3 of 3 Part Mobile Hardware Reviews

On October 9, 2008

Disclaimer: Even though we normally do not do any sort of hardware reviews, we thought that since we have noticed a significant difference in battery life for our 3G units vs. our Gen 1 iPhones, some of you might be interested in which rechargable battery pack we thought was worth the investment.  So we are going to put up a few posts about different products we think you might be interested in…

Richard Solo Smart Backup Battery Pack – Review

My first generation iPhone had the best battery life of any smart phone I had ever used.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the iPhone 3G. I love the device, but between the 3G chip and graphics demanding applications, battery life is a huge Achilles Heel that makes carrying a backup battery a must if you tend to use your iPhone a lot during the day.

One of the best is the Richard Solo Smart Backup Battery Pack.  It is small, works well and provides plenty of extra juice.

The unit comes simply but nicely packaged.  There is a wall charger, a retracting mini-USB cable, and the battery itself.  The battery box is 1 and 3/4 inches wide, and 2 and 3/4 long with the protective cap for the Apple-approved and licensed 30-pin connector.  A 5-page document describes how the product came to be, as well as charging and use instructions and tips for extending battery life.  Richard explains:

“My kids and I love our iPods, (and I love my iPhone even more), however, I do get a bit nervous toward the end of the day if my battery starts running down. This led me to work with a leading manufacturer to design and develop a new backup battery using Apple’s special 30-pin connector.”

I followed the instructions and fully charged the battery.  The unit has three LED’s toward the top.  One indicates that it is charging, one indicates proper function, and the third notifies you when the battery is fully charged.  When the LED flashes red, it indicates that it is low and needs to be recharged from a power source.  This approach is well-thought out and simple to use.

The battery is light enough that I keep it in my briefcase at all times.  If my iPhone runs low on juice and I am not near a plug, I simply removed the protective cap covering the 30-pin connecter and inserted it into the bottom of my iPhone.  The iPhone immediately begins to charge.  The battery fits nicely into the iPhone’s port, however, it is not a terribly secure connection.  I would recommend being careful to hold both the iPhone and the battery when it is not resting on a horizontal surface.

Three aspects of it stood out in particular.

1. If the battery is plugged into the iPhone and the mini-USB is used to charge the battery, it will charge both the battery and the iPhone simultaneously.  That means that you can easily travel with your iPhone, the battery, and it’s cable and charger without the need to bring any additional phone charger.  Interestingly, it is designed to charge the iPhone first.

2. You can immediate use the iPhone once it begins to charge.

3. It works with the iPhone and all 30-pin iPods.

There are some downsides to it, however.  Because of its design there is no pass-through connector. That means while using it there is no access to the bottom connector.  This isn’t a big deal with the iPhone, but it does mean that if you are using it with an iPod Touch it will block access to the headphone jack. 

    * Small
    * Easy to use
    * Well built
    * Usable with multiple iPhone/iPods
    * Charges battery and Apple device simultaneously
    * Reasonably priced.

    * Not securely connected to iPhone/iPod when charging
    * I didn’t find this 6 months ago.

You can get the Smart Backup Battery Pack for $49.95 (discounts for purchasing more than one).  A version that includes an led flashlight is just 54.95.  Both are available at RichardSolo.com