Mophie's original clip on battery product, the Mophie Juice Pack, really didn't capture the sleek lines of the iPhone 3G. In fact, it looked like it really didn't belong. It did work great as a supplement to the dismal battery life and was a better solution than a dangling battery tethered by a USB cord, but people don't tend to attach ugly things to their iPhones. Sure enough, the Mophie squad went back to work and created a new Juice Pack known as the Air to hopefully win over some of those iPhone design snobs.
Some Assembly Required
In many ways, the new Juice Pack Air is an improvement over the original Juice Pack. Firstly, you can buy the new Juice Pack Air for $20 less than the original at $79.95 US. It's also slimmer than the original and completely surrounds your iPhone 3G or 3GS with its two piece design, offering some protection.
The original Juice Pack would just sit off the back somewhat awkwardly and made your iPhone look kind of goofy. While installation is easy, removing the Juice Pack Air is a terrifying experience as the act of gripping and twisting your iPhone 3G or 3GS to get it off is a heart thumping experience. It does come off eventually and as the plastics loosen up, it does get easier. The top piece does tend to be fragile which is why Mophie sells extras for $7.95 US a piece.
In order to get slim, there is a trade off. You'll get a 1200 mAh battery vs the 1800 mAh battery inside the original Juice Pack. We'll touch on the battery life impact in a sec.
Fit and Finish
The black and neon green motif of the original wasn't very attractive and the matte texture, though useful in the sense that it was slightly grippy, didn't really go with the shiny black (or white) of the iPhone 3G. Mophie now offers the Juice Pack air in glossy iPhone white (as shown), black and "Barney" purple. The glossy plastic is actually somewhat grippier than a naked iPhone 3G or 3GS.
The fit and finish I found really wasn't all that great. It's hard to see, but the two pieces don't really line up and I found that the plastic generally not very evenly molded. Hopefully they fix this in production as it really cheapens the product. Who wants a distorted piece of plastic adorning their picture perfect iPhone 3G or 3GS? Thankfully, no buttons or cameras were impeded in anyway.
Topping Up the Juice Pack Air
Both the old Juice Pack and new air can be topped up using an included mini USB cable. Well, one of them can. The new Air now uses a Micro-USB cable which fewer people have kicking around. The new Air also incorporates an on off switch that allows you to manually switch to Juice Pack Air power when the built in battery kicks out. This actually conserves a bit of power since charging the iPhone at the same time uses more power. The battery indicator you four LEDs to gauge how much juice is left in your Juice Pack Air by the push of a button.
How Much More Juice?
Your mileage may vary of course in your day to day use but it's nice that the new Juice Pack Air can be there on demand with a flip of the switch.
MEGATechie Good or MEGATechie Awful?
The Mophie Juice Pack Air is a little of both. The fit and finish I thought was on the awful side. Slightly bumpy plastics and pieces that don't quite line up definitely don't hit the quality button for me. Also, I don't like feeling like I'm going to break something when disengaging the product from my iPhone. This needs to be fixed or improved somehow. Figure it out.
On the good side though, the Mophie Juice Pack Air is a better Juice Pack than the original. For starters, it looks more like it belongs on the iPhone 3G or 3GS with the new wrap around design which doubles as protection. Even though the battery is slimmer and smaller than the original, it still manages to give you potentially an extra 30 hrs or so of standby (in my test anyway). It's also $20 bucks cheaper than the original at $79.95 US.