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Thursday, January 09, 2014, 09:45 pm PT (12:45 am ET)

Hands-on: Mophie's Space Pack brings extra power, storage to iPhone 5/5s

Mophie, best known for its battery-packing iPhone cases, outed an entirely new class of product at CES that not only charges phones on-the-go, but adds up to 32GB of extra data storage accessible by iPhone or computer.

Space Pack


Dubbed the Space Pack, Mophie's newest case boasts a form factor very similar to its Juice Pack Air. The differences are superficial: a shiny metal power level indicator button replaces the colored plastic version from the Air, while a silkscreened number located inside the case denotes storage capacity.

On the inside, however, Mophie packs in either 16GB or 32GB of flash memory as well as a 1,700mAh battery pack. The case connects to Apple's iPhone 5 or 5s via a removable bottom portion that also serves as the attach point for micro USB data transfer and charging.

"Many people know Mophie as a mobile battery company, but our primary goal is built on the idea of allowing our customers to do more with their mobile devices; to make accessories that are more than just functional and fashionable, but are truly smart accessories," said Mophie's senior director of product development Charlie Quong. "Users that buy a Mophie product can really do more with their phone or tablet. The battery is at the heart of that. Any user that owns a mobile device can't do any thing with it without power."

When connected to a computer, Space Pack is recognized as a mass storage device, much like a digital camera. For iPhone use, Mophie has created an app with hooks in Photos, Mail and other iOS 7 apps.

In the Space Pack app, navigating through files looks the same as flipping through a finder browser. Files are pooled and sorted by type using metadata and can be accessed via the app's gallery, videos, music and documents viewers.

Gallery also supports import/export to the iOS 7 camera roll and there is a sync option to backup an entire library to the Space Pack. The app includes its own camera function for quick snaps, but the UI is not yet finalized.

Mophie


Video loading is extremely fast and we saw no stuttering or jittering when playing back footage directly from the Space Pack. The app supports the same video codecs as iOS 7, and while unrecognized file types can be saved on the device, they can only be viewed after offloading to a computer.

A music player is also included in-app.

As for file transfer, the app supports AirDrop, AirPlay and text or email attachments. Alternatively, users can simply share files by putting the case on a friend's phone. A security option is in the works to require a passcode both in the app and when accessing Space Pack from a computer.

Finally, the app features battery status gauge and a usage pie chart split into various file types like videos, music and email, all of which can be used with iOS 7's "Open With" function.

Mophie


"Apps of today are powerful and intensive in terms of the amount of content and data they use or process, and in many cases these apps are vehicles for collecting more data," Quong said. "So no matter what storage size a user starts with, they're going to find themselves in a situation where they can use more. Space Pack solves two of the major pain points that users run into in their daily lives: it gives you more battery power and more storage for the smartphone."

Mophie's Space Pack is slated to launch on Mar. 14 at a price of $149 for the 16GB version and $179 for the 32GB model.