We’re in the midst of the new phone season and getting close to the time when some of us need to start worrying about wish lists and stockings, so I want to check out an accessory that’s on some people’s radar: the PopGrip JumpStart, a battery bank from $35 that attaches to your phone via PopSocket’s quick-release mechanism and charges approximately 50 percent via a built-in Lightning or USB-C cable.
When I first heard about it, I hoped the JumpStart would be both a good battery bank and a good way to hold my phone. Unfortunately, I found it to be relatively mediocre on the first runway and even worse on the second, making it a bit unclear who exactly this product is for.
I’ll say a few nice things, though, before I get really into it. The JumpStart is a very nice object, made of textured plastic in the shape of a small ovular puck with the classic PopSocket cover on the back. On top of the puck is a single button, which you click to start charging, which has a light that acts as a power indicator.
When you attach it to PopMount 2 products (aka those with the interchangeable tops), it clicks into the mount with a satisfying sound. However, once you take it out, it spins freely so the puck can end up perpendicular to your phone. I could think of no use doing this; it’s way too prominent to act as a kickstand, and it doesn’t really change the experience if you’re holding your phone in landscape rather than portrait orientation. All it did was annoy me and occasionally disconnect the JumpStart from the phone.
The integrated Lightning or USB-C cable (you buy it with one or the other) is about seven inches long and feels surprisingly sturdy. I expected it to come loose and flop out of its slot, but it turned out not to be the case at all. If anything, it’s almost a little too hard to implement; I really had to dig and pull my nails into it. But while I’m glad PopSockets uses a good cable, I really wish the JumpStart just used wireless charging like other mountable battery banks from anchor, otter boxand Apple.
In theory, the built-in cable would make the JumpStart more convenient than having to carry around an external battery bank and associated cord, but I honestly found myself wishing I’d gone with the latter solution when I was just trying to use my phone. The JumpStart’s volume made it hard to get my phone in and out of my pocket (a problem that’s worse when you have the cable plugged in), and it made the phone very uncomfortable to hold, even when I was using it like a huge PopSocket.
The obvious solution is to just take the JumpStart off when I’m not using it and put up with the worse ergonomics while I’m charging. The problem with that is that it significantly reduces the convenience factor, as it means I have to carry the JumpStart with me in a pocket, purse, or purse if I want to use it when I find myself running out of juice. And if I do have to carry something external, I’d probably want to buy something that could offer a little more power.
According to PopSockets’ website, the JumpStart has a capacity of approximately 2,200 mAh. In my testing, that was enough power to get my phone from about a 15 percent charge to about 80 percent (there was one outlier where it could only boost my phone by 40 percent, but that was a worst-case scenario where I used GPS while charging in the cold). However, your mileage may vary as my iPhone Mini 12 has a tiny battery. I don’t expect you to get that many percentage points with a bigger phone.
To be clear, that’s certainly enough power to get you out of trouble if you suddenly find yourself with a dead battery. But personally, it’s just not worth the annoyance of keeping up with the JumpStart or using my phone with a bulky, spider-like thing on the back. That’s especially true because my phone supports MagSafe, which means I could use Anker’s $50 . Wireless Charging Battery Bank at more than double the capacity — there’s even a version with a built-in PopSocketalthough it costs more.
I think the combination of having too much bulk to be comfortable while not being bulky enough to actually charge your phone is a bit of a shame, as PopSockets clearly put some effort into this. Whichever version you get, you’ll charge the JumpStart over USB-C, a boon to anyone annoyed at Apple for sticking with Lightning on their phones. It also supports pass-through charging, meaning it can charge your phone while it’s plugged in – I have two special power banks from Anker and Mophie that don’t have that feature.
At the top I said I’m not quite sure who this is for. The only exception is someone who is absolutely committed to the PopSocket lifestyle who can’t live without a grip on the back of their phone and who doesn’t want to use MagSafe or has a phone without it (aka the Android phones that PopSockets uses with the USB-C version of the accessory). But I think someone else probably wants to look at other more traditional battery banks or go with the even newer magnetic technology.