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Review – Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 4/4S

As Managing Editor for BYTE, I see a lot of products and accessories for a number of different smartphones. The Mophie Juice Pack Air does exactly what Mophie claims it will do. It provides protection for your device, and it will charge the battery while switched on. However, there are a couple things you need to know and understand about it.

JPAir
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is a decent case, that doubles your iPhone’s battery life.

The battery in the case is great. The case functions exactly as you would expect it to, and I’ve had zero problems with the battery.

  1. It nearly doubles the depth of your phone. This may or may not be an issue for you, but when the phone is in the case, its very fat.
  2. It adds about a 1/2 inch to the length of your phone. Again, this may or may not be an issue for you, but in order to accommodate the built in 30 pin connector so the case can charge your iPhone, it requires nearly a 1/2 inch of space at the bottom.
  3. The case connects and charges to your computer with a micro USB cable, not a 30 pin connector. This may be an issue for some; and there are a few reasons why.
    a) Not all of the phone’s identifying information comes through. iTunes would not display my phone number on its Summary screen when the device was in the case and connected to the PC. This makes me wonder what other device meta data is not coming through and what I’m missing.
    b) The JPAir has power indicator lights and an activator button on the bottom of the case, where the 30 pin connector would normally go. Because this space is used by the indicator lights, the standard connector is missing, which means you can’t use the device/case combo with standard iPhone accessories (like an iHome, a car kit, or any other widget, gadget or gizmo that connects to the phone via the standard 30 pin connector. If you want to use the device with those accessories, you have to take it out of the case.
  4. Photos taken with the device in the case have a flash halo effect due to the flash reflecting off the case backing.  Both the iPhone 4 and 4S has nice cameras. Its a shame that its pictures are ruined by the case.  You can somewhat prevent this by removing the top of the case, but as you’ll see below, this is problematic.
  5. The case is made of plastic, and the top is rather flimsy. I can see it breaking very easily if you take the phone in and out of the case a lot.

I recently purchased a Magellan Premium Car Kit for iPhone and iPod touch. Great device, better with the 4S than the 4 due to Siri, but that’s another review for another time.  However, it can’t be used with the JPAir. It uses the 30 pin connector, so in order to use the car kit with the phone, my iPhone 4S has to come out of the case. With the top being so thin and flimsy, I will eventually break it accidentally. Its just a matter of time.

I’ve given this case 3 out of 5 stars. The battery part of the case is great. It nearly doubles the battery life of my iPhone 4S, insuring that it lasts a complete 16-18 hour work day without any issues or concerns. As a case it provides decent protection, but the flimsy plastic construction and the lack of a 30 pin connector may be a deal breaker for some.

The case retails for $79.99, and is Amazon Prime eligible.  However, you’ll likely find it for cheaper than that. It is, by the way, worth the purchase price; and you will get your money’s worth from it.

If you’d like to see an extensive array of battery case reviews, BYTE has a great iPhone Battery Case Roundup that examines nine different cases and provides an extensive and thorough video walk through with Larry Seltzer, Fritz Nelson and David Berlind.

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