Review – iPWR Mobile Power For iPhone and iPod Touch

[This is a joint review between  Dan and Doug.  Dan’s comments are in normal font and Doug’s are in bold italics.]

I’m liking a whole lot about the iPhone 3G I picked up the other day. It feels good in my hand and, even though it is a bit thicker, the curved sides make it feel smaller and lighter. I am liking the 3g speed a lot more than I expected. While home and work have WiFi, the 3G speeds make a much bigger difference than I expected when I am out and about. I’m pleasantly surprised how common 3G is in my area and those  speeds make a far bigger difference than I expected when using my iPhone for browsing or updating RSS feeds. I am especially liking the increased cellular signal strength. On my Gen1 iPhone I was lucky to get one bar when I am home, while my iPhone 3G gets 2-3 everywhere. Because of the increased signal I can even live with the cheap, easily scratched, plastic back. (Thank goodness for Invisible Shields!)
I don’t have the iPhone, but I do have the iPod Touch.  And since many of the applications for the iTouch involve Cloud computing or utilizing data stored online, I find myself frequently connected to the Internet via Wifi.

Thanks to the new firmware, my iPhone 3G is pretty stable. I’m finding myself having very few crashes and far fewer lockups then I did when I was using my Gen1 iPhone with the 2.0 firmware. Yup, I like almost everything about my new iPhone. “Almost” but not “everything”… The battery life is horrible. I need to be able to rely on phone to work when I need it and the battery life… well the battery life scares me. It is lousy. It is weak. Horrific. A shanda. It makes me want to throw the phone out the window.

The battery on the iTouch is not nearly that bad.  Since I do not have to contend with a phone or 3G signals, I have found that I get some pretty good use from a single charge.  Still, using Wifi for everything from checking email to syncing my RSS feeds, weather, todo lists and more, can also be trouble for a battery.

For me it’s like Deja Vu all over again. I had the original Blackjack. You know, the one where you could watch as the charge disappeared before your very eyes. It was SO bad that Samsung sent me an EXTRA high capacity battery for the phone. I carried two high capacity and one standard capacity batteries everywhere I went. It wasn’t the most convenient solution but it worked.

I did the same thing with my Dell Axim.  On my Mogul, although I have a higher capacity battery, I rarely use it.  Instead, I tend to carry my PPC Tech Mobile Power Pack pretty much everywhere I go.  I love having an external battery, because it can keep my device charged, but slips conveniently out of the way when I am not using it.  This is an advantage over a high capacity battery, which just makes your device larger and heavier in your hand.

My experience thus far is that the iPhone 3G’s battery life is bad enough that I’m increasingly convinced Apple should take a cue from Samsung and do something similar. Oh, wait… that’ll NEVER happen… and then again, even if they wanted to… they can’t… since unlike the Blackjack, the iPhone doesn’t have a user replaceable battery.

Thank goodness there are an increasing number of external battery options available for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

For the past few days Doug and I have been trying out one of the newest. It’s a neat little external battery from WirelessInput. The iPWR backup battery brings 1800mAh of extra juice in a compact device that is both “Made for iPod” and “Works with iPhone” compliant.

It is small and has a clean, low profile. The silver trim that wraps around its shiny black plastic is nicely reflective of the iPhone’s styling. (Unless of course you got the white one.) With the cap on, the battery is a nice, easy to carry (and lose) package.

Pop the top off and the simplicity of the design is obvious. It has a dock connector to attach to the iPhone or iPod, a mini-use port for charging it either from a computer or a USB charger adapter and an on/off switch. That’s it.

I thought this battery was fantastic.  I took it with me when I went to the baseball game, and had no problem leaving my Wifi on the whole time we were there, which allowed me to easily check in on other games from around the league online.

My only complaint about this battery is its size.  It is about 50% the size of the iPod Touch, which makes it almost too big to be pocket sized anymore.  More importantly, it is as wide as the iPod Touch, which means it covers the headphone plug.  Personally, I like to use an external battery when I know I am going to be doing something that will drain my main battery, such as watching videos.  With this battery plugged in, however, you cannot use your headphones to actually listen to the video.   This means, you are forced to resort to using the battery as a charger only.  Charge your main battery, watch the video, and then recharge the battery for next time.  This is less than ideal.  It would be nice if the battery were just slightly narrower in order to allow access to the headphone plug.

Attached To An iPhone 3G

Attached To An iPhone 3G

With the switch set to “Off” and the device plugged into a computer or USB charger (the USB cable is provided, the wall charger is not) charging can take anywhere form 4-10 hours. The 1800mAh Li-Polymer battery can add up to 10 days (240 hours) of standby time, and up to 8 hours of talk time.

Attached To an iPod Touch

Attached To An iPod Touch

I was really impressed by how much extra use this battery gave me.  It really did revitalize my experience by allowing me to use my iPod Touch online, without worrying about my battery failing at any given moment.

What We Like–
easy to carry
On/Off switch gives more control than with most external batteries I have used.
Adds significant run time to the iPhone.

What Needs Improvement —
Even more of a fingerprint magnet than the iPhone
Covers the headphone plug when it is attached to the iPod Touch

The iPWR iPhone/iPod backup battery is available directly from Wireless Input. It retails for $89.99 but is currently on sale for $49.95.

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4 replies

  1. Will this allow you to sync through?

    Also, what’s it like talking on the phone with this hanging off the bottom? I envision it falling off while I hold the phone to my ear.

    In my mind this seems like a re-charge solution rather than something that I’d use attached to my iPhone.

  2. Sync- NO.
    The fact that on the Touch the earphone port is blocked is is significant limitation too.

    “Using as phone”- The grip is pretty tight but I suspect it would get loose over time.

    “re-charge solution”- A pretty good way to describe it. BUT it can be used while using the device- just not optimal.

    At the same time, halfway into a somewhat light work day today and my battery was gone so this little device will see a lot of use.

    I’m also looking forward to the release of the Mophie for 3G.

  3. You’d think that they would have thought of a pass-through headphone plug if they knew they would be covering the jack.

  4. I need to get one of these babies.