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Mophie Malfunction? A popular cellphone charger and protective case is dialing up a lot of complaints about power issues

We did some digging and found there is something bigger going on.

CLEVELAND — By the time I wrote this story, I was making my 5th visit to Mentor iPhone Repair, in Mentor, OH to replace a cracked screen. 

I owned several Mophies, a special case designed to protect your phone while charging it at the same time. But I had to keep buying new ones, because the “juice pack” as it’s called, would stop charging at will. So, I would have to take my phone out of the protective case to charge my phone directly to a power source. Then, I’d forget to put it back in the Mophie, and inevitably I would drop my phone as I tried to multi-task while covering the news. 

You know what happened next…another cracked screen.

And I'm not alone. While cracked screens weren’t the issue, we found reports of hundreds of similar complaints about charging problems.

In one of many YouTube videos posted, one user said, "Every time I plug it in and the power's less than 50% it does this,” (showing a flickering charge). "It would be great if I could find a solution to this problem,” the poster said.

But after some digging, we found out the problem's not unique to Mophie, it's actually the cord it uses to charge; a micro USB instead of the improved USB-C.

Matt Gollini, founder of Mentor iPhone Repair says, "The problem with that (the cord), is it's a one way cord, meaning it has to go in the right way in order for it to work properly. People insert the charge cord into that charge port incorrectly. It loosens up over time."

And there are a number of electronics that use that same older cord and have the same problems, including Fit Bits, Kindles and Beats headphones.

An Amazon Fire Tablet owner posted a YouTube video saying, “Micro USB has its fair share of problems when it comes to reliability,”.

And in another YouTube video, a Beats headphones customer said, "When you and try to turn them on, pull them off the charger, they’re dead.”

With the newer USB-C cords, you can plug them in up or down, reducing the risk of damaging the port. So why are companies still using the old one?

“It's cheaper,” Gollini said. “They've been using that charge port and cord for so long, it's mass produced.”

Gollini says he believes most devices will eventually go to the USB-C cord, but until then, you'll have to keep changing out the old cords if the port is not damaged. Or if it is, hope Mophie replaces it.

"You have to replace the device at some point because the charge port can't be replaced," said Gollini.

Mophie tells me that only about 1% of customers contacted them about charging issues, and some problems come from people using third party cords, or the port itself getting dirty with pet hair or pocket lint.

They do have a two-year warranty, and good news is, that cases for the iPhone 10 work with the improved USB-C cable.

Full statement from Mophie:

Mophie has sold hundreds of thousands of juice pack cellphone battery cases over the years. With that volume, some customers will experience warranty issues. I did note that one customer complaint revolved around the phone charging, but not the juice pack battery case. This is by design…we call it “pass through” charging, meaning the device will ALWAYS charge first, and then the juice pack. We prioritize power delivery to the device first as that’s most important.

To reiterate from yesterday, the number of people who have contacted us with this issue is extremely low, about one percent. For those individuals, we provide a 2-year limited warranty on all juice pack battery cases. Specific information about our warranty program may be found here: http://www.mophie.com/warranty.

But here are the general warranty terms:

ZAGG Brands warranties cover ZAGG, InvisibleShield, IFROGZ, mophie, Gear4, and BRAVEN-branded products. You must register your product at ZAGG.com, mophie.com, or Gear4.com for warranty claims. If you purchased your product at ZAGG.com, mophie.com, or Gear4.com, the product is automatically registered. All ZAGG warranties are non-transferrable and are only available to the original end-user of the product. Warranties do not apply to products purchased from online vendors unauthorized to sell ZAGG product, including eBay.com.

Our Customer Care team will always do its best to accommodate customers who contact us. If, after troubleshooting any problem, we are unable to resolve their issue over the phone, and the customer is within their warranty period, we will always offer warranty and send a replacement juice pack, even if the customer doesn’t have product to return to validate warranty. Of course, we ask for proof of purchase. But beyond that, we will still make exceptions to help our customers.

If the customer is out of warranty, we consider a number of factors, most importantly how far beyond the warranty period they are. If the customer is very upset, we will still typically work with them within boundaries. Again, we stand behind our products 100 percent, so we always work with our customers within reason.