Mophie provided an iPhone 7 Juice Pack Air with Charge Force and an iPhone 7 Plus Juice Pack Air with Charge Force, for review purposes.
Mophie knows what it is doing with battery cases, and courageous decisions by Apple aside, there’s hardly a foot put wrong with this combination of backup battery and wireless charging case. Not only does it provide a full wireless system in the retail packaging, it gives you enough power to get through a working day with ease even if you can’t magically charge up.
My iPhone always needs more power. My iPhone always needs charging. I need a quick and convenient solution to both issues. Mophie’s Charge Force range of battery cases offer more power when I’m out and about, and convenient charging when back at base.
Let’s face it, the battery life on your iPhone is not great at the best of times. If you are super careful with what you do, you can get through a working day without a top-up charge – but who genuinely uses a smartphone in that way? They’re designed to be used all the time, with notifications, media players, push notifications, social media interaction, and the occasional leisurely game all placing huge demands on the battery.
When I know I’m going to be away from the office I’ll slip a case on my iPhone that has a built-in battery for recharging. While I have one that has a ridiculously sized battery for international travel, most days I prefer a slimmer case. These generally can top up around sixty and one hundred percent of my battery, and that’s enough to get me comfortably through the day without worrying about how I use my phone.
As for the current issues with the iPhone battery that many are reporting, if your handset does shut down with the ‘thirty percent’ bug you’re going to need a kick from an external power source. Having any battery case attached to my iPhone means that I’m good for a quick reset and restart of my iPhone. This isn’t a unique property to the Charge Force case, but it is another tick in the features column.
What is relatively unique to the Charge Force case is how you charge it. Although it does have a microUSB port at the bottom of the case – allowing you to use a regular USB cable to charge up both the battery pack and the iPhone while it remains in situ – the Charge Force case also has a wireless power receiver embedded in its back. Compatible with the Qi standard, you can drop the case onto an Qi-enabled charging pad, and the case will draw in power. Your iPhone will be charged first, and then the reserve battery in the case (the same principle as happens when you use a USB cable).
I’ve said it before here on Forbes, and I’ll happily say it again. Once you’ve used wireless charging on your smartphone you’ll look for it at every opportunity. I’m happy to put my smartphone down in the same place on my desk, by my bed, or in the kitchen. I suspect most people are the same and have a ‘sacred’ spot for their phone. All you need to do is make sure this spot has a wireless charging pad – your phone will always be charing when it is placed there; when you pick it up you can be confident that it has the maximum charge possible and you don’t need to faff around unplugging any cables. It’s as close to magic as you can get when charging your phone, and given the choice I’ll take wireless charging over fast charging.
There are a lot of wireless charging cases out there, but very few also have the utility of a reserve battery. Following the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S’s charge force case, Mophie has upped the storage from 1560 mAh for the iPhone 6 family to 2525 mAh for the iPhone 7 case (the iPhone 7 Plus variant has to struggle by with 2420 mAh). That means this Mophie case is much larger than the iPhone 6 variant. That makes this case far more universal and suitable for longer periods between charging, but I miss the svelte nature of the smaller case for the iPhone 6 – I feel that has a better compromise between battery, bulk, and Qi functionality – but if you are only going to pick up one battery case, then the 2525 mAh does have more flexibility.
The other gotcha is tough to lay at Mophie’s feet, but sometimes that’s life. Previous Mophie cases have left a cutout for the 3.5mm headphone jack and bundled an extension dongle in the package, allowing you to plug in regular headphones. With no 3.5mm jack on the iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, there’s no need for this dongle… but because Mophie uses a USB socket on the case (and the iPhone plugs into an embedded lightning connector) there’s no way at all to use Apple’s lightning to 3.5mm headphone dongle for your wired headphones.
Being forced toward a bluetooth only headphone solution may or may not be a deal-breaker – your mileage may vary, but be aware this case is going to push you further down Apple’s route to a wire-free world – I guess with wireless charging you can’t complain too loudly if your audio is wireless as well!