Review: Mophie Juice Pack Plus for iPhone 4
In October, Mophie released Juice Pack Air, a black and silver plastic battery case for the iPhone 4 -- well-executed enough in each of its specifics to merit our B+ rating and general recommendation. Last month, the company released Juice Pack Plus ($100), a retooled version with higher battery capacity, more protection, and a slightly different body design. This new version is as good for its higher price as its predecessor was for $20 less; the only choice you have to make is whether you need or want the extra features.
Whereas Juice Pack Air tried to mimic the iPhone 4’s black and silver color combination, Juice Pack Plus largely dispenses with the second color in favor of a black soft touch rubber enclosure; blue, yellow, and pink versions are also planned. This time, instead of holes for the iPhone’s top Sleep/Wake Button and side volume controls, Mophie includes silver plastic play-through versions that look and work just like’s Apple’s, while leaving similar holes for the top headphone port and microphone, plus the side ringer switch and rear camera.
The bottoms of the two Juice Packs are similar, too: both have a tiny power switch on the left side, a Micro-USB recharging port on the right, and a set of white power indicator lights on the bottom alongside silver activation buttons. iPhone 4’s Dock Connector is fully occupied by the case when in use, and twin holes on the face allow the bottom microphone and speaker to work without echoes or other problems. A USB to Micro-USB cable is included in the package; charging and synchronization are both supported.
From a performance perspective, Juice Pack Plus is superior to Air with added thickness as a tradeoff. At 0.7” thick, this version makes your iPhone 4 feel somewhat like a less scratchable first-generation iPod, dense and sturdy, while offering battery power that would put Apple’s original digital music player to shame. The 2000 mAh battery promises to “more than double” the iPhone 4’s battery life with “up to 8 additional hours of talk time on 2G,” or “44 additional hours of audio playback,” and though it didn’t quite achieve this in our testing, it came close.
An otherwise idling iPhone 4 that started at 9% battery life was completely refueled to the 100% mark literally seconds before Juice Pack Plus’s battery died, which is to say that Mophie’s cell offers 91% additional life—potentially more if the phone has its wireless antennas and everything else disabled during the charging process. This is 21% more power than we saw when testing Juice Pack Air, roughly tracking with the 25% increase in Plus’s battery size.
Juice Pack Plus’s omissions are continuations from its predecessor. There’s still no screen protection in the package, besides the iPhone 4’s slightly recessed position within the plastic shell, and unlike some rivals—including Kensington’s less expensive PowerGuard—Mophie still doesn’t include a video stand or other frills of any sort in this package. Some users might suggest that the silver edging on the Air version makes it look a little more deluxe than Plus’s single-color body, which leans towards austere, but we preferred the less adorned Plus design.
All in all, Juice Pack Plus is another legitimately good battery case from Mophie—not the least expensive way we’ve seen to double (or triple) an iPhone 4’s run time, but a very clean design that efficiently provides access to all of the buttons and indicators we’d prefer, while protecting as much of the phone as is practical. Unless competitors undercut it with future releases, it will remain one of the best overall performers in the iPhone 4 battery case category, and a relatively easy option to recommend to users who need plenty of extra power in a convenient form factor.