PopSockets has a proposition: what if you could swap out the grip on your phone (which may or may not contain lip balm or a multitool) and stick on a battery bank with an integrated cable whenever you need to charge your phone and keep a solid grip on it? That seems to be the idea behind its new PopGrip JumpStart, a 2,200mAh battery (we’ll get to that number in a moment) that mounts onto the standard PopSocket mount and charges your phone with a pop-out USB-C or Lightning cable (via Gizmodo).
It’s a clever idea, to be sure, but I have some... concerns. Standard PopSockets are comfy to use because they seem to be just the right size and shape. As you may have already guessed, though, the JumpStart is quite a bit bigger, given that it’s an entire battery bank and cable instead of a plastic circle. To put it bluntly, it seems quite uncomfortable to hold.
Thankfully, it’s meant to be swappable — you can attach and detach it from your phone by twisting it onto a PopMount 2. If you’ve got a Grip with a swappable top that either attaches to your phone with adhesive or one of PopSockets’ sliding bands, you should be able to just twist the JumpStart on when your phone is running low on power. To charge the JumpStart’s battery itself, you use the USB-C port at the bottom (and if you plug it into your phone, it can pass through the charge, which is nice to see).
Unfortunately for fans of MagSafe (warning: link contains karate), PopSockets says that the JumpStart isn’t compatible with the MagSafe Grip Base. It’s also not compatible with Otterbox’s Symmetry or Defender cases with built-in PopSockets. Coming back to MagSafe, though, it does raise the question of why this accessory doesn’t just use Qi charging — it’d certainly be more convenient for PopSockets if it didn’t have to make USB-C and Lightning versions.
The likely culprit is distance — between the mount to the phone and the case PopSockets wants you to have this mounted to (the site says that the “Gel does not stick ‘as well’ with naked iPhones”), it seems like it’d be hard to guarantee that wireless charging would be efficient or even possible. The company put a PopSocket-sized hole in a wireless charger to let its customers get in on wireless charging, which seems impractical for a mobile accessory. Still, it’s a shame that MagSafe can support a PopSocket or a wireless charging pack, but not the two combined.
Speaking of the MagSafe charging pack, there is one important note about battery capacity when it comes to the JumpStart — as we mentioned in our review of Apple’s snap-on battery (which is similar to the JumpStart in some ways but isn’t very PopSocket-friendly), the milliamp-hour number by itself doesn’t tell the whole story. PopSockets estimates it’ll boost your phone by 50 percent, though that seems dependent on which model of phone you have.
I do, however, gotta hand it to PopSockets for making this product; I can see people devoted to living the PopSockets lifestyle getting some use out of this. I just pray that their fingers don’t cramp while they’re charging their phones.