Over the weekend, I took a trip to Chicago for Lollapalooza, a three-day music festival full of sun, fun, and some amazing artists — including my favorite performer Lady Gaga (you know she went to geek camp, right?). Music festivals are great for rocking out to your favorite musicians with your friends, but they aren't the best place in the world for tech. Since I couldn't bear the thought of going unplugged for a full weekend (how would I be able to find my friends if we got separated?) but was worried about my iPhone's battery life, I decided to pack one gadget accessory I knew would carry me through: the Mophie Juice Pack Air ($80), an external battery and hard case for the iPhone 3G and 3GS (stay tuned for an iPhone 4 model).
The days are long, and there was a lot of texting and social networking, but the Juice Pack pulled through! Read all the reasons I'd recommend this device— and one reason I wouldn't — after the break.
Mophie sent me the awesome shiny red case to test — one of my favorite colors. While it's understandably heavier than other cases (there is a battery in there, after all), it was still easy to hold, and certainly not too heavy to carry around. In fact, the case gave my phone a nice heft that made it easier to find in my crowded bag. The case charges via USB, so I plugged it into my computer each night before bed, just as I plug in my iPhone to charge. It had a full charge each morning, which was easy to tell by pressing the button on the back of the case to illuminate the indicator lights.
Once my phone was down to a 75 percent charge (here's how to view your iPhone's battery life as a percentage), I turned the Mophie on via a small switch on the bottom of the phone. It started charging instantly, and took less than an hour to reach full charge. Once I was at or close to 100 percent, I switched it off and the Juice Pack became a protective and pretty case.
The (Sort-Of) Bad
Three days of using the Mophie, and three different battery experiences. The first day, the Mophie only lasted about four hours; the second, it lasted six; the third, eight. The key to a lasting battery: switch it off if your phone is fully or mostly charged. Once I started thinking about the Mophie in the same way I think about a charger that plugs into the wall, the battery started lasting longer.
I loved everything technical about the case, but by the end of the third day, the shiny red paint had begun to flake off from the heat — both the hot weather and the heat from my hand. It didn't get especially messy, but the case is now sporting a slightly wrinkled look.
I loved the Mophie Juice Pack Air! During the review I was holding and using my phone a lot, and despite its new, "textured" appearance, I will continue to use it. I'd certainly recommend it for extending your iPhone's life. I would not recommend holding it for long periods of time, using it excessively in hot temperatures, or leaving it out in the sun. But in the end, it did everything I needed it to do, providing battery life for my phone from the first set of the day through Gaga's Bad Romance fireworks.