A case for case-haters: the Mophie Juice Pack Air iPhone 4 Case

I love my iPhone 4. Even after all this time. And I still carry it naked (the phone is naked, not me). And though the iPhone 4′s battery is much better than previous models, my real-life battery performance is the same or worse, because I use it all the time. I just can’t keep my hands off this thing.

So it occurred to me: I either need a date or maybe a battery case.

Hence this review of the Mophie Juice Pack Air.

To reiterate, I’m not a fan of cases. I got the “free” Bumper when it was offered, because… hey, free Apple stuff. but it’s still in the blister pack, unopened. one of my favorite things about the iPhone 4 is its gorgeous design, and I’d hate to cover it up. (I even dropped it once, shattering the front glass; still don’t use a case.)

As for the battery life, I’ve gotten used to plugging it in by the bed at night, in the car when I’m driving, and at my computer when staying there for long periods. but when I saw I had a film shoot coming up — 14-hour days in the woods in the middle of nowhere — I knew I’d need to supplement my battery.

I searched around online, read a few reviews, then went down to my local big box chain electronics boutique, searching for the best buy I could find (ahem). I picked up the Mophie Juice Pack Air iPhone 4 case for the MSRP, went home, and charged it up.

The case charges using a standard micro-USB cable (included). Indicator lights across the bottom of the case show how charged it is and when it’s done. When the lights stay lit, yank the USB and slide in the iPhone.

One of the best things to me is that the Mophie is designed as beautifully as the iPhone itself. It’s sleek, dark, smooth-looking — very stylish.

Functionally, the case is just as well-designed. it doesn’t add too much weight and feels good in the hand when using the phone. The surface of the case slides easily in and out of the pocket without collecting lint, nicks, dirt, etc., yet it is less slippery than the glass and metal construction of the iPhone; the case not only protects your phone, but also makes it less likely to be dropped.

The front leaves the entire face of the phone open, almost flush, making me wonder how well it would protect the front glass when dropped. (I have a sneaking suspicion if I’d had this case on the phone when I dropped it, the front glass might have still shattered, the way it landed.) The only things the case covers up are the Apple logo on the back and the 30-pin connector. The case has pass-throughs for the speakers that redirect the sound toward the face of the phone (making for perhaps a better listening experience than with just the regular phone). And should you need to sync the phone while the case is on, you can do so over the micro-USB cable — no iPod-style USB cable necessary. (Forgot your charging cable? maybe one of your Blackberry friends can help…)

On the bottom of the case, you’ll find a flush button that, when pressed, lets you know how much juice is left in your Mophie. Finally, you’ll find the green/red switch which activates the battery. I typically use the case by putting it on only when I need it — either that day or maybe even just the period of time I am actually charging with the case. I’ll wait until my iPhone gets down to about 10% or less, then I’ll flip the switch. The iPhone blinks as it does when I’ve plugged it into the wall charger and shows the battery indicator graphic.

Slowly, the iPhone recharges from the battery inside the Mophie. it usually gets back up to around 70% or more. And remember, I have full use of the phone during this time, and I am usually using it, especially on set. The iPhone plus Mophie easily gets me 18-24 hours of very active use out of my iPhone 4. That’s plenty of power for an entire workday of monitoring weather, adjusting schedules, making phone calls, checking Facebook, pre-visualizing shots, and checking Facebook.

The case is beautiful, sleek, comfortable, light, and functional. it gives you 50-100% more battery life (your mileage may vary). I highly recommend this case for even the biggest case-haters. I do everything on a very tight budget, and for me, this case is worth every bit of the $80 pricetag. The case looks and feels great, and it even sounds better than the naked phone.

While worth it, $80 is expensive for a case. it does heat up a bit, but nothing unexpected. It’s about the same as the phone heats up when talking on it for long periods. While I obviously haven’t tested it, I’m not sure how it will protect the front glass in the event of a drop. You should also know that it comes with no protection for the front glass, like an Invisi-shield type cover or anything. I would also recommend removing the case often and cleaning the dust marks on the phone left by the openings in the case. Also, the sides of the top part feel a little flimsy to me, and I’m afraid I may break them, but so far so good.

It’s hard to find something to not like about the Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone 4. I’ve already gotten my money’s worth out of it on set in the last month. I highly recommend this case. if you have any questions about it, feel free to ask in the comments or shoot me an email or DM.

Mophie: Juice Pack Air

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