The two issues facing almost every iPhone owner are the lack of onboard storage and limited battery life. Mophie is attempting to solve both with the Space Pack, a battery case for the iPhone 5/5s that also includes some extra memory. But at $149 for 16GB and $179 for 32GB, the premium you'll pay for this double-duty accessory isn't quite worth the cost.
The Mophie Space Pack looks pretty much like most other iPhone battery cases. Available in black or white, the back of the case has a slightly rubberized coating, and its curved edges make it easy to grip. On the back is a silver button; when pressed, four white LEDs illuminate, to indicate how much juice is left in the case. To the right is a small on/off switch. Our only quibble with the Space Pack's design is the power button on top, which can be hard to press.
At 2.6 x 5.7 x 0.63 inches and 2.9 ounces, the Space Pack is lighter than the 3.3-ounce Tylt Energi and the 3.9-ounce iBattz Mojo Hi5 Power Bank, but heavier than the 2.5-ounce Mophie Juice Pack Helium.
The Space Pack comes with a microUSB charging cable, but doesn't come with a 3.5mm extension, which you'll need if you want to plug in a pair of headphones.
Click to EnlargeUnlike most battery cases, the Mophie Space Pack comes with its own iOS app. After downloading the free app to our iPhone and sliding it into the Space Pack, we pressed the power button on the case to pair it with our phone.
The Home screen shows six icons at the top: Photos, Videos, Music, Documents, Other Files and All Files. Below these options is a list of recently viewed files, with a status bar at the bottom showing how much storage is left, and how much battery life remains in the Space Pack.
Click to EnlargePress the bar at the bottom, and a pie chart pops up, showing the type of content filling the Space Pack.
Within Photos, there are three tabs at the top: All, Photos and inexplicably, Videos. The middle of the screen is populated with thumbnails of your photos, and the bottom has three more icons: Photos, Camera Sync and Favorites.
If you don't want to bother with syncing photos, you can use the camera feature built into the Space Pack app. However, it's much more basic than the native iPhone Camera app, and lacks such features as HDR, Slo-mo, filters and panorama.
Click to EnlargeAs a repository for all our photos and videos, the Space Pack was inconsistent at best. We had to keep turning the Camera Sync feature on and off before it finally synced all the images and videos from our iPhone, of which there were about 3,000.
Often, when we selected an individual thumbnail--even those preloaded by Mophie--it wouldn't show up in full size, and all we would see was a white screen.
We also weren't sure why videos we recorded on our iPhone--even those recorded using Mophie's Space Pack app--did not show up in the Videos folder.
There are also a few limitations in terms of the size and type of content you can load on the Space Pack. For instance, you can't play movies downloaded from iTunes, and you can't transfer a file greater than 4GB to the Space Pack. There's no way to back up apps or install them to the case, either.
With the Space Pack's 1700 mAh battery, the iPhone 5S lasted 9 hours and 47 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test (Web surfing via 4G), an improvement of 4 hours and 20 minutes. By comparison, the Tylt Energi case let us go for an epic 15:12, and the Lenmar Meridian lasted 10:05.
Click to EnlargeThe Mophie Space Pack--combining extra storage and extra battery life into one package--is a clever idea. In fact, we were so enamored with the concept we gave this product a Best of CES 2014 award. Unfortunately, the execution is sorely lacking. The battery delivers below-average endurance, and the app needs work. Even after Mophie works out the kinks, you'll be limited in terms of what you can store on the Space Pack.
At $179 for the 32GB version, the Space Pack is also much more expensive than battery-only cases such as the $99 Tylt Energi, which offers twice as much endurance. We hope Mophie keeps trying, but for now we'd hold off.