Mophie’s New Battery Case Boosts Your iPhone’s Storage, Too

Built-in flash memory gives maxed-out phones a bit more elbow room.

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At first blush, Mophie’s new battery case for the iPhone 5 and 5s looks exactly like its earlier models. But it’s just a skosh taller than the Juice Pack Air — and the company used that extra height to cram in something no battery case has had before: solid-state storage. That means that the Space Pack, announced at CES, provides two things that plenty of iPhone owners could use: longer life between charges and more space for their stuff.

Space Pack is available for pre-order now and will go on sale on March 14 in two versions: a $150 model with 16GB of storage and as $180 one with 32GB. (The storage-free Juice Pack goes for $100.) As before, the case plugs into your iPhone’s Lightning connector, then provides a MicroUSB jack on the exterior for charging the case and phone. But now you can also use MicroUSB to connect the case to a Windows PC or Mac, and then store files on it in exactly the same way you would on a thumb drive.

On the iPhone, Mophie provides an application called Space, which gives iOS 7 something it otherwise intentionally avoids: a traditional file system. (Depending on your attitude, that’s either sacrilegious or great news — or maybe both.) The app lets you see files you transferred from your computer, view photos and other files, listen to music and watch videos. You can also open files such as PowerPoints in any iOS apps you’ve got that are capable of editing them. And you can sync photos back and forth between the Space Pack and your phone’s internal memory.

In broad strokes, at least, Space works similarly to the apps that come with other iOS external-storage devices from companies such as Seagate and SanDisk. Like them, it can’t fully insinuate itself into iOS: For instance, you can’t decide to play music stored on Space Pack’s storage using Apple’s Music player, or move movies from Apple’s Video player onto the Space Pack. Still, this device looks like the simplest way yet to give a maxed-out iPhone a bit more space.

One thing I’m curious about: Will Apple, which sells Mophie cases in its stores, carry this one? Mophie says it’s hopeful that Apple will, but the company sometimes seems sensitive about offering items that might suggest Apple products aren’t perfect as is. And it would presumably also prefer that you pay more for a larger-capacity iPhone than invest in a Space Pack. Here’s hoping it sees this case as a way to make happy iPhone owners even happier, rather than a disincentive to upgrade.

Product Page [Mophie]

MORE: Check out TIME Tech’s complete CES coverage