Mophie Helium: Finally, A Great Charging Case For The iPhone 5 [Review]

Mophie juice pack helium 5

Amen! A charging case designed for the iPhone 5. Mophie’s new Juice Pack Helium ($79) is one of the first of its kind that work with longer iDevice, so if you find your i5’s often running in the red battery zone by noon each day, read on for the full review. This sleek and slim charging case might just be exactly what you need.

The Good

I appreciate when companies pay attention to even the smallest design details, and Mophie’s new Helium case, with its refined look and feel, definitely lives up to that standard. The Helium’s smooth grippy surface feels good in the hand, and its pieces fit together seamlessly. Even its power-level LEDs seem high-quality, glowing brightly and at just the right color to match the dark metallic coating of the case.

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Convenience is also a virtue of most Mophie cases, Helium included. Once you slide your iPhone 5 into its clutches, you’re always only one switch away from a quick power top-off. No, Helium won’t necessarily charge your iPhone 5 up all the way, but it does have enough power for about an 80% charge, which with my average usage was enough to get me through the day without outlet hunting.

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And let’s hear it for a power switch! I hate it when charging apparatuses force-charge my iPhone any time it’s connected. Call me a geek—I wear the badge proudly—but I like to fully drain the batteries before re-juicing them. Is that habit a product of 90s-era battery technology? Probably. But get off my back! It makes me happy. On the Helium, your iPhone is only charging when you decide to make it so.

Pass-thru charging is also a feature I’ve found handy. That means when you plug the case in to charge it (via micro-USB, by the way), the Helium tops-off its own battery, but also charges up your iPhone too. Mophie says charging time for Helium’s battery is about 3 hours, but I found I was only charging it up at night when I was sleeping so its recharge time didn’t bug me.

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Finally, like other Mophie cases of yore, Helium is quick and easy to install and use when you’re running around on the go. Need to power-up quick? Remove its bottom, slide in your iPhone 5, put the bottom back on, and boom—you’re ready to flex-bounce your pecks up and down in a moment of personal victory.

The Bad

Ever try to fit a surf board in your pocket? Ok, well maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but with the already-long iPhone 5 tucked inside Helium, you’ll definitely notice a little something extra in your the ol’ pantaloons. Men in fitting jeans may uncomfortably notice the extra length when sitting. I have. But if you carry a purse, or better yet, if your style allows for a murse, the extra bulk of the case won’t be an issue. The point is, the iPhone 5 is already long, and with Helium in the mix, it’s about a full inch longer than before.

Another thing I noticed is that the Helium is at least partially obscured my iPhone’s volume control buttons and switch. This made them harder to use right handed, but for us lefties who rely on our thumbs for button manipulation— fuggedaboutit.

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Those who use headphones should also note the deeply recessed headphone jack on the Helium’s big bottom. The deep hole prevents most headphones from being connected to your iPhone 5 without a jack extender. Good news is Mophie includes one, but the bad news is it’ll need to live on any set of earphones or buds you plan on using. I tried plugging in my Apple Earpods without the extender, but it didn’t work, and that left me feeling sad and inadequate.

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The Verdict

Though I’m not in love with the Mophie Helium, I’m positive I’m at least in like with it. Would I recommend it to friends and family? For sure. Though it has a weird recessed headphone port and it obstructs me slightly from the perfect button presses, those don’t overshadow the fact that it’s smartly designed, very well-built, and eminently useful. As far as power cases go, it’s one of the best options out there.

Cult of Mac rating: Good

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Erfon ElijahErfon Elijah is the producer and host of The CultCast. When not editing podcasts or watching Mrs. Doubtfire, you’ll find him on Xbox Live hunting Black Ops II foes like the Predator. Here are his tweets...

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