Since I travel about once a month on an airplane, I have purchased some Mophie battery cases over the years. Mophie's recent Juice Pack for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was just about perfect. Unfortunately, it threw out a few of those great ideas and launched a flawed case for the newest iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR.
The new Juice Pack Access case is designed to provide full access to your Lightning port with wireless charging support and that basic premise is great. However, Mophie did not incorporate some of its recent great features from a couple of other products and battery pack perfection was missed with this product.
What does it get right?
The Mophie Juice Pack Access case is designed to provide you full access to your Lightning port, which means you can still charge up your phone with your Lightning cable, connect to your car for Apple CarPlay, and use your wired headphones with the Lightning port.
It comes in four colors (black, gold, navy, and deep red) and is available for an acceptable $99.95 price. 2,000 mAh is provided in the battery pack and it feels pretty good in the hand at 92.1 grams. Corner protection is provided and ample openings for the ringer switch and rear dual camera setup is present.
Just in case you do end up buying this battery case, be aware that you have to press and hold on the rear status indicator button for three seconds to enable wireless charging and three seconds again to turn it off.
It charges your iPhone wirelessly so charging time will be longer than seen on other Mophie cases where charging was done through the Lightning plug integrated into the case. When you place the Access case with your iPhone inside on a wireless charger, your iPhone is charged first with the Access case being charged up after the iPhone reaches 100 percent.
What did Mophie miss out on?
The case is a two-piece case with an upper back piece that slide down onto the lower piece. Mophie sent out a press kit with Access cases for the iPhone XS Max, XS, and XR. The XR case was broken inside the press kit with top piece seperated into two as the inner part broke off in shipping. It can likely be glued back together with a good glue and still usable, but the design prompted me to check out the other two cases and the design is not that robust. If you put the top piece down about half way and press back then that inner piece starts to creak. Anything can break if you try, but seeing one part broken just by shipping doesn't give me a lot of confidence in the case design.
The Juice Pack for the Note 9 included an excellent design idea where the top of the case simple bends back to let you slide in your phone. This keeps the case design as a single piece that will not fall apart later. We also see this same bend back top design from Moment and Apple (discussed below) so it would have been great to see Mophie bring its Note 9 design feature to this case.
The Note 9 case also has a microfiber lining on the back of the interior. This new Access case is simple hard plastic with four small rubber nubs that provide some shock absorption, but little protection for the back of your iPhone.
I'm very pleased to see the end of microUSB on a Mophie battery case, but I was expecting to see Lightning everywhere for the iPhone, like we see on its recent Powerstation battery packs. Instead, we strangely have a USB-C port on the battery pack while full access to the Lightning port on your iPhone is provided. Plugging in your iPhone via the Lightning port does not charge up the battery pack so in the end you still need to travel with two different cables. I just don't get it. Mophie should have given you full access to the Lightning port and a Lightning port to charge up the Access case. Now that would have made perfect sense.
What's the competition look like?
Apple recently launched its Smart Battery case that is priced at $129 with a measly 1,369 mAh capacity. It does have the back that bends back to let you slide in your iPhone, is lined with microfiber material to protect your iPhone, and also has a Lightning port at the bottom to let you charge the case. Wireless charging is also supported. Since it is a product from Apple, you can actually use the Lightning port for your headphones too.
Moment also makes a battery case that has the same bendable upper back to slide your iPhone into position. It is priced at $100 and provides a 3,100 mAh capacity (iPhone X) with a Lightning port to charge up the case. Wireless charging of your iPhone is supported too. The Moment lens mounting system is supported with a cool addition of a physical camera shutter button that works with the Moment photo app. This is the one I would get for my iPhone, but we don't yet see versions for the iPhone XS, XS Max, or XR. I am sure they will be coming soon though as Moment updates all of their products to support the latest iPhone models.