Mophie’s new battery case for the iPhone 5 is the Juice Pack Air. This super new energy booster is the most powerful battery case yet for Apple’s current smartphone. At first sight it looks like just another smart case for the iPhone, but hidden at the back is a battery that can almost double your iPhone’s charge. See: iPhone battery cases compared
Now read: Best iPhone battery cases of 2014
It has also announced a new battery case, the Mophie Space Pack, that has the battery boost of the Air and offers extra storage of up to 32GB.
The company has now also released a top-of-the-range Juice Pack Plus battery case for the iPhone 5, reviewed. After testing all three Mophie battery cases we think the Air offers the best value for money, although lighter users will prefer to make the bigger saving with the Helium.
Mophie’s product naming is a little confusing, as it also sells a Juice Pack Air for iPhone 4/4S but this is not simply the same product for the newer phone. It’s actually more powerful than either the old Air or the more recent Helium. See: iPhone 5 review
While the older Air for iPhone 4/4S and the Helium are rated at 1,500mAh and around 5.5Wh, the new Juice Pack Air boasts ratings of 1,700mAH and 6.29Wh. The newer Juice Pack Plus weighs in at 2,100mAh and 7.77Wh.
Mophie claims one charge from the Juice Pack Air will give you up to an additional 10 hours of talk time, 8 extra hours internet use on 3G/4G and 11 hours using wi-fi, up to 40 additional hours audio playback and up to 10 extra hours of video playback.
In our tests we managed close to a full recharge (about 95%) when powering up a near-dead iPhone. This compares to a 60-70 percent recharge from the 1,500mAh battery cases.
There is a price to pay for this extra battery power, and I don't just mean the £30 premium for 1,700mAh. The Air case is slightly larger than the 1,500mAh Helium. The differences are fractional but given that battery cases are bulkier than standard protective phone covers every little counts.
If you’re into super-slim phones then a battery case probably isn’t for you – although it could be used for situations when you know you’ll be away from a recharging source for some time. Heavy app users shouldn’t mind the extra bulk if it keeps their iPhone running all day. You get used to the case size after a few days and then you can just look smug when your friend’s phone cuts out mid call or during a game of Angry Birds.
(Being a nice person you will, of course, offer to recharge your pal’s iPhone using your battery pack while he or she buys you a pint at the bar.)
Apart from being slightly larger than the Helium the Air is pretty much the same case as its sibling. Build quality is very high, and I've had people coo over the design before they realise it's a battery, too.
It’s a hard case that covers everything but the front and feels robust for its protective function. It splits into two pieces with the battery circuitry positioned in the smaller, lower section.
As with other iPhone 5 battery cases Apple’s placement of the iPhone 5’s headphone port next to the Lightning cable causes problems for battery case makers. The cutout for the headphone port therefore has to be quite deep, which is no good for thick or angled headphone jacks. Thin, straight ones as found on most headphones, including Apple’s, are fine, but affected users have to use the included pass-through headphone extension.
We prefer the Juice Pack Air’s use of covered button overlays to the deep cutouts for the Sleep/Wake, Ring/Silent and Volume buttons on the Helium.
You charge the Juice Pack Air using the included micro USB cable. You can sync to your computer without taking out the iPhone 5 if you do so wirelessly. Otherwise you’ll need to detach it from the case.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is available in black, white and fetching (Product) Red.
Get your Mophie for less
The entry-level Mophie Juice Pack Helium for iPhone 5 costs £69.95 RRP – although if you buy direct from Mophie you can get it cheaper if the £/$ rate is in your favour. In mid July 2014 we found the Helium could be got for just over £50 including shipping from the US. The slightly chunkier mid-range Mophie Air will set you back closer to £90 RRP (or just £65 from Mophie in July 2014) but does offer a bigger battery boost. The top-of-the-range Plus costs £109.95 (or £76 direct), but we actually prefer the Air, which offers only slightly less battery power.
Mophie also makes a Juice Pack battery case for the Samsung Galaxy S4.