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Every time my day deviates from the normal home-to-work-and-back routine, I have to plan a strategy for iPhone power. Car chargers are an option, as is keeping a spare charging cable in your go-bag. But what are you supposed to do if your day’s travels aren’t going to include time in a car or in front of a computer?
Now you can use your iPhone as an excuse to get outside for a change.
Novothink’s Surge is a hybrid charger/case that promises to keep your iPhone twittering, emailing, and calling without the need for an external power source. The Surge’s back is taken up by a solar panel that catches the sun’s energy, and stores it in an internal 1320 mAh battery. Given San Francisco’s well-deserved reputation for fogginess, I was initially skeptical that the Surge would do me any good. I was pleased to find that on a typical overcast spring day in the city, the red LED indicating that the Surge was charging stayed brightly lit--it even worked through the tinted windows of Mac|Life’s offices and on a shaded balcony that wasn’t receiving direct sunlight. And on those rare days when we do see the sun, the Surge happily sucked it up and juiced up my iPhone with no problem. Two hours of charge time gives you enough power for 30 minutes of talk time on AT&T’s 3G network.
Below the solar panel, Surge features four green LEDs to indicate the charge level of the internal battery. The system is intelligently designed so that it charges the iPhone’s internal battery before storing excess power with the Surge’s own battery, which means your phone always has the maximum power available.
The Surge’s only issue is that it needs to be left in the sun--preferably with your iPhone attached. If you have a corner office, that’s no problem, but most of the iPhones we know spend the day in dark pockets, bags, or on desks under artificial lighting. The Surge can be charged via USB in a pinch, but if you’re going to do that, why drop 80 bucks on a solar charger?
Follow this article's author, Ray Aguilera, on Twitter.
If you’re outdoors regularly or have a secure sunny spot nearby where you can leave your phone during the day, the Surge could quite easily replace the nightly ritual of plugging your iPhone in to charge--or at least let you get through the day without a power-up.
REQUIREMENTS: iPhone 3G or 3GS, USB port to charge without sun.
Charges even in indirect sunlight. LEDs indicate charge level. Available in six colors.
Kind of bulky. Obviously won't work if your iPhone spends most of its time in your pocket or bag.