mophie space pack

For the past few weeks, I’ve been testing out Mophie’s new ‘Space Pack’ battery case with included storage that it showed off earlier this year at CES. While I’ve never used a case on my iPhone for longer than a few days, I do run out of battery more often than I’d like, and Mophie’s promise of extra storage built into the hardware sparked my interest. (Oh, and I do think the name is cool and clever…) I really wanted to try out the Space Pack just to prove what I expected: You can’t possibly add more storage to an iPhone in a way that isn’t gimmicky and a poor experience. Admittedly, my expectations were far from what Mophie has been able to accomplish; considering the limitations designed into iOS software and iPhone hardware, the Mophie Space Pack is a very interesting and useful accessory…

Having local storage built directly into the case is the real advantage of the Mophie Space Pack. Because there is no cloud service to manage your files and the storage is located right in the hardware, the Space Pack interacts with media and files exactly like music, photos, and videos synced to your device.

Content is managed through Mophie’s Space app (free on the App Store) which is surprisingly well polished. It really does feel like using a cloud storage app like Dropbox to interact with your media without the requirement for a data connection with the lag of downloading and caching content.

The Space app includes access to music, movies, photos, a camera for photos and videos, documents, and more. It’s very well crafted for iOS 7 and unique enough from the stock media apps. You can take a photo or video and save it directly to the Space Pack, and the photo and video viewer can suck in your photos from your existing Camera Roll moving the data from your iPhone to the extra storage. This allows you to clear your Camera Roll and capture more photos and videos.

The music player is also very polished. Although I have access to my iTunes library over iCloud through iTunes Match, that service relies on network connectivity and can pull aggressively from my monthly data cap. The Space Pack acts as a great alternative for music storage in an instance where data use or network connectivity is an issue.

Syncing content from your computer to the Space Pack is really simple. Like other Mophies, the Space Pack charges through USB micro, and the Space Pack appears on your computer like a flash drive allowing you to easily drag and drop media and documents. Once content is saved, it’s filed appropriately and appears in the Space app when the Space Pack is connected.

Look & Feel

If you have any experience with Mophie’s other battery pack cases, you won’t see anything new with the Space Pack. Like its companions, it looks like the cross between an iPhone 3GS and an iPhone 4 or 5 with the aluminum band look and the plastic material. Even the mute switch and volume buttons resemble that of the iPhone 5, but they’re plastic to keep cost and weight down.

The actual weight is 2.8 ounces, or 0.12 ounces heavier than the Juice Pack Air. For reference, the iPhone 5s is 3.95 ounces. The weight, for me, isn’t the noticeable difference, especially with the benefit of extra power and storage. However, the height and depth increase is a trade off as with other Mophie battery cases.

  • iPhone 5s 2.31 in x 4.87 in x 0.30 in
  • Space Pack 2.57 in x 5.66 in x 0.63 in
  • Juice Pack Air 2.58 in x 5.55 in x 0.63 in

If you’ve used a Mophie charging case before, expect about the same experience with the Space Pack. If you haven’t used one before, it feels sort of like wrapping a gaming controller around your device. It can tend to get warm when charging, but not in a negative way. You know it’s powering and that’s a positive. It being noticeably longer does affect reaching the top corners of the display when using it one-handed, but that’s a trade off for the extra power and storage. Also worth noting is the headphone extender that most headphones (Apple’s EarPods included) will require. It’s too bad this couldn’t have been designed to not need the extender, but it’s not a major issue.

Battery Life

Under the hood, the Space Pack is a 1700mAh battery pack which Mophie says offers up to 100% additional battery than an iPhone without the additional battery. This mirrors Apple’s ratings of up to 8 hours of talk time, 10 hours of video playback, and 40 hours of music playback. In practice, I typically got an additional 80% of battery out of the Space Pack when charging from a dead iPhone until the Space Pack died while actively using and multitasking on my iPhone in normal use.

Because the media and document playback functionality of the Space Pack requires power, the Space Pack will reserve a percentage of battery for the case to support playback after it decides it has ran out of juice for your iPhone. While I never hit the limit on reserve battery during media playback, I wouldn’t expect too much more use time after the Space Pack dies.

As with Mophie’s other battery packs and cases, the hardware features a four dot battery indicator to give you an idea of how much power is left (or needed until full). Additionally, the Space app will notify you just like the case indicator lights. I anticipated the software to read a numerical percentage unlike the hardware lights, but it is the same implementation as the hardware indicators. As various uses strongly impact what a percentage actually means, the use of dots even in the software is not a huge deal.

If extra battery life is all you’re looking for, Mophie’s Juice Pack Air (Amazon Prime for $84 in white, $96 in black) offers the same 1700mAh rating and performance and saves you $50 to $80 without the storage expense.

Extra Storage

The appeal of extra storage is the focus of the Space Pack, of course. A large collection of apps and games on a 16GB device can leave little room for music, photos, and videos; and when one category gets particularly large, you may have next to zero room for content in other categories.

I’ve noticed many people purchase lower capacity devices not only for the cheaper cost but in thinking iCloud will carry the load of storing most of the content. The Space Pack is the closest implementation of actually adding storage to an iOS device after locking into factory capacity. iPhone 5 and 5s ship with 16, 32, and 64GB capacities, and Mophie’s Space Pack comes with 16 or 32GB options. My iPhone 5s is a 64GB model and the Space Pack that I’ve been testing is a 32GB model, and while I’d honestly probably never need 96GB of iPhone storage, it’s really reassuring knowing I can capture more photos and videos than both batteries combined would allow.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning on sticking with your iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s for the long haul and you’re in the market for a battery pack case even if just for occasional adventures away from a charger, the Mophie Space Pack is a solid option and unique with its storage expansion options. While it’d be nice if you could just pop in an SD card or add more flash storage later, that’s just not the case with the iPhone and I don’t expect it ever to be.

But if you’ve never ran into an issue with storage and you’re just looking for a protective battery pack case, Mophie’s other offerings are more affordable (Helium, 1500mAh, $69) with the same battery capacity (Air, 1700mAh, $96) or even more battery capacity (Plus, 2100mAh, $114) and have a much wider range of color options. It’s not the best Mophie charging case when you’re focusing on battery capacity and price, but the Space Pack is unequivocally the best and most unique in its field when you consider the range of problems it solves in a single case.

While I personally still prefer to use my iPhone 5s without any case at all,  I look forward to being equipped with the Space Pack the next time I’m outdoors taking photos and video as the utility of additional storage and battery life is very reassuring.

Availability

Mophie’s Space Pack for iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s will be available in both black and white options with either 16GB and 32GB for $149.95 and $179.95, respectively. Pre-orders are available now through Mophie.com and Apple.com with shipping promised to start on Friday, March 14. Mophie’s Space Pack app is available now on the App Store (Space Pack required).

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24 Responses to “Review: Mophie’s new ‘Space Pack’ battery case is like Dropbox without the cloud and twice the power”

  1. rafterman11 says:

    It doesn’t look like it supports storage via microSD. Too bad. That new Sandisk 128GB microSD card would have been pretty sweet in there. Its also odd that they didn’t offer 32GB and 64GB as the options. 16GB seems almost pointless – sort of like the 16GB iPhone.

    • ” Mophie’s Space Pack comes with 16 or 32GB options”. It does not have a 64GB option tho.

      • rafterman11 says:

        Yes, I know. I meant that 32/64 options would have made more sense than 16/32 options.

    • I am using 16GB phone for years. Never ever had a space problem.

      • jsingr says:

        guess you don’t watch p0rn..

      • lucylonestar says:

        You must use your iPhone waaaay less than the average person. I reached my 16Gs in about a week. I didn’t even transfer half of the games and apps I had on my old 32 and none of the music specifically to have more room for photos and still ran out of room right away. Nothing like stopping everything because either you ran out of memory or the battery died… So for me this product looks great. Just because you have no need for it doesn’t mean anyone else should either. You don’t represent the average user. There is a huge demand for a product like this, it’s pre-selling and on back order, so your comments just make you look ignorant and rather judgmental.

      • Air Burt says:

        I know plenty of people that use their iPhone a ton and get by just fine on 16GB. I went from a 32GB 4S to a 16GB iPhone 5 and have never had a problem. In fact, everyone I know with an iPhone has a 16GB model (along with a few that have the 8GB 4S) and never complain about not having enough space. YOU don’t represent the average user, who can use a 16GB phone without issue. You’re just dumb if you think this product’s sales mean they are the average user.

  2. Steve Miller says:

    I need more info. Will I be able to use a USB cable from my MacBook to transfer files to and from the case? I would like to transfer some photos from my Macbook Air directly to the case storage and then use the phone as my means to email or ftp the photos. I do not have tethering so this would act like a tethered connection for sending files when no wifi was available.

    • Zac Hall says:

      “Like other Mophies, the Space Pack charges through USB micro, and the Space Pack appears on your computer like a flash drive allowing you to easily drag and drop media and documents. Once content is saved, it’s filed appropriately and appears in the Space app when the Space Pack is connected.”

      Also, what you’re describing is definitely possible. If you’ve ever used a service like Dropbox on iOS, the experience is nearly parallel, except the files are local, not in the cloud. Sharing files is totally supported.

  3. They should make a version of this where all it does is add a card reader.

  4. Wouldn’t it just be easier to buy an iPhone with more space in the first place? Yes, it’s more expensive, but it seems worth not having all that extra bulk and weight. The Mophie battery-only-cases make more sense to me…

  5. Why can’t the Mophie Space Pack play iTunes purchased movies because my SanDisk 64GB Connect Wireless Media Drive can?

    • rafterman11 says:

      Yes, I was curious too, since there are ways for third party apps to play DRM protected videos. For example, StreamtoMe uses Safari to play the DRM content.

  6. Reblogged this on HEROES NATION BLOG by Joseph Pellerito Jr. and commented:
    Important for people that use their phone as a call-for-help-system.

  7. Nobody wants his neat and nice iPhone to become an ugly bulky brick. If you do not have enough space, buy a bigger iPhone.

  8. They should make a version that doesn’t block 30% of your cell phone signal. I had to stop using it in areas with weak signal.

  9. This seems like a band-aid to a problem Apple needs to fix. My main Apple device, an iPad mini, could definitely use more memory. I should have got the 32 GB, and not the 16 GB.

    I do have an iPhone 5s, but I am needing a larger, high resolution screen, and microSD expansion. So, I am going with a Samsung Galaxy S4. Of course, I’d never get rid of my iPad mini for a Samsung tablet (that would just be silly).