Even fanboys admit that, when Steve Jobs gifted his iPhone with wonderful attributes, he skimped in the battery life department. Fortunately, what the creator omitted, a cool add-on gadget called Mophie delivers. Read on to see a short demo video of this useful "juice pack" for Apple's iPhone.The Mophie is pretty simple. It's essentially one of those form-fit squishy Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries (with some charge-control electronics) stashed inside a pleasant-looking green and black hard shell. That shell acts as a sheath which clips around your iPhone, so you can carry your keep iTunes Apping (and talking) away, even after the handset has used up its paltry 5 hours worth of internal power capability.
So the great thing here is that, once you've got a Mophie, you're no longer eyeing your iPhone's battery indicator as if it were a gas gauge in a GMC Yukon on a drive through the Mojave Desert. The juice pack adds 6 to 8 hours of Internet surfing or talk time, according to its spec. I haven't drained it fully, so I can't report of the exact upper limit. Suffice to say you can be confident of the additional 4 to 5 hours needed to bring the iPhone up to a full working day's worth of usage.
Mophie can charge up either in standalone mode, or when it's paired up with the iPhone. The standard iPhone USB cable is used for charging, and in the latter case both Mophie and handset will get charged up. There's a series of 4 blue LEDs on the Mophie's reverse, which indicate charging status and can also be used at any time -- via a push button -- to check how much relative juice is left in the pack.
There are a few negatives, though I found them to be relatively minor and I'm quite happy to live with them if and until Apple realizes that a removable iPhone battery is something users need. The first is weight -- an iPhone cradled inside a Mophie is no longer an unnoticeably lightweight gadget, but rather something you have to use a wee bit of heft to wield.
Mophie's charging action -- If your iPhone battery is drained, Mophie works by giving its juice up in service of doing a battery to battery recharge of the handset -- also generates a fair amount of heat. And every now and again you get that funky low-level charging indication the iPhone puts out when you connect it up via the AC powerblock. (I.e., I'm guessing that the iPhone periodically "sees" Mophie as initiating a charge, and gives off that little almost-buzz when that occurs.)
In practical usage, I deal with both of these by using my Mophie as follows: When my iPhone's battery is nearly drained, I extract my handset from its rubber DLO case, and cradle it inside the Mophie. Then I just let it charge the handset up for 20 minutes or so (which'll take it back to around half charge) and I'm good to go for a while longer. Note that I can indeed continue to use my iPhone while this recharging action is occurring. It's just that I like to go back to the lighter-weight profile once I've got my device rejoiced.
Anyway, so in summary, Mophie, which costs $99, is the perfect solution to iPhone battery anxiety and I wouldn't be without it. Take a look at my short video, where I provide a demo. (And, yes, I know the audio stinks. I forgot to ask the building manager to shut of the air conditioning, so I got a huge amount of blower noise on the original audio track. I managed to cut it out using Audacity's high-pass filter, but unfortunately ended up sounding like a Star Trek: The Next Generation android. (A robot android, not a Google Phone one.)
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Alex Wolfe is editor-in-chief of InformationWeek.com.