Most helpful positive review
254 of 294 people found the following review helpful
Good case with design limitations
on March 8, 2013
I received this case a few days ago, just in time for a business trip that would have me out and about for a 15+ hour day. I travel like this quite frequently, and typically these day trips come without access to a power source. Of course, during these trips I'll typically also need to use my iPhone for calls, emails, GPS, and the occasional camera snapshot or music at the airport. The iPhone 5's battery is pretty good and can usually get me through a whole day of heavy travel use, but on a few recent trips (I do this about twice per month) I felt like I was cutting it close when at the end of the day I noticed that I had less than 15% battery remaining.
In general I prefer to use my iPhone "naked," without a case. In my opinion the phone was designed to have a particular form factor, feel in the hand, and slimness that a case destroys. Also I generally prefer to carry my iPhone in my pants pocket, which is one of the reasons why I prefer the iPhone 5 over other less slender phones. I'm a male and my typical "work uniform" is typically pants and a dress shirt without a jacket (most of the places I go are warm), so I don't really have a place to hide a large or heavy communication device on my person.
The Helium case promises to be the thinnest battery case ever made by Mophie, which is a good brand known for quality stuff that I have used and liked in the past. It's thinner than Mophie's other offerings, but I wouldn't call this a "thin" case by any means. In the case the iPhone 5 feels noticeably thicker and heavier, but it's not that bad. The phone still fits in my pocket in the case, and even though I wouldn't use this case as my daily driver (just for long days or trips), it is an acceptable trade-off for much improved battery life. The case is, for example, noticeably thinner and lighter than the "Air" option that Mophie offers for the iPhone 5, that product offers even more increased talk time etc. but at the expense of more heft and around 25% higher price. The Helium option is, in my opinion, a good value and a good compromise.
As a protective case the virtues of this product are less clear. It's very easy to put on (or take off) the phone, sliding together easily. It does protect the back, sides, top, and bottom of the phone. It does not interfere with the operation of the camera or its flash like some poorly designed cases do. It leaves the side buttons free, which I actually prefer because it preserves their tactile feel. It does not in my experience affect the call quality of the phone in any way. I found cellular reception on Verizon to be identical with or without the case on, and I found that the case's microphone pass-through did not affect callers' ability to hear my voice clearly as we would expect from a high-end smartphone like the iPhone 5. The case also appears designed to permit the iPhone's multiple noise-canceling microphones to work as designed. In the hand, the case is very ergonomic and easy to grip. It feels great to hold; in some circumstances such as while playing games I actually found it to be preferable because of the slightly wider landscape grip area and improved ability to hear the phone's speaker. Mophie claims that the case actually improves speakerphone audio quality and it seems that they might be correct. However, I am not sold on the protective aspects of this case as they relate to drops. Although the case does do an adequate job of covering the back and sides from scratches, the case does not appear to extend over the screen at all. Other cases I have owned like the OtterBox cases will at least have a "lip" on the front that enables you to put the phone face down without having it rest on the screen; this case does not seem to have a similar feature. Also I am concerned that the added weight of this case might actually exacerbate damage in the event of a fall. Also, one of my colleagues owns this same case and has noticed that the material has begun peeling in a few of the corners because, in his words, he is "too rough with it" when putting it in and out of his pant pockets. I have not experienced this cosmetic issue yet, but it's something to think about if you're not careful with your devices.
The battery in the case is excellent. On yesterday's business trip, despite much more use of the phone than usual (or frankly necessary -- I was intentionally hard on it), I was unable to drain the battery even halfway after many hours of sustained intentionally heavy use, including a marathon gaming session of Infinity Blade II on the plane. I recommend using Mophie's included tips for getting the most out of your battery case (keep the case in "standby" until your iPhone's internal battery reaches 20%, then switch it on until you charge up to 80%, then go back to standby and repeat). The case did get a little warm while it was charging my iPhone but that did not bother me. I appreciated the security of knowing that I could use the phone almost twice as much as I normally could.
The bottom of the case has a micro-USB port for charging and includes an appropriate cable. While the case is on, it is not possible to use the iPhone's integrated Lightning port. My car has an iPhone dock with a Lightning port, and this is not able to be used with my phone while the case is on. I find this pretty disappointing. Then again, during long road trips the car's audio port would be charging the iPhone anyway and so there would be no need for the Mophie case. I still think this is a disadvantage because it is somewhat of an inconvenience to be forced to continually remove and put on the case. Some folks have complained about the recessed audio port and the occasional need for the included adapter but I did not find this to be a problem. I mean, if you do have a pair of headphones that doesn't fit, the adapter is included right in this product's box.
The quality of the product and its packaging seem to be first rate. This is a licensed "Made for iPhone" product and it shows, through and through. The unboxing experience is hassle-free and easy. Dare I say it even smells like an Apple product when you open it. The attention to detail is good. The product feels like a high quality item and you can tell that it is designed to safely and correctly work with the iPhone. Despite its limitations, I recommend it.