REVIEW – I’d like to introduce you to a new adage: “The best battery pack is the one you have with you.” And what better way to make sure you’re carrying an extra power supply than to build it right into your phone case? And that’s just what Mophie aims to do with their sleek new juice pack air iPhone battery case.
What is it?
Mophie’s juice pack air is a lightweight combination case and battery pack that protects your iPhone and gives it a little extra juice when you need it. It can be charged via Lightning port or any Qi wireless charger.
What’s in the box?
- juice pack
- quick start guide
- Dimensions: 6.44 x 3.12 x 0.67 in (163.58 x 79.13 x 16.97 mm)
- Weight: 0.1680 lbs (2.68 oz)
- Battery capacity: 1,650mAh
Design and features
For the purposes of this review, I will be testing out the juice pack air on my iPhone XR. Mophie makes this exact case for other modern iPhones as well, such as the XS and XS Max models. I thought it best to split the review up into two parts: a review of the case itself and the battery function. Let’s dive in.
The juice pack air weighs in at a mere 2.7 oz. For reference, the iPhone XR is 6.84 oz, so the addition of the case makes it roughly 40% heavier. That’s not terribly heavy, but it’s certainly noticeable. The case also makes it slightly taller and wider, and close to twice as thick compared to the naked iPhone.
The red model of juice pack that I was sent almost perfectly matches the shade of red that the iPhone XR sports. It has a matte finish and feels good in the hand. It also provides a solid grip that the XR lacks without a case.
The “chin” of the case adds about 1/2” of height and is primarily needed as a pass-through for the case’s Lightning port to the phone’s Lightning port. Mophie added a bit of extra functionality to this area with forward-facing speaker holes, which basically serve to redirect the sound from the speakers on the bottom of the phone. I suppose it was the only place they could have added speaker holes, but having the sound aimed at your face rather than away from it actually helps the sound quality quite a bit.
The protection value of the case itself seems decent. The front of the case fits pretty flush with the screen, except for a small lip around the top and bottom, extending a few millimeters from the screen’s level. The back of the case has a noticeable bump where the battery is located, but still has a low profile, only slightly thicker than most normal cases I’ve tried.
There is some discoloration around the ridge of this bump, even after only 25 days or so of daily use. I can’t tell if it’s grime building up on the plastic or if the color is rubbing off, slowly, but after several attempts to clean it, it seems permanent. Other colors may have better results.
In order to place the case on the phone, Mophie smartly (or by necessity to fit the Lighting port into the phone) made the case 2 pieces. It’s split around 1” from the top, and is simple to remove. It never accidentally came loose or off while removing it from a pocket — it attaches and fits in place with a satisfying click. Once in place, it’s secure. I’m happy it’s simple to remove, though, I like to clean the dust and lint that gets built up under the top lid.
Finally, aside from the black ring of plastic around the camera opening, there are no markings or design on the case itself, other than the small Mophie logo at the bottom between the front speakers. On the back is a small button and 4 LED lights that serve as a battery indicator.
That button, when pressed, displays the battery level. I’ve noticed that when trying to charge through the lightning port on the case, there is a strange loop of the case trying to decide to pass the power through to the phone or charge the case itself. When I pressed the button on the back during this loop, the phone began to charge off the Lightning cable. I’m not sure if this is the way it was supposed to work or not, but it did solve the problem of the phone screen turning on and off again, as if it was rapidly connecting and disconnecting from a power source.
Last, but far from least, the juice pack air is Qi enabled. Through some wizardry, you can keep the case on your phone and still charge both the phone and case battery. I believe it channels power through the case via the Lightning port, charging the phone first and then the case battery when the phone is at 100%.
It’s worth mentioning that headphones connected to the case via the Lightning adapter do not work. So unless you’re rocking a pair of Bluetooth headphones, you’d have to completely remove the case in order to use your wired one. Oddly enough, Mophie does make a bottomless juice pack case to allow access to this port.
And now for the real star of this battery/case combo.
The iPhone XR battery size and performance is already top-notch. I believe, as of writing this review, the XR’s 2,942mAh battery is the largest in a non-Max sized iPhone. But with the addition of the juice pack air, the battery life is boosted by an additional 1,650mAh, or 56%.
I ran multiple charging tests in various conditions, and it seemed that despite the variables of starting battery percentage and whether or not my phone was actively being used or just sitting and charging, the juice pack seemed to add 30% to my phone’s battery life percentage and take about an hour to do so.
For instance, if my phone’s battery percentage was at 40% at 3:00pm, it would be around 69-71% at 4pm, and the juice pack’s battery would be depleted. Strictly running the numbers, one could surmise that it would boost the percentage by at least 40-50%, but it’s probably less due to the fact that I had my phone on and was sometimes actively using it, so it was draining the battery as it was charging, if that makes sense.
Still, having an additional 30% of battery life on a phone with an already-amazing battery, makes for true all-day power.
What I like
- Adds extra juice without much extra bulk
- Front-facing speakers a plus
- All-around decent protection for your iPhone
What I’d change
- the price may be a bit steep
- could develop “pocket patina”
Mophie’s practiced expertise in developing smartphone battery cases truly shines in their latest iteration, the juice pack air. Providing extended battery life in a relatively lightweight and sturdy case is a compelling combination that’s hard to pass up, despite the asking price.