mophie juice pack helium for iPhone 5 review

The mophie juice pack helium is an all new, all lighter and thinner battery charging case for the lighter and thinner iPhone 5. It features a 1500mAh, barely more than the iPhone 5's built-in 1440mAh battery, and when translated into external battery pack terms, that packs roughly an 80% refill charge.

The design of the mophie juice pack helium is similar to previous generation juice packs, though longer and even more svelte. Like Apple, mophie has made a conscious choice to emphasize extreme thinness and lightness over everything else. (mophie does, however, make a juice pack air that provides more battery.)

As you'd expect, cut-outs leave all buttons accessible, though ports are a different story. Since Apple relocated the 3.5mm headphone jack to the bottom, and that's where mophie packs much of its battery extension, they've had to figure out a work around. That comes in the form of a small extender that feels through a long hole in the juice pack and plugs into the 3.5mm port on the iPhone 5. You then plug your headphones into the extender.

Likewise, the Lightning port is covered, as 30-pin Dock connector was in prior mophie juice packs, and you have no access to it. Instead, also as before, you have a micro-USB port that charges the mophie and the iPhone 5 both. personally, I'd still prefer a Lightning port pass through. It's far more flexible than USB, and any iPhone owner will already have cables for it.

As it stands the USB port can't be used for more more than charging. None of the Lightning adapters work with it, obviously, so you have to take the mophie off to use, for example, the HDMI adapter. Also, you can't sync over USB to iTunes with the mophie on. You have to use Wi-Fi sync to connect to iTunes.

I don't sync with iTunes, wired or wireless, anymore (I have iCloud, I'm fine), and Wi-Fi sync works great, but for those who like to move large files around old school style, that'll be an annoyance.

The exterior of the mophie juice pack helium is covered in a soft-touch finish that feels even softer to the touch than previous models. Velvety even. It comes in two colors, the dark gray, which is available now, and the light gray, which ships next month.

The bottom section comes off like a cap, like with later versions of the juice packs for the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, and the top slides off.

There's the usual button on the back that will illuminate one of four lights to show you the current remaining charge level. In my nearly constant use over the last week and half, the indicator was accurate and the recharge consistently brought my iPhone back from the brink roughly 80%.

The good

  • Light, slim design
  • Recharges iPhone 5 80%

The bad

  • USB rather than Lightning prevents anything but charging

The bottom line

The mophie juice pack air is an interesting compromise, much like the iPhone 5 itself. While lighter and thinner than any juice pack before it, because the iPhone 5 is so much lighter than any iPhone, the net different is still appreciable -- an iPhone 5 in a juice pack helium feels solid.

If traveling light but staying charged is your number one priority, the mophie juice pack helium is just about perfect. If you're willing to sacrifice weight for more charging power, check out the juice pack air instead.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Looks pretty nice. Would you rather use this or something more external like a TYLT Powerplant?
  • I have two mophie power station duo's I keep in my travel bag, but the helium is much nicer to cary in a pocket. I'll use that first and switch to the power station if I have to.
  • Great review. Have you by chance had the opportunity to compare the Helium to the Air side-by-side? I think I prefer how the Air handles the power and volume buttons, but that's just based on the photos I've seen. I'm also somewhat disappointed with how they chose to handle the headphone port. I would have preferred a headphone port built into to the bottom of the unit, rather than relying on the supplied adapter. How have you found that aspect of the design?
  • Thanks! I'll keep that in mind when I'm in the market :)
  • Picked one up yesterday and love it. It's just right, feels great in your hand, charges just enough (for me) and I love the feel. It's very sturdy.
  • I do like mine, but it only has been able to charge back up to 61%, not the claimed 80%
  • Oh, and you also don't need to use the supplied adaptor for the earplug.....most earphones plug right in still, at least thats been my experience so far.
  • Really? ...then why do they have it? Maybe it depends on how fat the connector is?
  • I'd imagine for instances where a headphone manufacturer uses a perpendicular or angled port. Or just a fat connector.
  • That's just what I wanted to know, thanks. So the Apple earbuds will still plug in fine?
  • The i5 headphones DO fit in and work... but here's what's going to happen:
    In order to pull the headphones OUT, you'll be pulling the CABLE and not the fat bit.
    I can feel the strain that's putting on the thin cable as I pulled it out..
    (That's what she said)
  • Looks nice, I have 3 New Trent chargers, one for my man purse, one for my book bag and an extra one that I got during a sale.
  • Looks nice, but why isn't lightning used to charge the Mophie too??
  • Because Apple in their infinite wisdom doesn't license the female lightning port.
  • Seems that mophie failed to "Think Different" in terms of comparison to their prior products, as well as slider cases in general. Why does the smaller part of a slider case always need to be the bottom? It could be the top as well, or even closer to the middle. Would mean you are holding the bottom part, so adds to the security as well (No more bottom falling out and phone sliding out issues, though I know those are rare). But, for what the case is designed to do, which is get you through a long day of use, it seems to do the job well. May have to pick one of these up for my next trip to Disney World or Disneyland...
  • I think that's a conscious decision on their part.....IF you wanted to slide apart the case the access the lightning connector, you only need to slide off the smaller part, leaving a majority of the phone protected....
  • "Artfully" blurring pics in a review doesn't help me see the product. What I want in a review is to see the product clearly.
  • Really, the "bad" was the micro USB port instead of the Lightning port. Who doesn't own an micro USB cable considering it is the standard among every electronics manufacturer. While they should be using the built in charging port, perhaps Mophie is taking a smart approach and allowing you to charge your phone and case anywhere anytime without the $30 apple cable. Perhaps Mophie is being smart and not wanting to pay Apple for (2) Lightning ports, maybe the design would have required more length and would not be a good design. In the end I would rather just carry a cable with me for charging than a bulky case that adds way too much weight in the first place and does not protect the ports on the top or side and leaves them open to scratches, that should be under "bad" not the micro USB.
  • Hi Renne.
    i would like to know its effect on original battery. And my main concern is Camera. When u use flash specially, the picture contains the flash light burns? Can you elaborate more on that operations please? To me thats a big drawback.
  • Yeah, I noticed that a lot on my old Mophie case, it got really annoying sometimes.
  • I'm glad I found out the air is coming out for the 5 with covered buttons and higher percentage charge. Can't wait. Kinda dissapointed Mophie didn't announce both cases at the same time to avoid confusion with customers.
  • You can use a Helium without the extender, but it is awkward. The housing is just a mm or two taller than the fat part of the Apple earbuds cable, so you can *sometimes* get it in properly, but most of the time you have to snap off the bottom, thread the headphones, and snap it back in. Doable, but inconvenient. If the bottom panel was just a mm or 2 shorter, it would not be necessary. Some third party headphones work better, too, because they have a longer fat part and/or are stiffer at that end and therefore easier to set in the recessed jack. But the combination of the Helium and Apple's Earbuds is surprisingly inelegant. I still love the extra power, though
  • I often use headphones with an angled plug, so I'd need to use the adapter most times. To me, it seems like a bit of a design flaw not to incorporate the adapter into the bottom half of the case itself. I'll only be using this on days when I don't have access to an outlet (maybe once or twice a week, and travel), but I'd still prefer a cleaner design.
  • Agreed wholeheartedly -- it is my only real complaint about the Helium so far. I presume it was a manufacturing cost issue, but personally I would have gladly paid an extra few bucks to have a cleaner headset jack design.
  • A headphone adapter? I didn't realize that. Does it come with? I am really not sure how I feel about that now...I use my earbuds all the time, and that looks like a bit of an inconvenience. I wonder if the uNu ( suffers the same problem. I have used Mophie in the I know what to expect, except I didn't expect this.
  • If you look at the photos on the uNu on their website, it appears to be designed the same as mophie's case.
  • It comes with it, but you don't have to use it, though you may have to snap off the bottom, seat the headphones, and snap the bottom back in.
  • Rene, can you add a picture of the Helium case next to a naked iPhone - so we can see the difference in thickness? I can't seem to find a picture like that anywhere.
  • Nice but falls short, headphone adapter, USB non-syncing, smaller battery. While the delay of the Lighting port is understandable the other itmes should have been considered. Why is it so hard to think out of the box?
    So the deal breaker for me is non-Sync through the charging port. If I use the case it stays on all of the time, I prefer just to go external. The external can be left to charge in my room and carried all day/night, so my phone is not tied up charging a charger to charge my Phone. Best of luck is it works for your situation, enjoy it.
  • bought it, used it for about a week and sent it back. 2 main problems:
    1. the unit discolored from the grayish silver to a burnt brown on the back of the unit. Dont know if it was from the leather case I was using to carry it on my belt or from the unit overheating internally. The case I was using was black by the way.
    2. when connected to USB power I would get the dreaded yellow triangle on my iPhone saying charging was not supported with this device.
    Not happy with Mophie as their iphone 4 units functioned flawlessly... this seems like a rush to develop and get to market.... Returned for a refund and bought a Zuzo battery case. This one uses lightening cable for charge and sync.... waiting for that to arrive to see how that works.
  • I find the most interesting thing being battery capacity and price. 4/4s options: Air: 1500mAh $80 list
    Plus: 2000mAh $100 list Helium for 5: 1500mAh $80 List (priced like the Air for 4/4s)
    Air for 5: 1700mAh $100 List (priced like the Plus for 4/4s). I have a plus on my 4 and love it and the 2000mAh battery. I would have liked the Red Air for my 4 but I wanted the bigger battery. I imagine Mophie will also come out with a Plus for the 5. But what battery and what price??? I am not due for upgrade until Feb of next year and I will get a mophie for whatever device I end up with (5 or some new/bigger iphone perhaps). But $100 is already more than enough. But since the Air has been pushed up to a 1700mAh battery, that might be enough and I can get the version that is all Red. I really feel like the fact that they went with 1700mAh for the 5 Air says that a new Plus is on the way too.......
  • How do you work at iMore & not know that Apple doesn't license female lightning connectors? You'll never see a approved Apple accessory with a lightning port.
  • Hey Rene, I know you wrote that you can't use the USB port for anything more than charging. But I connect my iPhone to my audio in my car via the lightning connector to pass the audio through. Do you know for sure the USB port won't do the same? Thanks for any insight...
  • Picked up a mophie helium today from an AT&T store, feels great in the hand and works great as a protective case. I'm digging the look as well.
  • Has a drop test been performed with this case? I'm currently using an otterbox but will gladly grab the helium *if* it provides some level of protection. Anyone know?
  • How o where can I get an aditional pass-through extension cable?
  • Great piece. Mophie Juicepack is clearly the best-made smartphone battery case...but i want you and your readers to know that "USB instead of lightning prevents iTune sync" has nothing to do with it. I am on my third iPhone battery case, and have researched many more--all of which have USB instead of Lightning--and the Juicepack is the ONLY one in the industry that won't sync iTunes via USB. It's hard to fathom how every other manufacturer managed to get that right while Mophie decided to take away USB sync on its cases for the 5, but it is true. I'm using the I-Blason now, and I love the battery life and USB iTunes sync...but fit and finish don't match the Juicepack. What I want is a Juicepack that USB syncs or, better, a Lenmar Meridian with built-in control buttons instead of cheapie cutouts.
  • I just wanted to say I just purchased mophie juicepack Helium and discovered that the Roots XL Leather Side Belt Clip Holster for Samsung Galaxy S3 holds it perfectly!! like it was made for it.