Goodbye, Old Friend

April 25, 2012 by  

Mophie Juice Pack

A couple of days ago, I noticed my Mophie (no, I’m not trying to talk dirty!) had failed. To answer the eternal question, what’s a Mophie, here’s my story.

In the beginning, there was the Apple iPhone, and it was good. It was so good that users just couldn’t put them down, causing battery life to become a real problem. For many email addicts, such as myself, the internal battery on my iPhone 4 was registering as low as 30% remaining capacity before 3PM. My kid brother, another unrepentant Mac fanboy, bought a really interesting device, a Mophie, for his iPhone 3GS a few years ago. I remembered that when I bought my own iPhone, and sought one out.

Not cheap at $79.95, the Mophie is a combination protective case and accessory battery pack. Just slip your iPhone into the lower half, so that the bottom connector seats into the mating receptacle on the phone, and then slip the top piece in place. It has a mini-USB connector to plug in to your charger. The other end, a standard USB connector, can also plug into your Mac, PC, or whatever you use to synchronize your iPhone. Small openings around the edges give you access to the sound muting switch, volume buttons, reset button, earphone jack, and the rear (main) camera. There’s a small switch on the side that lets you run your phone’s batteries until they are used up, then you can activate the switch to recharge the internal battery—or you can just do as I do and continually charge the iPhone’s internal battery. The case also keeps your fingers off the sides (thus avoiding the much-publicized antenna problems), and with the rubberized internal slides and tactile-friendly back, unless you drop your iPhone face-down onto a spike coming out of the floor, it should survive without a scratch.

I had my original Mophie for over two years. I charged the combo every night without regard for the suggestion that I run the batteries down every so often. It didn’t seem to matter. Mophie suggests that their battery should go for 500 or so cycles. Mine must have gone for another hundred or more, and in the end, it just failed to accept a charge, or did it? On the bottom of the Mophie are four indicator lights and a button. Normally, you briefly push the button to see what shape your Mophie is in…basically zero through four bars. When I plugged my old Mophie into the charger, all four lights lit (they progressively go from the zero or more LEDs to full charge—4 LEDs, and remain lit while charging). So, maybe there’s still some life left in the old girl. The phone’s battery indicator showed that the internal battery was running down, but all four LEDs lit on the Mophie. Hmmmmm. It’s either a defect in the charging circuitry, the indicator circuitry, or maybe something as simple as the connector that mates with the iPhone has gone the way of so many others. Stay tuned.

In the end, however, I needed a new Mophie, as I really didn’t have time to mess with it, and because I haven’t handled a soldering iron in anger in about 25 years, it’s best that I just dispose of it, unceremoniously or not. So, on the way home from work, I made a stop at my friendly neighborhood Target store (that’s Targét to you) and sauntered down to the electronics department, located all the way back in the back of the store. After catching my breath, I wandered up and down the aisles of phone accessories and proved again my keen powers of observation. I had to ask for help from one of the youngsters working in that department. When I asked for a Mophie, they looked at me like I need my head examined (I do). Then I showed them the magic of Mophie, and they were enthralled. They were acting like it was the best thing since sliced bread (or Facebook—they weren’t very clear). One of the sales guys said there was a device from Energizer on sale and walked me back to the same racks I just searched through. While they were looking for the Energizer case, we both stumbled across iPhone case/charger Nirvana: the Mophie Air Phone for iPhone 4 and 4s models. Same price—no discounts. I happily whipped out my magic plastic card and left the store a much happier man than I was when I walked in there. It was a long shot after all. Hooda thunk that Target would stock such a specialty item. Guess they sell better than I thought they did. I also left the store musing how I, a fiftysomething gray-haired fat boy, was still able to impress a couple of techno-nerds with another piece of interesting tech.

It was a good day, indeed.