Sep 13 2008
mophie juice pack – Power for your Pod (iPod touch and iPhone)
There’s no question that the iPhone and iPod touch deliver an
unparalleled user experience. The problem with creating an experience
you can’t get enough of is that it always ends too soon. In the case
of the iPhone, iPhone 3G and the iPod touch that experience includes
the battery-draining bliss of wifi, Edge, 3G and GPS.
From my first moments with the iPod touch, battery life was my first
complaint. And the folks at mophie have felt the paint too. While its
no secret that many USB battery packs will recharge the touch and
iPhone, mophie’s juice pack is the first one to embrace the
The concept is perfect – you want to protect the metal or plastic back
of your i-whatever and you need some more power to sustain your
browsing. mophie hits the spot with a combo half-case and
battery-booster in the juice pack.
Form Factor and Features
The juice pack delivers its power boost from a matte-black
case-battery that you slide on to your touch-phone. It sports a
four-led green battery charge indicator. It commandeers your
dock-connector and headphone jack (iPod) and adds in their place a
mini-USB connector and headphone jack (iPod).
These are both great touches – you can assess the charge of the juice
pack with the touch of a button. Even more useful, you charge the pack
with a standard USB cable (that probably came with the old Razr you no
longer use). You can now use standard USB-to-mini USB cable to sync
your iPhone/touch with your Mac.
As if it couldn’t get any better, you will find the juice pack is much
less finicky about its power source, allowing you to charge the pack
and iPhone from power sources it would normally snub its nose to. With
the juice pack strapped on, I found that I could sync without an iPod
sync cable and I could use the car charger that my touch had rejected
The pack isn’t bad looking, though it doubles the thickness of an iPod
touch. It is also a little weird-shaped at the top, where the case
stops early, leaving the top of the touch hanging out (this could be
for the sake of the wiki antenna). The feel of the juice pack is solid
and fits nicely in your hand.
And that pretty much wraps the physical features. Now, on to
performance. I think the key to predicting the performance of the
juice pack is to understand how it works with the iPhone. And I still
don’t exactly. In my experience, I found the battery life claim exceed
the promise that it would double the battery life of my touch.
The juice pack doesn’t actually act as a battery to the iPhone. It is
recognized as a power source – as if the iPod were plugged in to a Mac
or a power adapter. This is different, because your iPhone or touch
acts differently on the juice pack than it does on its own battery.
So, while the juice pack powered my touch for hours of constant use, I
would pick it up later to find it completely drained. I attribute this
to my touch not sleeping as it would on the internal battery. Even
after I’d realized this and intentionally powered off the iPod during
non-use, I am still occasionally finding the pack empty after periods
of non-use. Not sure yet if it is my reminders waking the device or
The upside of the iPhone treating the juice pack as a power source
(and not a battery) is that the juice pack will sacrifice its own
power first, and even use its juice to recharge the iPhones own
battery before giving up the ghost. So, even when I experience a freak
discharge (wow) my touch’s battery is full. In the long term, this
behavior is also saving your battery’s cycles, lengthening the life of
your internal (and non-replaceable) battery.
Complaints and Quirks
It is tough to complain about a device so fully dedicated to the
longevity of your beloved iPhone or iPod, but I did notice a few
glitches. I noticed several times (over the course of a couple week’s
use) that my iPod wouldn’t recognize the juice pack. This is quicky
resolved by removing and reinserting the touch. Also, there were a
couple episodes where headphones plugged into the juice pack received
a mono signal, and (if I was plugged in to a power source) a buzzing
sound. This was also quickly fixed by pulling the touch out and
putting it back in.
The mophie juice pack is both a unique and well thought out solution
to perhaps the most common complaint of iPhone and iPod users. It is
not without quirks (which may get ironed out in future versions) but
it also includes some very thoughtful features that give you
flexibility that will change the way you use your touch/iPhone. It
isn’t cheap, but considering the added utility, it is worth it.
The mophine juice pack is available for the iPod touch,
iPhone (first gen) and the iPhone 3G for
about $99 (at press time the touch version was reduced to $86 at
Amazon (see link above). Product information at mophie.com.