mophie juicepak air for iPhone 4 - battery charger review

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.

Hardware

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

Usage

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.

Conclusion

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.

Get your mophie juicepak air for iPhone 4 now from the TiPb iPhone 4 Accessory Store...

Pros

  • Convenient case form factor
  • 70% recharge for iPhone
  • Pass-through recharge for simultaneous charge
  • Solid construction

Cons

  • Uses Micro-USB so not compatible with dock accessories
  • 70% charge still means big case

TiPb review rating

TiPb iPhone 4.5-star rated

Photos

[gallery link="file" columns="2"]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

mophie juicepak air for iPhone 4 - battery charger review

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I really wish they'd thought about people using skins with slider and made it a little looser.
I use the Wrapsol drop protection skin and I love it. IT has saved my phone from drops. Even face down and back down drops...even a toss! So I never take the skin off unless I'm changing it.
anyway since it is thick, it makes it difficult to take the mophie juice pack air off.
So I'm gonna go with the external battery...the larger one that also works with the iPad.
I really wish Mophie had thought about skin usage during their design process.

You're sound was great at the beginning of the review, Rene. It sounds like you're getting that Blue Yeti dialed in now.

Two questions:

  1. When connecting the juicepak (with an iPhone inside) with a computer via Micro-USB cable, can you also sync it with iTunes or does the juicepak connection only let through electricity but no data?
  2. When you have this case on the iPhone continuously, does it constantly charge the iPhone (so that the internal battery is only used when the juicepak is empty), or how does it work exactly?

Thanks!

The juicepack air charges and syncs to itunes with the case on.
Both batteries will be charged.
When you use it, you can choose to keep the iphone battery charged, or only use it when the iphones battery is near-dead. The second choice uses less power, so you can go longer than if it constantly charges the iphone.
All these questions are answered on Mophie's FAQ website.

NIce case, but I prefer the Pong Research <a href="http://www.pongresearch.com/science.html"> iPhone case </a>. Studies conducted by numerous scientific teams in several nations have raised troubling questions about possible associations between heavy cell phone use and serious health dangers. That's why I investigated ways to cell phone radiation protection . In the end though, I found a couple of reviews of Pong Research's cases, that convinced me to give it a try. This case is built with an antenna in between layers of the back cover, which reduces exposure to radiation while optimizing the mobile reception.