For the rest of 2011, I'm visiting a new country every week or two. I'm not the biggest fan of getting lost, asking for directions, or getting ripped off by taxi drivers, so keeping my iPhone's battery charged is high on my list of priorities. I came across Mophie's Juice Pack Powerstation while I was doing my pre-travel gadget shopping, and was surprised at how small, light and cheap the unit was. So how does it stack up?
We've covered Mophie's iPhone Juice Pack cases before - but I'm strongly opposed to keeping my phone in a case, no matter how useful it is. The Powerstation's approach is much more my style - I can leave it in my bag until I need it, and it will charge my iPod and iPad as well (indeed, Mophie says it'll charge just about anything that can charge over USB).
There are other USB chargers on the market, but as far as we're aware, they're all only capable of supplying 1 amp, which will only trickle charge an iPad. If the ability to charge an iPad is irrelevant to you, you'll likely want to investigate the other devices, as they're smaller and cheaper than this.
Anyone who's carried an iPhone (or any smartphone) will know all too well the difficulty of making it through the day without a flat battery, or the painful realization you forgot to charge your phone overnight. The Powerstation is the perfect antidote. Being able to use your phone to its full potential without worrying about a drained battery is incredibly liberating - in my case, the ability to use tethering for more than a couple of hours without needing to steal power off my laptop is a wonderful thing.
The 3600mAh battery will fully charge an iPhone 4 (1320mAh) twice with change, or charge an iPad 2 (6932mAh) to somewhere just over 50 percent. Fully charging the Powerstation takes just over an hour using an iPad charger (though you can expect this figure to increase if you're using an iPhone charger or a USB port in your laptop) and you can charge the Powerstation and a connected device simultaneously. You can see how much charge you have left at the press of a button, and flick a standby switch to stop the battery draining while it's not in use.
While the unit isn't ruggedized, it seems sturdy enough to go the distance - it's been rattling around in a backpack for the last couple of weeks and isn't showing any signs of wear and tear.
My only issue with the Powerstation is Mophie's decision to use a male-to-female USB cable to charge the unit. My travel kit certainly doesn't need yet another cable to keep track of, and it's not the kind of thing you can replace very easily if you lose it.
Even before I'd left home, the Mophie had saved the day three times, and after less than two weeks overseas, I've long since lost count of how many times it's done so - so it's firmly in my "don't leave home without it" list.