iPhone Battery Life: My Current Thinking - Shelly Palmer

By Thought Leaders Archives

Someone asks me about iPhone battery life every single day. And while I don't usually write about gadgets and gizmos, I will offer a short chronicle of my external battery life experience.

Before we get into what I recommend, here's how you should determine if you need an external battery:

First, turn on everything you want: Location services, push email and notifications, etc. and get your iPhone operating in a way that makes you happy. Most "battery life saving tips" columns start by telling you to turn everything off and dim the screen – why? If you're going to cripple your phone, there's no point in purchasing it. So, turn on everything that you want to use.

Now, see how long your battery lasts. Can you get through a day? How about if you need to spend an hour on the phone? Can you play a game for an hour? Listen to two hours of music? Get a real sense of how long the battery is going to last using the phone the way you want to use it.

In my world, it's about four hours – a far cry from the kind of battery life I need to get through a day. Your results will be different.

Once you know how long a fully charged iPhone battery will last (using the phone the way you want to use it) you can decide if you need an external battery pack.

For me, it was an easy decision. For my iPhone 3GS to my AT&T iPhone 4 to my current Verizon iPhone 4, I have used Mophie Juice Packs. The current model is the Mophie Juice Pack Plus. It's about $99 on Amazon. For a while I thought that the Mophie products were the best, and I have been touting them as an excellent solution for iPhone battery life extension. However, this last crop of Mophie Juice Packs has been very disappointing. The USB connector was not up to par, and the unit's multi-pin iPhone connector was poorly made and poorly fitted as well.

With its 2000 mAh power rating, the Mophie Juice Pack Plus claims to double your battery life. That may be true in a lab, but in practice I have not been able to verify that claim. My experience with my last three Mophie Juice Packs has included sporadic charging and generally suboptimal performance. Why did I keep buying them? I thought it was the only reputable solution. Quite obviously, I was wrong.

Just two weeks ago my Mophie Juice Pack started acting up and I went looking for another solution. As you can imagine there are a frighteningly large number of cheap, no-name external battery solutions for iPhones. Buyer beware.

However, I did find one that was so much less expensive, it was worth a try. So, for $29 on amazon.com, I purchased the uNu Power DX-1700B. Catchy name, don't you think? As the name implies, it's a 1700 mAh external battery and it even comes with a screen protector.

I've had my new uNu Power DX1700B for almost two weeks now and it is awesome. It has actually doubled my iPhone 4 battery life, it looks good and – to my utter amazement; it seems better built than the Mophie Juice Pack that it replaced.

If you need an external battery for your iPhone 4 or new iPhone 4S, I can heartily recommend the uNu Power DX 1700B. For less than 1/3 the price of the similarly-featured Mophie product, you can literally buy three of them and still be ahead of the game.

As for Mophie? I hope they get their quality control together – and, I hope that they up the game, or lower the price.

So, though you've never heard of them, and they may not even be a real company, my new favorite external battery solution for iPhones comes from uNu. Like I said, for $29, it only has to work 1/3 as well the Mophie Juice Pack – the fact that it works better is a huge plus!

Note to Tim Cook – my iPhone 5 better have a removable battery!

Shelly Palmer is the host of NBC Universal‘s Live Digital with Shelly Palmer, a weekly half-hour television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5 New York‘s On-air Tech Expert (WNYW-TV) and the host of Fox Television’s monthly show Shelly Palmer Digital Living.  He also hosts United Stations Radio Network‘s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group, LLC an industry-leading advisory and business development firm and the President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy® Awards). Palmer is the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV 2nd Edition (York House Press, 2008) the seminal book about the technological, economic, and sociological forces that are changing everything and the upcoming, Overcoming The Digital Divide: How to use Social Media and Digital Tools to Reinvent Yourself and Your Career (York House Press, 2011) For more information, visit shellypalmer.com

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