As you make your plans for summer travel or perhaps even a trip to Apple’s WWDC, you may face the realization that your old iOS charging devices won’t work with the current iPhone 5 and iPad’s Lightning connector. While you can purchase adapters, that creates extra complexity and isn’t an option for charging cases.
Below are a variety of great charging accessories for your summer travel with your late-model iOS devices that I’ve tested myself for some extra power while on the road.
Battery charger cases
Mophie continues to be a leader in integrated battery pack chargers for the iPhone and the Juice Pack Plus, priced at $119.95, has a 2100 mAh battery, more than doubling the battery life of your iPhone 5 and extending your battery way beyond the Helium or Air we’ve covered before.
You can charge the Juice Pack while leaving it attached to your iPhone, but this method doesn’t allow for data transfer, meaning you need to remove the phone from the case to sync with a computer. This task is made more difficult because removing the iPhone from the Juice Pack is challenging, requiring some strenuous pulling and wiggling. Additionally the headphone jack is recessed enough that both my Square reader and my external headphones needed the dongle for usage. Although the speakers are blocked by the pack, I actually thought it sounded better than the naked iPhone.
The Juice Pack provides a significant boost in power, and for those don’t use the headphone jack or use wired syncing, it is an excellent choice.
An alternative to the Juice Pack Plus is the MyCharge Freedom 2000 ($99.99). This case doesn’t block the bottom ports of the iPhone, leaving the speakers and headphone jack easily accessible. I was even able to mount the device in some accessories — unlike the Mophie which blocked the Lightning port entirely.
When you need a charge from the Freedom 2000, you detach a small Lightning adapter from the bottom of the battery case and plug directly into the iPhone 5 thereby allowing you to independently charge the iPhone from its case. The device acts more like an attached battery pack rather than a built-in charging solution like the Mophie. It’s not as elegant, but it is practical to keep the bottom of the case free from encumbrance that may block the bottom jacks.
With a 2000mAh battery, the charging capacity is nearly identical to the Juice Pack Plus and so is the weight, but the accessibility and easy removal was a major plus in my book. A downside of the MyCharge is that it doesn’t protect the phone as much as the Mophie, and the power button on the top is very difficult to properly press.
With access to wall plugs at a premium in hotels, airports and rest stops, double-duty devices are the way to go for travel. The Scosche strikeBASE 5W and 12W has two USB ports and includes a multi-function Lightning cable that will convert to a micro-USB cable as well. At $29.95 for the complete 5W kit ($34.95 for 12W) it’s nice to charge two devices at once in a portable adapter with a flush-folding wall prong. Small and compact, it worked like a charm.
For the car, the Belkin Dual Car Charger with Lightning to USB Cable ($44.95) provides two 10W USB ports to charge two iPads at once via your car’s 12-volt outlet. This charger also includes an extra Lightning cable. Why waste those valuable power ports with just one device charging at the time?
Whether in a hotel, in your car, while camping or even flying on an airplane the Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit ($119.95) uses small solar panels to independently charge, via sunlight, four AA NiMH batteries that can then charge any USB device with a cable. The Goal Zero battery pack can also charge directly via mini-USB. The kit is smartly designed to fold the panels down to the size of an iPad mini and has a mesh pocket to hold the battery pack as well as any charging cables.
What I really like about this is besides getting a charge while on the boat, I can leave the Goal Zero hooked up to a backup or on the dashboard to get passive solar power throughout the day. With a car full of family members craving power, it’s nice to harness the power of the sun for an extra boost. I use the Goal Zero along with Radtech’s Kenburg short Lightning to USB Cable ($18.95) to minimize excess cable length and have it all fit in the mesh pocket.
Portable battery packs
MyCharge comes through again with two interesting charging packs that maximize power and flexibility. The Hub 6000 ($119.99) has retractable Lightning and micro-USB cables, an external USB port, and can charge devices connected to all three ports simultaneously via its 9000 mAh battery. The Hub 6000 also has a flush folding AC wall prong for charging itself. That’s serious power in a 9.3 ounce package.
Another useful external battery pack is The Peak 6000 ($99.99). Also by MyCharge, what I liked about this adapter was that, similar to the Hub 6000, this has an integrated micro-USB cable and an external USB port that replaces the Lightning cable with an integrated 30-pin charger for older devices. All three ports can be used simultaneously from the 6000 mAH battery.
The fun feature about this battery pack is the audible alarms as its charging and discharging so you don’t have to take your eyes of the road to know how much of a charge is left.
Any parent who has traveled with kids in the backseat knows that the empty battery icon on the iPad means “are we there yet” is not far behind and the fact that both of these products charge multiple devices at once reduces the “mine, mine, mine” arguments.