Hands on: Mophie Juice Pack Air vs. the new Juice Pack Helium for iPhone 5

When the iPhone 5(s AAPL) first came out, I had to choose between continuing to use my iPhone 4S with a Mophie Juice Pack Air, or get the new iPhone 5 without an integrated battery pack case. Thinking that I would not have to wait very long for Mophie to come out with a new case designed for the iPhone 5, I decided to go with the iPhone 5. Four months of following the drama surrounding Apple’s new Lightning adapter ensued and last week Mophie released a new battery pack for Apple’s latest iPhone. Now, I finally have the new Mophie Juice Pack Helium for the iPhone 5 that I plan to use day to day.

It looks great, but as I’ll explain, it may take a bit of time to get used to the new model.

Air to Helium Side by Side

With the Mophie Juice Pack Air for the iPhone 4S, my initial impressions were that it made the iPhone a little bulkier. The iPhone felt thicker. With the latest model, the Mophie Juice Pack Helium, the first impression I had was that my iPhone was longer, while I barely notice that the phone is any thicker at all. Getting my hand around the iPhone 5 was already a bit of a challenge because of the slightly larger screen, but now with the Mophie Juice Pack Helium, I find myself scootching my hand up and down the back of the case in order to reach and touch every point on the screen. Like trying to press the home and power buttons at the same time. Until I get more comfortable and find the best way to hold the iPhone in its new case, I may be using two hands more often than I like to perform basic operations.

Air to Helium Thickness

On the Mophie Juice Pack Air for the iPhone 4S, the top of the case fit around the headphone jack in a similar fashion to other cases. Most headphones would still be able to attach to the headphone jack, but some would require an adapter to fit with the case on. In extreme situations, I could slide off the top of the case to fully expose the headphone jack. In contrast, the Juice Pack Helium on the iPhone 5 blocks access to the headphone jack quite a bit more. This is due to the fact that Apple decided with the iPhone 5 to move the headphone jack from the top of the iPhone to the bottom. Thankfully Mophie included a small adapter cable with the Helium that can reach the headphone jack and attach your favorite headphones.

Helium Headphone Jack

Both versions for the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 come with a 1500 mAh battery, which Mophie claims will extend the battery life of the iPhone 5 by 80 percent. And despite some of the minor inconveniences regarding length and access to the headphone jack I will be using this as my every day case moving forward. Nothing is more annoying than running out of battery life. I really enjoyed my Mophie Juice Pack Air with my iPhone 4S and have been looking forward to getting my hands on the Helium case for my new iPhone 5.