The Mophie Juice Pack Helium for the iPhone 5 has finally arrived, offering better iPhone 5 battery life without changing any settings, as long as you can handle adding some bulk to the iPhone 5′s trim design.
Mophie is the first Apple certified iPhone 5 battery case and like the Mophie cases before it, the Mophie Juice Pack Helium is a good buy for iPhone users who need longer battery life.
In our tests, the iPhone 5 Mophie Juice Pack Helium was able to deliver a 60-65% charge to the iPhone in under an hour, and the battery case can charge to full in about the same time.
The Mophie Juice Pack Helium nearly doubles the thickness of the iPhone 5, up to 0.59-inches thick and it makes the iPhone 5 slightly taller thanks to the need to integrate a Lightning connection into the bottom of the case. Overall the Mophie Juice Pack Helium is noticeably larger than a naked iPhone 5, but not large enough to be a problem.
One issue is that the new thicker bottom makes it tough to connect headphones to the iPhone 5. The opening is wide enough to accommodate the Apple EarPods and several other third-party headphones, but plugging them in was tough given the depth. Thankfully Mophie includes a headphone adapter that sticks out a few inches making it easy to plug-in other headphones, though it could prove easy to lose.
The iPhone 5 battery case features a soft finish that is a little on the slippery side. It’s not so slippery that users will be dropping the iPhone 5, but it is harder to hold while reading a for extended periods than many other cases. The case features a large opening for the camera and adequate openings for the volume and power buttons.
Like earlier Mophie cases, the iPhone 5 battery case includes forward facing speaker ports to direct music and sound at the user instead of to the side, which makes it easier to hear dialogue.
We tested the Mophie Juice Pack Helium iPhone 5 battery case through several charging cycles and found that it can reliably charger the iPhone 5 up to 60-65% in an hour. This is short of Mophie’s claim of 80% more battery life, but still respectable. With this case most iPhone 5 users can get through even a heavy day of mobile use.
Users can charge the iPhone 5 battery case and the iPhone 5 at the same time, and the case charges in about an hour. The case charges with a Micro USB cable which makes it easier to find a charge while on the go. Unfortunately users cannot sync the iPhone or connect it to most car systems like SYNC with the Mophie Juice Pack Helium on. The bottom of the case is easy to slide off, but we wish users didn’t have to give up this functionality.
The Mophie Juice Pack Helium for the iPhone 5 is the best iPhone 5 battery case available, but it’s the first certified iPhone 5 battery case, so there isn’t much competition yet. We expect more iPhone 5 battery cases to arrive by the end of March, possibly including competitors like the Third Rail system, which allows users to slide the battery off the case when they are done. There are also many iPhone 5 battery case alternatives that allow users to charge up without adding bulk to the phone.
The Mophie Juice Pack Air retails for $79.95 on Mophie and ships by the end of February in Dark Metallic and in March for Silver.