Review: Mophie Juice Pack 3G for iPhone - Macenstein

Review: Mophie Juice Pack 3G for iPhone

Now that Apple has launched the iTunes app store, there are 1000’s of battery-draining reasons why you would seek out a dockable battery pack for your iPhone 3G. Mophie ‘s Juice Pack was the most publicized, if not the first, iPhone battery pack for the first generation iPhone, and, after a few false starts, they have finally begun shipping an iPhone 3G-compatible model.

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G

So, was it worth the wait? Let’s find out together.

Ok, I’ll save you a long read – the answer is “yes”.


Not all that much has changed between the previous version and the 3G model (at least from an end-user point of view). Everything that we loved (and did not love) about the 2G model is here in the 3G model, with two notable exceptions.

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G
Above: Size comparison between the 2G (left) and the 3G Juice pack (right).

Design-wise, Mophie kept the black and lime green of the original, and as you can see from the photos, only minor design changes were made. The 3G iPhone sits a little lower in the Juice Pack than the 2G does, but there are still slits at the bottom which allow for mic and speakerphone use. The sides of the Juice Pack are roughly 50% exposed, allowing you access to the volume and mute keys, and the entire top 1/4 of the iPhone sort of sticks out, more or less unprotected.

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G
Above: Another comparison between the 2G (left) and the 3G Juice pack (right). As you can see, the 3G has dropped support for the dock connector.

One notable difference between the new Juice Pack and the previous model is you can now dock your iPhone while in the Juice Pack and have it show up in iTunes for syncing. This is great for people who wish to leave their iPhone in the Juice Pack 24/7, but it comes at a price (see “Issues” below). Performance-wise, the Juice pack delivers as advertised, giving you about an extra charge and a third worth of juice. The smart charge circuitry means the iPhone will first deplete the Juice Pack before draining its built-in battery, and similarly, when charging, the Juice Pack will first charge your iPhone’s built-in battery before filling itself.

The 3G model will not charge the 2G iPhone, as it will not fit. I did have success, however, with charging the 2nd gen iPod touch using the Juice Pack (although it is not a snug fit and takes a little finesse to line up the connectors. But in a pinch it can work for both the touch and the iPhone).

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G
Above: Mophie includes a mini USB cable for charging.


All in all, the Juice Pack is a solidly built and stylish accessory that almost any iPhone user would want. There are, however, two issues worth mentioning with the Juice Pack. The first, price, is shared by its predecessor. At $100, it is the most expensive iPhone battery pack we’ve played with (there are a slew of $50-range packs now on the market). I admit I find Mophie’s to be the most easy to use, stylish, and easiest to slide in and out of my pocket, so I could be persuaded to go either way on whether it is worth costing nearly double what the competition does (it should be noted Mophie’s Juice Pack is also the only battery pack out there for the iPhone that has been blessed by Apple with the “Works with iPhone” certification, which may account for some of that extra cost).

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G
Above: When docked, the Juicepack does leave your iPhone slightly exposed to danger.

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G
Above: Volume buttons are accessible when docked.

The second issue has to do with the charging of the Juice Pack. For the 3G model, Mophie decided to do away with the dock connector of the 2G Juice Pack, and instead opted for a min USB port. I am not a fan of this because I used to be able to charge the Juice Pack in any of the 4 available wall chargers I had around my house from previous iPods and iPhones (not to mention my car chargers). Now, with the mini USB cable, I can only charge the Juice Pack with a computer (actually, you CAN plug the mini USB into one of Apple’s wall chargers, but the point is, I now have to keep track of that mini USB cable as I don’t have nearly the stash of those I do of iPod cables). I’m not sure whether this choice was made to make syncing with iTunes easier or not, but I wish they could have kept the Dock connector.

[UPDATE: Mophie claims Apple has decided not to let any third party make an accessory using the female 30 pin connector, therefore they had no choice but to use a mini-USB connector.]

One additional small issue I noticed is occasionally while charging, the charge indicator lights on the back were not always accurate. For example, the Juice Pack would only flash two of its four lights, even after a few hours of charging. However, when unplugged, would indicate a it had a full charge (all four lights) when you press the charge status button. Plug the pack back in to charge, and now it shows three lights. In general I got to know it takes about 2-3 hour to fully charge, and just worked around that.

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G
Above: Press the charge indicator button to check your charge.

One final thing to keep in mind is the Juice Pack is really a battery pack, and not a case, and a good portion of your iPhone remains exposed to danger while docked. The no-slip material helps minimize drops, but the danger is there and there are no cases I am aware of that will protect your iPhone while in the Juice Pack.

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 3G


Despite there being some much lower-priced competition out there in the iPhone battery pack game, Mophie’s Juice Pack still reigns supreme (but just barely). At $100, the Juice Pack is a tough choice for many folks who spent only twice that on the iPhone itself, but given how addicted many of us have become to the various games and applications on the iPhone, an external battery pack has become a necessity, and the Juice Pack is still the coolest of them all.

Mophie Juice Pack for iPhone 3G
Price: $99.95

Pros: More than doubles the battery life of your iPhone, smart charge circuitry, slim design keeps bulk to a minimum, comfortable in the hand

Cons: New mini USB port instead of Dock connector, Still adds a bit of size and weight to the iPhone, cannot be used with any other iPhone accessories or cases.

16 Responses to “Review: Mophie Juice Pack 3G for iPhone”
  1. Steve says:

    There is a alternative and it comes out on Black Friday.
    It is a full case by Incase. Same 125% extra charge. the only question I have is can the Icase be charged by plugging into Apple’s wall charger ? If so, I will return the unopened Morphie I ordered and get the Icase because of the full protection to the iPhone.

  2. Steve says:

    Oh yea, if you still want the Morphie, its on sale for 25% off thru Friday.
    The Incase is now available at the Apple stores & online

  3. dizzy says:

    I’m about 80% of the way through writing my review of this and have to agree with you that it works well. It’s not for everyone, but fits my needs of having something that still looks nice on the phone and is usable as a phone/device while plugged into the battery pack. The only thing I would have hoped for was it being a touch thinner, but hey, it’s still the best bet for me.

    Doc, I think you should do a head to head review of the 3g juice pack vs the Brando’s iPower Power Station (

  4. Don says:

    The new Incase Power Slider (I believe it’s called) also does away with the dock connector. Could have been an ideal case with a dock connector so you didn’t have to remove the bottom of the case to dock it with various devices. Don’t understand this failure to provide ease of use and functionality. I don’t feel either are worth the extra cost for a portable charge versus the cheaper ones you can carry around separately because of this lack of the connector. I’ll wait to see if Incase gets smart and puts in a dock connector in the next generation. That would get my money.

  5. makemineamac says:

    I happened to be home when the Post Office dropped off my Mophie Juicepack my girlfriend got me for Christmas. She let me have it now, and I agree with everything said in this review, and also think Mophie or someone else should come out with a ‘cap’ of some sort to encase the rest of the phone.

    I did see the Incase one too, and it looks far more integrated than the Mophie does, but I think it has a little less power than the JuicePack.

    I’m happy with this one for now, it sure is nice not having to worry about power anymore, and I only use it when I need it, keeping my iPhone protected in a Griffin case.

    Gret review.

  6. Steve says:

    Hi, can anyone please answer this:

    Can the Morphie and/or the Icase be charged from the Apple plug-in the wall adaptor or does it always have to be charged from a USB port in a computer?

  7. Hey steve,
    I haven’t heard officially back from Mophie on this, but I used the Apple wall charger to charge the Mophie seemingly with no problems. (just unplug the Apple dock cable, and plug in the Mophie’s mini USB).

    -The Doc

  8. Steve says:

    Hey Doc I decided to venture the crowds (sent the wife 🙂 today on Black Friday and bought the Incase at the apple store on sale for $81. To quote one of son’s favorite show, LOVEEEEEE IT

  9. Steve says:

    And yes it charges nicely from the Apple wall charger.
    Thanks Doc for answering and for a great site!

  10. Imagine Engine says:

    It’s on my Christmas Wish List. I’m hoping in the near future they’ll release one with a LED Flash for the camera to help in low light conditions.

  11. elkfeva says:

    i got the mophie G3 right as it shipped…. 3 things i dont like.. .make that 4

    battery life is extended by about 6 hours.. .not 10

    have to use knife or something to pry the phone out of it when taking phone out of juicepack

    use wall charger only charges the pack not the phone.. .when plugged into pc both charge

    rubber grip inserts on sides are falling out…. glue is failing?


  12. Steve says:

    Glad I returned the morphie and went with the Icase.
    It a least doubles the charge.
    The only problem if you can call it that, is until the case has some charge, the phone won’t start charging. The phone charges off the case not the ‘juice’ from whatever your plugged into.
    Other than that which is nadas, once you realize that is why one does not see the lighting bolt in the charge icon on the phone, its a great thingy.
    Sync worked flawlessly.

  13. dizzy says:

    “battery life is extended by about 6 hours.. .not 10”
    This depends on what type of usage, in my test it more than doubled the life based on my average daily usage.
    From the mophie site: talk time up to 6 hours on 3G (12 hours on 2G), Internet use up to 6 hours on 3G (7 hours on Wi-Fi)…so 6 sounds about right.

    “have to use knife or something to pry the phone out of it when taking phone out of juicepack”
    This isn’t true, you just grip the phone on the sides. Place your index finger just below the volume controls and your thumb on the opposite side and pull. If it came out any easier I would be afraid of it falling out

    “use wall charger only charges the pack not the phone.. .when plugged into pc both charge”
    This isn’t true, just doubled checked and it charges the phone whether from wall outlet or computer

    “rubber grip inserts on sides are falling out…. glue is failing?”
    If that’s the case I would send it back and get a replacement

  14. Imagine Engine says:

    Well I got the Juice Pack for Christmas 🙂 It will definitely help to extend my iPhone 3G usefulness with my very busy and somewhat long work schedule. My hope is the developer will come out with an updated one which includes a flash for low light conditions to use with either the default iPhone camera app or a third party app such as Snapture. It’s unfortunate the iPhone 3G can’t fit in my Marware CEO leather case when in combination with the Juice Pack but hopefully Mophie will come out with their own case to help solve this issue.

  15. Geoff says:

    I picked up a Juicepack 3G today and am happy with it. Combined with an InvisibleShield it gives enough protection (and I travel a fair amount).

    There are some things that people hold against the Juicepack that I sorta like:

    1) Slits at the bottom … I saw a site griping about this. Seriously? How else are the microphone and speaker going to work? In fact in some ways the Mophie makes my iPhone -louder- on the speaker because my fat thumb no longer blocks it when holding it 🙂

    2) Bulk … for me at 6′ with a wide frame (partially a euphemism) the iPhone was toooo dinky. The Mophie makes it just the right size and weight for me to feel comfortable with it while still fitting fine in my pants pocket (probably not so much with my jeans but my khakis are fine).

    The one thing I really don’t like is the lack of ability for using it with docks. I was really looking forward to buying a nice alarm dock for my bedroom. Oh well. Yes, I use my phones for alarm clocks.

    The adapter also makes it so that my Alpine car stereo won’t recognize the iPhone (my head unit has both a USB connector and iPod connector … the USB connector will work with an iPod via a USB cable … I had hoped it would therefor work with the Mophie with a direct USB cable … but it won’t). So the iPhone comes out of the Mophie on long trips.

    But otherwise? Its just fine.

  16. David Utts says:

    The new Morphie Juice Pack for the Iphone 3G/3GS is awesome and yes there are cases that can fit the morphie and Iphone! Think of a bigger phone – like a Palm 755P. You can get a flip case with a belt clip that holds the Iphone in it’s Morphie Juice pack nicely… now this is not the orgiinal morphie but the new juice pack. You can have your cake and eat it too!

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