Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: Mophie Juice Pack for iPhone 3GS

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The iPhone 3GS is awesome except for one thing: its battery life, or lack thereof.

My battery experience had been awful. Recently, I was on a flight from Chicago O’Hare to San Diego with my new 32GB iPhone 3GS in airplane mode. When I boarded the flight, my battery charge was 85 percent. During the flight, I shot two videos about two minutes long each. I composed 17 emails, some attaching the videos. I also listed to music and watched a movie I purchased from iTunes. By the time I landed, the battery went from 85 to 27 percent.

Jason O'Grady previously posted some suggestions for extending an iPhone’s battery life, including…

1. Minimize use of location services
2. Turn off push notifications
3. Fetch new data less frequently
4. Turn off push mail
5. Auto-check fewer email accounts
6. Minimize use of third-party applications
7. Turn off Wi-Fi
8. Turn off Bluetooth
9. Use Airplane Mode in low- or no-coverage areas
10. Adjust brightness
11. Turn off EQ
12. Turn off 3G

So, in order to keep our iPhones running longer we should revert to iPhone 1.0? It sounds like Apple wants me to use my iPhone 3GS as an iPod touch. Gee, thanks Steve. I upgraded from the original 8GB iPhone 2G to the new 32GB iPhone 3GS because I wanted a better phone. I don’t like to scale down or compromise on my toys so I began researching external battery packs.

Before I settled on the Mophie Juice Pack, I bought the KONNET PowerKZ from Amazon. It is designed to fully wrap around the iPhone. It adds a bit of bulk, but I liked the idea of a full enclosure. Sadly, this unit was terrible… pieces were falling apart (like the actuator to the iPhone’s upper power button), and whenever I would get a text message, the iPhone would make the “chirp” sound that it makes when you plug in external power. It was like the Konnet unit was going offline momentarily when the phone was receiving data.

I returned it a few days later and purchased the Mophie Juice Pack 3G from Amazon instead.

While the Mophie Juice Pack 3G doesn’t fully wrap around the phone, it is superbly constructed, and works perfectly. If is also fully iPhone qualified by Apple. I’m not sure if the Konnet PowerKZ was or not. If your iPhone is not fully charged, when you plug in the Mophie, it will recharge your phone to fully capacity, assuming the Mophie is fully charged itself. Best thing though, if your iPhone is already charged, it will draw power from the Mophie first before using the internal battery. I tested it out.

I woke up at 7 a.m. yesterday and put the fully charged iPhone in the fully charged Mophie Juice Pack 3G. During the day, I made heavy use of Twitter, Facebook, recorded some video, took pictures, plenty of emailing and Safari use. I played Flight Control, Monopoly and watched some movie trailers. I did not plug the phone into the car charger at all during the day. When I got home around 8 p.m. I heard the “chirp” once as the iPhone changed power source to the internal battery. 13 hours had gone by with heavy use and my internal battery only now began to drain.

Mophie also makes a slimmer model, called the Juice Pack Air, which fully wraps around the phone. I chose the Juice Pack model merely because I wanted the most battery life. The Juice Pack 3G has an 1800 mAh battery, vs. 1200 mAh in the Juice Pack Air.

The only thing I wish the Mophie had were a combination LED flash / flashlight… and with the flash that actually worked on demand when you use the iPhone’s camera, either from still photos or for video capture.

Well done, Mophie.

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