Review: Mipow Juice Cover for iPad 2
One of the selling points for both generations of the iPad has always been the impressive battery life: ten hours of use on a single charge. For many people, this is more than enough productive or entertainment time before a recharge. But sometimes more juice is necessary, and that's why battery accessories such as Mipow's Juice Cover for iPad 2 ($99) exist. This surprisingly thin plastic shell has a battery built in, a design that's much better than the Juice Book for iPad 2 we saw from the same company in June.
Juice Cover is available in a number of different colors, many of which are made to match the varied tones of Apple’s iPad Smart Covers. All of the Juice Covers have the same design: the glossy plastic shell slides and snaps onto the back of the iPad 2, with a Dock Connector plug that fits into the bottom. Beneath that plug, there’s an extended chin with a Micro USB port for charging the battery with the included cable, and a combination power switch/battery indicator button facing up. Lining the inside is soft felt to prevent scratching.
The iPad 2’s top edge isn’t covered very well, as it’s exposed from corner to corner. There’s a cutout for the side switch and volume rocker on the right side, and the bottom is almost completely protected. An opening on the back frames the speaker, allowing sound to pass through freely. Juice Cover is compatible with Smart Covers, as the left edge is open as well; the lid fits snugly in place, leaving very little of the aluminum back exposed. Juice Cover definitely adds some weight, but overall it’s much more compact than we would have expected from this type of case.
While the design is pretty impressive, battery performance was less than stellar. The iPad 2 has a battery capacity of 6930mAh, so Mipow’s claim that Juice Cover’s 6000mAh battery would provide a 70% charge seemed just about right on paper. In two different tests, however, we got results that did not live up to those claims; both tests involved a Wi-Fi only iPad 2 with wireless networking turned on, notifications and location services active, Bluetooth disabled, and the screen turned off. The first time through, the battery was completely drained, while the second test started with the battery at 19%. In both instances, we saw a jump of only 34% before charging ceased. It took two hours, ten minutes the first time, and two hours, four minutes the second time, which seems close enough to the company’s claim of 2.1A charging. Each time, the LEDs flashed right at the end, indicating that the charge was just about through, before they went off and the charging symbol disappeared from the screen.
We were excited at the prospect of what Juice Cover had to offer, but disappointed by the actual results. The fact the unit provides half of what the company claims makes us question whether it was really able to fit such a high capacity battery into the slim case, or whether there were simply engineering issues preventing the solution from working properly. Either way, it’s unfortunate. While we would’ve otherwise recommended Juice Cover, we simply can’t do so; the performance doesn’t justify the price. Most users will be just as well off using a standard case and living off of the already impressive battery life of their iPad 2s; with better performance, though, a similar design to this could be worth considering.