I’ve been waiting for it and finally Mophie’s first iPhone 5 battery case has arrived. It’s called the Helium Juice Pack and boasts 1,500 mAh, the same capacity as the iPhone 5′s battery. It weighs 2.44oz and measures 2.49″ wide by 5.49″ long by 0.59″ thick. So this means your iPhone 5, with the Juice Pack Helium attached, is .62″ longer, .18″ wider, and .29″ thicker.
Mophie says that the Helium is 13% thinner than any previous battery case they’ve produced and as I pointed out when the product launched a few weeks ago, lighter as well. Nevertheless, the Helium is hardly distinguishable from their other cases, at least at a glance, with the exception that it’s tailored to the physical specifications of the iPhone 5, which has a 4-inch screen.
That said, the last Mophie battery pack that I reviewed, the Juice Pack Plus Outdoor Edition, split into two pieces by removing the top portion of the case. The Juice Pack Helium also splits into two, but instead of the top, the bottom portion of the case is removable, which houses not only the 4 LED battery indicator status lights on the rear, but a micro-USB port and a heavily recessed headphone port. As a result, Mophie includes an attachment for headphone jacks with too much girth to fit through the hole. If you often listen to your iPhone with a pair of headphones, or jack into your car’s stereo system using an AUX cable, and this caveat might start to get annoying.
And worse, lose the lower portion of the Juice Pack Helium and you won’t be able to charge the battery at all. This wasn’t the case of the previous Juice Packs since the top portion just housed the pass through volume buttons and lock switch. And speaking of volume buttons, the Juice Pack Helium simply features a recessed cut out, which in turn makes changing the iPhone 5′s volume a bit more fiddley than I’m accustom too, especially after using the Juice Pack Air Outdoor Edition.
Dropping the iPhone 5 onto tile would generally result in a cracked screen. Fortunately, I had the Juice Pack Helium attached and it survived a two foot drop to the ground without more than a slight scratch to the Mophie case and no damage to the iPhone 5. However, keep in mind the Helium doesn’t protect the screen itself and offers a minimal amount of protection around the bezel of the iPhone 5. So don’t expect it to save your iPhone 5 time and time again if you have a tendency to drop it.
To maximize the Helium’s battery life, Mophie recommends that you only turn the Helium on when your iPhone’s battery life has drained below 20%. Why 20%? Charging the iPhone 5′s battery beyond 80% takes more power, as well as time. And since the Helium is only spec’d to charge the iPhone 5 by as much as 80%, it’s ideal if you flip the standby switch to ‘on’ mode when you’re below 20%. In testing I charged the iPhone 5 from 0% and was able to achieve a 70% charge. Not quite Mophie’s purported 80% recharge, but close nonetheless. Fully charging the iPhone 5 and the Juice Pack simultaneously with it in ‘on mode’, I was able to get around 48 hours of mixed use before requiring a recharge.
I haven’t had a chance to use any other iPhone 5 battery cases, but I’ve long regarded Mophie as one of the best in the business. And the Helium seems to be nothing short of exceptional. The recessed headphone jack leaves something to be desired, but the small standby switch means that you won’t inadvertently turn on the Helium in your pocket or while removing it from a bag. Much like previous cases the Juice Pack Helium contains a speaker port that redirects audio towards you, though it isn’t necessarily richer or fuller than without the case installed.
Mophie Juice Pack Helium
- Slim build
- 1,500mAh capacity means an almost 80% recharge
- Lose bottom of the Helium and you can’t charge or use the case’s battery
- Recessed headphone jack requires an attachment for select headphone cords