Everyone loves their smart phone. We have become attached to them and the need to be connected where ever we go. Arguably the most popular of the smart phones is the Apple iPhone. This device has an interesting attraction for many. It is able to keep you connected, act as a personal media player and to a lesser extent as a mobile gaming device.

But, there is a problem with it; the battery on the iPhone [regardless of generation] just does not last as long as most people would want it to. Because of this many companies have begun to manufacture external battery packs of varying shapes, sizes and efficiency. Mophie is one of these companies. Their Juice Pack line of battery packs has become very popular for their style and the extra life they give the iPhone. Today we take a look at the Juice Pack Air and Hip Holster 6000 and see if it can give us the staying power we want from our iPhone 3G S.

Package

The Box that the Mophie Juice Pack Ari arrived in likens to the boxes that other Apple and iPhone products ship in. They have opted for the all-black look with a clear color picture of the product on the front.

There is also a cover flap that you can lift if you care to take a look at the real product or read a few additional lines of product information.

 
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The back of the box has the rest of the story including some claims on the amount of battery life this should bring you.

After you get the box open and pull the "tray" out find everything that Mophie feels you need to get started. Besides the obvious Juice Pack Air you also get a quick start guide and a micro USB cable. Mophie has included a message for you on the bottom of the tray as well.

   
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The Juice Pack Air

   
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The Juice Pack Air is a sleek looking product; it uses a two part construction with the lower portion housing the battery and the connectors. The upper portion is pretty much only for looks and completes the package.

In the lower portion of the battery is an Apple 30-pin connector that allows the Juice Pack to charge your iPhone and also to allow for a pass through connection for syncing with your PC or Mac.

The bottom of the product houses a switch and a micro-USB port. The switch enables you to switch the battery portion off until needed and also prevents the battery from recharging itself from the iPhone?s battery.

The back of the Juice Park Air has a row of lights next to a small black button. Pressing the buttons give you a visual indication of the charge remaining in the Juice Pack Air. Here we also see a problem; the glossy surface picks up finger prints like crazy. It was so bad that I felt like even getting my finger close would leave marks on it.

Specifications
The Specifications for the Juice Pack Air are as follows [As taken from the Mophie website]

iPhone 3GS:
Standby Time: Up to 270 hours
Talk Time: Up to 4.5 hours on 3G | Up to 10 hours on 2G
Internet Use: Up to 4.5 hours on 3G | Up to 8 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: Up to 27 hours
Video Playback: Up to 9 hours

iPhone 3G:
Standby Time: Up to 270 hours
Talk Time: Up to 4.5 hours on 3G | Up to 9 hours on 2G
Internet Use: Up to 4.5 hours on 3G | Up to 5.4 hours on Wi-Fi
Audio Playback: Up to 20 hours
Video Playback: Up to 6 hours

Other product specifications are as follows:
Product Dimensions: 124mm x 65mm x 18mm / 4.90in x 2.59in x 0.75in; 2.66 oz
Battery Capacity: 1200 mAh
Estimated Shipping Weight: 453g / 1 lbs
Item model number: JPA-IP3G-BLK, JPA-IP3G-WHT, JPA-IP3G-PRP, JPA-IP3G-RED
Shipping: This product ships world wide
Product Category: Cell Phone External Battery
Product Compatibility: Apple iPhone 3G and Apple iPhone 3GS
Package Content Included: juice pack air?, USB-micro cable, User?s Manual

The battery life claims alone are quite impressive. However I have a feeling that in real usage they will fall short of the mark.  Of course we intend to find out how close to these we can get and if, in the end, the battery life you do get is worth it.

The Hip Holster 6000

Of course if you have this large battery pack it is not going to fit into your average holster. Thankfully Mophie has a nice holster for you. This is the Hip Holster 6000 [Very original name there].  Despite the name, the Hip Holster 6000 is a well put together product. It has a sturdy leather construction with heavyweight stitching. The front flap has a fairly strong magnet to hold it securely to the rest of the case and to prevent your phone [complete with the Juice Pack Air] from falling out.

 
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The back has a clip for your belt, while the pocket of the case is large and open enough to allow for an easy fit to even very large phone cases.

 
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Inside the HH 6000 is a small pocket that fits an ID card or similar.

The Hip Holster 6000 is an excellent companion to the Juice Pack Air or indeed any of the larger cases out there that do not offer a good option for carrying them on your belt.

Performance
Performance of a product like the Juice Park Air is difficult to gauge. On the one had you could place a consistent drain on the device and see how long it can maintain the load. However, that is not indicative of the way the device would be used in the real world.  Most of us will vary our usage patterns from minute to minute even if we are attempting to complete a particular task, or engaging in a particular event. So for us we decided to test the Juice Pack Air in real world terms. Although Mophie says that the Juice Pack Air comes ready to use, we chose to allow it to fully charge before we began our testing.

We tested our iPhone 3G S without any case or battery from a full charge to 20% battery life to get a base number for comparison. The iPhone we used is jailbroken but not unlocked. Running applications are SBSettings, Intelliscreen, White Apple HD Theme. Before each test began we used SBSettings to free up memory.

For our "naked" testing we found that our typical battery life is roughly 30 hours. Using the Juice Pack like an emergency battery we were able to extend that out to just over 55 hours. This is roughly double the life we saw without the Juice Pack Air. Interestingly, when we turned on the Juice Pack Air to recharge the iPhone it was only able to get us back to 86%. We were also surprised that the Juice Pack Air was depleted in less than two hours.

Our next test was to use the Juice Pack air "live" in conjunction with the iPhone?s – to get both the Juice Pack Air and the iPhone back to 100% charge took a five hours to complete; after they both had a full charge we began our testing.

The Mophie Juice Pack Air was depleted in 17 hours and 20 minutes while the iPhone was able to hold out for another 36 hours and five minutes. This gives a total life of 55 hours and 25 minutes. Not quite close to the 240 hours of stand-by time that Mophie claims, but still not bad at all.

Value
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is not cheap. To get this roughly doubling of battery life you are going to shell out $80.00. This is a lot of money for a battery no matter how thin you slice it. Still if you do need the extended life on your iPhone it is worth the money in the end. To add the Hip Holster 6000 you will need to add an additional $30 to the price tag. The pair is a little expensive but after using them I think that the cost, while worth it, could be lower.

Conclusion
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is an interesting product. While it does not match the claims on the box it does manage to extend the life of our iPhone 3G S considerably. This extension would have been a huge benefit in the week of CES 2010. During that time I found that my iPhone would barely hold a charge for a full day. The Juice Pack Air provides this extra life without adding too much bulk or weight. After using it for a period of about two weeks the weight was not even noticeable while the life of our iPhone 3G S was most welcome. The price is something of an issue [we feel that a price of around $50-$60 would be better], however this price is not out of the range for this type of product. We also hope that Mophie can find a fix for the finger print issue we saw with the Black Case we tested. The Hip Holster 6000 is also well made and as we have mentioned is a great companion for any oversized case.

The Mophie Juice Pack Air is a good product for those that need the extra life, and do not mind the price. For our part we know that the Juice Pack Air will be a permanent part of our travel gear [including camping]. We will just be sure to bring a cleaning cloth with it.