One of the problems with any battery operated technology is that it is completely useless when the battery runs down. This, of course, has lead to a huge industry of aftermarket battery packs and charging mechanism for every gadget we use. While I’m not a huge user of my iPhone, I have found that when I travel, I am a little more cautious about using my phone for fear that I’ll run out of juice on my phone and not be able to make an important call or will miss a message from home at the end of the day.
Last year, before WWDC, I bought a Mophie Juice Pack Plus for my iPhone 4S and used it on all my trips. I don’t travel all that often (on average about once a month), but I felt a lot better knowing that my phone would last all day. There are lots of tips for extending the battery life of a phone, but they all require futzing with settings and reducing the utility of the phone (one tip is to turn it off as the battery is getting low so that you can turn it on later to make an important call; it’s hard to receive a call or check email when it is turned off!). The Mophie case was an excellent solution and served me well until I got my iPhone 5.
I’ve travelled a few times with my iPhone 5 and haven’t had much of a problem with battery life, but have topped it off before dinner on trips as it usually got quite low. When Mophie announced their latest cases for the iPhone 5, I knew I had to get one as WWDC is coming up again and I have a few more trips as well. In addition, now that I have a Pebble, I have to leave Bluetooth on all day which drains my battery a bit without doing anything. It was a no-brainer to order the case; it just was a matter of timing. I finally bit the bullet last week and with an estimated shipping time of 7-10 days, I figured I wouldn’t receive it in time to give it a whirl on my next trip. However, Mophie’s super fast shipping got it to me in a 3 days.
I hadn’t read the details on the Mophie site close enough to catch a small gotcha with the case; it wasn’t until I heard the case as a “pick” on MacBreak Weekly that I learned of this gotcha. The pass through connector used for charging only charges and doesn’t allow for syncing. As I don’t use the case all the time and it is easy to remove, it isn’t a huge issue.
The other quirk is that the headphone connector is so far recessed and small that Mophie provides an extender cable. The Apple supplied headphones fit fine, but are a bit difficult to plug in and remove.
I gave the case a test drive on my most recent trip, but somehow, my phone didn’t drop below 15% even with talking on the phone for 1.5 hours, getting a bunch of email, receiving a few text messages and having Bluetooth on. So, while I was prepared to flip the switch on the case to recharge the battery, I didn’t have to do it. Does this change my review? Well, not really, the only part I didn’t test was “would it charge” and I have to assume it will otherwise I have a dud.
* It charges the battery.
* It provides some protection on the side.
* Adds weight and bulk to the phone.
* Pass through connector only charges and doesn’t do data.
* Pass through connector isn’t a lightning connector. (I don’t like micro USB as it is hard to insert correctly on the first try.)
If you find that your iPhone 5 drains its battery during the day, then having a battery case is extremely useful. Is it worth the $99 cost? That is really going to depend on your usage. I’m glad I bought it so that I don’t have to worry about having a charge. While I have another external battery that lets me plug in a USB cable, it just isn’t convenient. It is a lot cheaper, but when I’ve tried to use it, having it in my pocket with my phone and cable was too cumbersome to be a real solution. I won’t use it all the time, but now I have it just in case. I’m sure that on longer trips it will come in handy. This first test trip ended up being a short day with me leaving my house around 6:30 am and arriving home around 7:00 pm.