Gadget Review: Mili iPhone Battery Pack (video)
When the iPod hit the market accessories for the device were few and far between. By the time the iPhone launched there were more accessories available for the handset then we knew what to do with. Jumping on board into this already crowded and turbulent sea is Phonesuit, with their MiLi iPhone battery pack.
The MiLi fits both generations of iPhone and is available in a variety of colors. The color finish, though, is only availabe on the internal part of the MiLi, so once the iPhone is plugged in the outter shell is only visible, which can be finished in black or white. Unlike the Mophie juice pack, which is made of plastic but finished in an outer rubber casing, the MiLi’s is constructed completely of plastic with a hard, polished outer shell. Although this facilitates easy in and out of the pocket it also makes it more apt for drops or unsolicited slips from the pocket.
On the face of the phone is a battery status indicator that can be illuminated with the push of a button. I found this convenient but the button itself was a bit on the ‘hollow’ side lending itself to a disconcerting feeling.
Another notable feature of the battery pack is the USB out. This means that the MiLi can be used to charge not only the iPhone, but any device that is USB compatible, something not available on the Mophie juice packs. The USB out also functions while charging the MiLi – a nice touch. As expected, to charge the MiLi, you’ll either need to plug it into your computer’s USB or just use the iPhone’s included AC charger.
During my testing the MiLi was good for one complete charge of my Gen 1 iPhone, although I believe the company’s website lays claim to an amount great than that. Further disappointment and frustration arose when I took a ski trip to Mammoth. A few days before leaving I charged the MiLi and stored it for safe keeping. 2 days into the trip I plugged in my iPhone to charge, but only received 3/4 of a complete charge on my iPhone. Did the MiLi partially discharge over the period of a few days?
During another test with the Mili when I had almost succeeded with a complete charge, the device went a bit scitzo. During the last quarter of its available juice it went from charging, to empty, to charging more than 5 times. A quick push of the battery indicator button and the MiLi said it was empty. A few minutes later, after removing my iPhone, I pushed the battery button again and low and behold one of the 4 LED lights lit up indicating it still had usable juice.
Notabely, my EDGE iPhone did not fit snuggly into the MiLi and rattled around a bit when docked and charging. I tested out the MiLi with a friend’s 3G iPhone and discovered that the added width of the second generation handset made for a much snugger fit, leading me to believe that Phonesuit has said ‘compatible with every iPhone’ to make their product more applicable to a greater amount of people. In other words, the MiLi isn’t truly suited for the Gen 1 iPhone.
Most guys don’t wanna hear this, but size does matter. In the case of the MiLi it’s too big and adds a significant amount of bulk to the iPhone. It just about doubles the handset’s width and increase its length by almost 10% Yes, it will still fit in a pocket, but anyone not sporting an extra baggy pair of jeans and taking a long car ride will find it necessary to seek refuge in a cup holder.
So there’s no disputing the MiLi charges the iPhone. But can I wholeheartedly recommend it? Unfortunately, not. The construction of the device feels a bit like they put in a bid in China and chose the factory that offered the lowest price. Its construction is a bit on the hollow side and although I didn’t perform a drop test I can’t see it protecting the iPhone in the event of a fall. Lastly, the lack of consistency in battery performance negates its intended purpose.
- Provides complete charge to Gen 1 iPhone
- USB out lets you charge other gadgets
- Variety of interior colors
- Battery charge inconsistent
- Loose fit for Gen 1 iPhone (video)
- Slippery plastic could cause drops or unwanted pocket removal
You can buy the Mili here for $80