Apple offers the iPhone in a number of different storage capacities, ranging from 16GB to 64GB, but it doesn’t offer expansion storage options to let users add their own via micro SD or any other format. Mophie has spent years building backup battery packs for iPhone devices, and now it’s adding additional space to store your files, too, with the appropriately named Mophie Space Pack.
- 16 or 32GB storage capacity
- 1700 mAh battery for up to 2x iPhone power
- 2.57″ x 5.66″ x 0.63″
- 2.8 oz
- iPhone 5/5s compatible
- MSRP: $149.95 (16GB) or $179.95 (32GB)
- Product info page
- Spare storage and power in one
- App UI is well designed
- File types supported limited
- Occasionally glitchy software
The Mophie Space Pack has the advantage of being familiar – which is a good thing in this case. It’s essentially just a Mophie Juice Pack Air, the existing extended battery case for iPhone 5/5s that the company makes. The version I reviewed has a matte black finish, with good ‘grippability’ and a slightly smoother edge bordering the entire device, which adds a degree of impact resistance.[gallery ids="969845,969846,969847,969848"]
If you’ve used a Mophie battery case before, you’ll know that it adds a considerable amount of bulk to your phone. But if you’re spending all day at a conference with questionable access to power, you’ll know that it can be well worth the added pocket real estate. Mophie has also done a good job at refining their passthrough buttons and switches to the point where they’re almost as easy to use as the originals on the phone itself. The metal plate surrounding the micro USB connector at the bottom of the case adds durability, and the speaker redirect channels make it easier to listen to content through your iPhone’s own audio drivers.
The Space Pack offers a 1700mAh battery on board, which is enough to power your phone up to two times over, but it also adds the new trick of expanded storage. You can add either 16 or 32GB of space to your iPhone depending on which capacity you choose, and that’s bound to be a welcome trick for those with devices that don’t have all that much storage built in.
Mophie has made using the expandable storage as easy as possible in the Space Pack, which is instantly recognized as an external storage device when you plug it into your computer via micro USB cable, just like a flash drive or SD card would be. You simply drag and drop to put files on the Space Pack, and you don’t have to worry about sorting content – the companion iOS app takes care of that for you.
On the phone itself, you have to use the Mophie Space app to get at those files, but since Apple doesn’t provide user access to any kind of shared file system like you have on Android, it has to live in a dedicated app. The app is well-designed, at least, with an interface clearly made for iOS 7, and auto-sorting of your files according to media type. There’s a built-in player for content, and a share dialog that includes “Open in…” for sending to other software.
The battery part of the Mophie Space Pack behaves as you’d expect, and from Mophie that means it works well and should provide around twice the life to your device on average. For best results, I recommend turning it on via the switch on the back as soon as you put it on your iPhone, even if that gadget is fresh from the charger, as it’ll just continually top off the smartphone and seems to result in longer life overall.
The storage part of the picture performs well in general too, but with some key caveats: the app only supports files that iOS supports natively, so you can’t play anything like an .MKV. The app also experienced some glitches during my use, like an inability to open files (stuck on a spinning wheel icon) that was however fixed by quitting the app, killing it and restarting. The pack also gets quite warm when you’re using the Space app or accessing the storage, which isn’t a deal-breaker by any means but is worth noting.
The Space Pack scratches an itch that I don’t think every iPhone owner has – namely that of a lack of available storage. Generally speaking, I use 32GB capacity iOS devices and have never had a problem with running out of space. But if you store your music content locally, or watch a lot of video on the go, then this app makes a lot of sense, especially because it can grab photos and videos taken from the app itself directly, thus easing the burden on your internal Camera Roll.
I’d be tempted to recommend it to anyone considering a Juice Pack Air or Helium, since it does nothing but add to the functionality of those devices. But at $50 more just to get to the 16GB version, and $80 more for the 32GB variety, it isn’t just a minor expense. In short, if extra memory isn’t a huge priority for you, go with the basic battery case instead, but if you do need some capacity, the Space Pack should serve you well.