Your iPhone has likely all but become an extension of yourself these days; if only its built-in battery could last as long as you do. For those who are out and about but don't want to be weighed down, the $79 Mophie Juice Pack Helium adds just 2.5 ounces to the weight of your iPhone, but promises as much as 6 hours more of endurance. Read on to find out whether Mophie's latest and greatest accessory gives you enough juice for your money.
The Helium comes in either dark gray or silver, and sports a rubberized finish that's impervious to fingerprints and is very comfortable to hold. The case separates into two parts, so that you can slide the iPhone 5 inside. Users will find openings for each button and switch on the phone as well as its camera and flash. Also featured are acoustic amplifiers that pass sound through the front of the battery pack.
On the bottom of the Helium is a large opening for the headphone jack (an included extender cable is required to plug in your headphones). Around back is an on/off switch, four power indicator LEDs and a tiny button that turns them on. The case charges through a microUSB port found where you would normally plug in a Lightning charge cable.
Befitting its name, the 2.5-ounce Helium is one of the lightest iPhone 5 battery cases. Most others, such as the Lenmar Meridian, weigh 3 ounces, but it also packs in a larger battery. Measuring 5.5 x 2.5 x 0.6 inches, the added length and thickness don't make navigating the iPhone's touch screen difficult, though typing in landscape orientation will take some getting used to.
Equipped with a 1500 mAh battery, Mophie says the Helium should provide another 6 hours of battery life while on LTE. For the best results, the company suggests you let the iPhone 5 itself drain to 20 percent, and then turn on the battery. Then, when the iPhone reaches 80 percent, turn the Helium off until the iPhone's battery falls back to 20 percent.
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Following Mophie's involved instructions, we were able to get a Verizon iPhone 5 to last 8 hours and 40 minutes on the LAPTOP Battery Test (continuous Web browsing over LTE). That's an increase of just 3 hours and 10 minutes, and less than all the other iPhone battery cases we've tested. This runtime is 26 minutes less than the average, and 20 minutes less than the i-Blason PowerGlider and myCharge Freedom 2000. The heavier Lenmar Meridian lasted 10:05, while the bulky iBattz Mojo Hi5 Power Bank lasted 12:54.
Mophie warns that, like with all lithium polymer batteries, this battery will recharge for more than 500 cycles. After that, the battery inside might provide less than 75 percent of its original capacity.
The $99 Mophie Juice Pack Air, which has a 1700-mAh battery, should provide an extra hour or two of endurance, but weighs a slightly heavier 2.68 ounces.
If our ratings were based solely on design, the $79 Mophie Juice Pack Helium for iPhone 5 would be the hands-down winner. It's sleek, light, comfortable to hold, and offers a helpful battery life indicator on the back. However, this accessory provides less of a charge than all the other battery cases we've tested. While $10 more expensive, the longer-lasting Lenmark Meridian is the better choice.