Mophie Spacestation hands-on: External storage and portable power at a high price

Mophie is known for making popular iPhone battery cases. The new Spacestation offers iOS users power on the go with additional storage capability while Android owners just get limited file access.

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Mophie is known for extended battery cases, but it also makes other battery products that don't add a bulky case to your iPhone. I've spent the last couple of weeks with the new Mophia Spacestation and Space app that provides power and external storage.

As you know, Apple's iPhones only have integrated storage so when you purchase one you need to estimate how much memory you will need and purchase a device accordingly. Apple and now Samsung both charge a ludicrous premium for additional memory configurations when you compare expanding your Android or Windows Phone memory using microSD expansion cards.

While integrated case power packs are handy, I personally can't stand the additional bulk. The size added to my Apple iPhone 6 Plus with the Mophie Juice Pack was ridiculous so I never purchased one for my iPhone 6 Plus. I prefer to carry an extra dedicated power pack in my gear bag. Many now come with 6,000 to 10,000 mAh of power in a reasonable size.

Mophie took the best of extra battery capacity and storage capacity with the Mophie Spacestation. I've been using the 32GB model, but you can also purchase more storage capacity models in 64GB and 128GB configurations.

Hardware

The Mophie Spacestation feels like a slightly thicker deck of cards. Actual measurements are 109.5 x 57.4 x 15.5 mm and 161.6 grams. It has a metal top and bottom with four soft touch sides.

The Mophie Spacestation contains 32GB of storage, which is advertised at providing more than 16,000 photos, 14 hours of video, or virtually any document. The 6,000 mAh integrated battery is capable of providing a full extra charge for an iPad mini and two to three times the charge for an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

MicroUSB and full size USB ports are found on the top. A USB to microUSB cable is included in the package. The microUSB port is used for charging up the Spacestation while the full size USB port is used to plug in your selected cable for charging up your device. You also use the full size USB port to connect for external storage use.

There is a status indicator/activation button on the upper right side with four white LEDs above the button. After plugging in your cable and device, press the button to turn on the Spacestation.

If you connect the Spacestation to your PC and then your phone to the Spacestation, your phone will charge up first and then the Spacestation will be charged.

iOS Mophie Space application

Without any software loaded on your iOS or Android device, you can only use the Spacestation to charge up your device.

In order to use the Spacestation for external storage, you need to install the Mophie Space application (available for free) onto your device. With the Space application, you can then setup the connection to your Mophie Spacestation.

After setting up your Spacestation, you can choose to connect to your Spacestation via cable or WiFi. The WiFi option provides you with an IP address that you enter onto your computer connected to the same WiFi network. This is a very handy way to copy or move files to and from your computer to the Spacestation.

There is a setting in the iOS app for Bluetooth Low Energy being used to facilitate the connection to your Spacestation. However, I could not find what this meant in any documentation so maybe it's a future function that is not yet supported.

The launch screen on the Mophie Space app shows icons for photos, videos, music, documents, favorites, and spaces. Tapping one of the icons filters the content on the Spacestation and shows you that content.

Below these icons are four icons for camera, WiFi connection, charging on/off icon, and settings icon. Tapping the camera icon on an iOS device launches a basic camera capture interface so that you can capture still or video content that is saved directly to the Spacestation.

Tapping the WiFi icon sets up the WiFi connection when your device is connected to the same local WiFi network as your computer.

You can control whether or not your phone is charged up by the Spacestation by tapping the on/off toggle.

The settings button takes you to the settings page where you can view the storage usage, register the product, view the Bluetooth connection, select when sleep mode turns on, update the firmware, set the default save location, and toggle the camera sync.

With camera sync enabled on an iOS device your camera roll is synced with the Spacestation. Given that the iOS camera roll removes your photos as you take a large number of photos, I like having my camera roll synced up to be able to easily view and manage my photos from any device or computer connected to the Spacestation.

Music stored on the Spacestation plays flawlessly in a dedicated music player. I am working on copying my entire offline music collection to the Mophie Spacestation so I can then enjoy it on all of my devices without having to worry about having it on multiple cards or locations. By the way, the LEDs on the Spacestation flash in sequence when it is actively moving or syncing files.

Documents stored on the Spacestation are viewed within the Space application by default. You also have the option at the bottom of the iOS app to share the document, open in another app, print, copy, and much more. You will also find a star icon to favorite content at the bottom of the display.

The top three dot icon that you see in the Space application lets you select, sort, add files, and add devices. There are also activity center (status) and search icons in the upper right.

Cloud storage locations that are supported by the Mophie Space application include iCloud, Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. I have all available cloud locations setup on the Spacestation. Simply tap the Spaces icon and choose your connected cloud storage service to view and manage those files. Cloud services are used so that you can add files from these services to your Mophie Spacestation.

Android Mophie Space application

I also tested out the Android Space application and was admittedly very surprised that the iOS application is much better than the Android version. I tested the Mophie Space app on my Sony Xperia Z3 and was actually a bit shocked that the Mophie Spacestation did not appear as an external storage drive in File Commander.

The Mophie Space application doesn't work at all on Android devices unless you first connect the Spacestation. Functionality is severely limited so that you can only view and sort content already loaded up on the Spacestation.

There is no capability to copy, move, or otherwise manage files on your Android device to and from the Mophie Spacestation. Cloud storage services are also not accessible from within the Mophie Space Android application.

Given that my Sony Xperia Z3, and many other Android smartphones, have external storage cards I expected the Mophie Spacestation to just appear as yet another storage option in the operating system and expected that I would have even more file control than I do on an iOS device.

Experiences using the Space Station

As I mentioned earlier, I prefer to use external battery packs to charge up my devices on the go. With the Mophie Spacestation also adding in external storage capability, it could change the way I store and access various content. However, the limited functionality in the Android application really makes this a device for iOS owners only.

I've grown tired of having core documents, music, and photos all over the place and like that I can have one single repository that is well designed and capable.

I haven't found a way to secure the Mophie Spacestation so am a bit worried about loss of the accessory with photos, documents, and other information that I wouldn't want just anyone to have access to.

You can purchase the 32GB Mophie Spacestation for $149.95. The 64GB model is $199.95 and the 128GB Spacestation is priced at $299.95. Given that 10,000 mAh battery packs can be found for less than $50, you must have a real need for portable external storage in order for the Mophie Spacestation to make sense.

If you have a low amount of external storage on your iPhone or iPad, then you might want to get one of these instead of upgrading your device. I don't see any real reason to buy one if you own an Android phone though, especially if you have a device with a microSD card slot.

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