still significant size.
In my CES tests those results weren't just marketing. It's really tough to judge consistently since usage patterns always vary but when I slapped on the juicepak air I could pretty much go as long as I had on the iPhone-only charge. (I carried a juicepak plus with me as well -- them were long days!)
When you charge the mophie via micro-USB it passes the charge on to the iPhone as well, so at night you can charge them both without having to plug in multiple charges for each one, or get up and switch.
The mophie juicepak air is still bulky but not as much as the juicepak plus. It extends battery life but not as much as the plus. It doesn't cost as much either. If you're a hardcore road warrior the difference in bulk and price isn't a big deal -- get the juicepak plus. If you're light user who only needs a little boost now and then, save yourself a few ounces and bucks and go for the air.
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