Mophie Juice Pack Pro
Resistant to vibration and shock, splashing and rain, sand and dust; large battery; access to buttons
US$129 + shipping
Mophie’s US$129 Juice Pack Pro is a rugged battery case that fits the iPhone 4 and 4S. The case combines a 2500 milliamp hour battery case with a rubberised, water-tight shell. In effect, the Pro gloms the venerable, Juice Pack Plus onto a rugged case that Mophie claims is resistant to vibration and shock, splashing and rain, sand and dust, and impact and drops.
The Juice Pack Pro ships sealed up, and I’ll admit that it took a bit of elbow grease and pain to open it up the first time. Sliding your phone in and out of a Juice Pack Plus or Air is simple; taking the Pro on and off requires more effort. You need to peel the rubber off the chassis, and then snap the plastic pieces apart—it’s not exactly hard work, but it takes a minute. That’s good for protecting your phone, but it’s not so good if you do intend to remove the case frequently.
To do what it does, the Juice Pack Pro is, by necessity, big, heavy, and thick. The case almost adds a 500g to your iPhone’s weight, and it measures 13.36cm tall, 7.06cm wide, and 2.59cm thick. The Pro feels big, both in my pocket and in my hand.
The case consists of three separate parts: a 2500 milliamp hour battery, a screen protector, and a rubber outer layer. With the case fully assembled, you can still access everything (except the dock connector port, which is used by the battery), though it may take some effort: The Ring/Silent switch is blocked by a protective rubber flap, as is the headphone jack and upper microphone. Accessing that Ring/Silent switch is a bit of a challenge, because the case’s thickness, coupled with the cutout’s relatively narrow opening, necessitates some seriously precise finger gymnastics, but it’s manageable. Press-through rubber overlays cover the Sleep/Wake button, Home button, and volume buttons, and there are covered cutouts for both cameras.
Using a Juice Pack Pro-clad iPhone is mostly fine. The screen protector passes through touches easily enough, though it certainly gets dirtier faster than the glass screen would unprotected. I did find that the screen is harder to see in bright sunlight with the case on than it would be otherwise.
At the bottom of the case, two flaps sit on the left and right edges. The one on the left covers a small power button that toggles the battery on and off; the one on the right hides a Micro-USB port for charging. The Juice Pack Pro ships with a Micro-USB to USB cable for charging; you can plug it into your Mac or smartphone adapter.
Across the bottom edge of the case sit four LEDs and a button. Press the button to see the battery’s current charge level. You can charge and sync your phone while it’s in the case. In a significant improvement other Mophie’s earlier models, the lights don’t blink incessantly. They are, however, bright enough to be burdensome in a dark room if you charge your phone overnight. Now, they light up for the first few moments of charging and then shut off; you can press the button again to get the LEDs to light up again with the current charging status for a few seconds.
Mophie says that the Juice Pack Pro exceeds MIL-STD 810G, which it describes as “the standards for impact protection and dust/sand penetration set forth by the United States Military.” There’s no public means of acquiring that certification, but the company does say that the case should protect against splashing, rain, dust, and impacts.
The case ships with an optional belt clip that, unsurprisingly, makes things even bigger and bulkier, but it seemed to fit the phone (and my belt loop) snugly and securely.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice
The Juice Pack Pro is a fine case. It’s well-made and seems sturdy. I’d let my one-year-old handle my iPhone in this case, and that’s about as rough of a treatment as my iPhone is likely to encounter. That said, it’s big, bulky, and weighs over 450g. If you don’t need the crazy levels of protection, perhaps a standalone battery case—like Mophie’s own Juice Pack Plus—might make more sense. But if you need both the extra power and serious protection from the elements, I know of no superior option.