One of the first lessons I learned when starting to use the iPhone 3G was that the battery life was terrible. It was worse than the Sidekick‘s and many times will not even make it through a day depending on the amount of usage. Now I know there’s all sorts of tricks and tips for extending battery life (turn down the brightness, disable 3G and Wireless, etc.) but they all have an impact on this high-end device that I want to use to its fullest. I needed a better solution to help my iPhone get through a busy day.
With the Sidekick 3 I suffered from a short battery life, so I would carry around a spare Sidekick 3 battery in my bag. Since the iPhone 3G doesn’t have a replaceable battery, this wasn’t an option for me. So the next best thing was to get a portable battery charger to charge the iPhone on the go. After seeing a friend with one, I decided to get the Kensington Battery Pack (Model K33396US). They aren’t paying me to say this, but I must say it is awesome. It comes with four parts to it, a battery pack, 2 cables, and AC adaptor. The battery pack itself is smaller and thinner than the iPhone, and incredibly light. It has a button of the same style as the Macbook batteries that you can press to light up 5 LEDs to see how much charge is left. There are two ports on the battery, a mini-USB and a regular USB. The battery charger came with two cables, a typical mini-USB to regular USB, and a USB to iPhone/iPod dock connector. In order to charge it you connect the AC adaptor to the battery with the typical miniUSB cable. Since I normally carry one of these with me at all times and they’re standard, this means it’s even more useful. You can also connect it to a normal laptop/desktop USB port as well to charge it. Once the battery is charged, you can also flip the USB cable around plugging it into the standard USB port on the battery and then the miniUSB end into another device such as a Sidekick LX. In order to charge the iPhone you use the USB to iPhone adaptor. Again, another standard cable that is already in my bag. Big big thanks to Kensington for not using any proprietary connectors/adaptors/etc in this product!
So how well does it charge? Well I can seem to get a full charge for either my iPhone or my Sidekick LX and still have a few LEDs left of power. I haven’t tried a full charge of my iPod yet, but I imagine it would be similar. The best part of this little device is it’s versatility. Because companies are starting to use standard connections, I can charge a multitude of devices: iPhone 3G, Sidekick LX, and my iPod Video. And I also don’t have to choose which device to charge when on a trip as I can just charge the battery pack and distribute the power as needed across devices. I do recommend getting a small little bag to keep everything together so you don’t lose anything while digging around for something in your bag.
I bought it for $57 from Amazon.com, and had to wait a few weeks for it to be in stock. You might have beeter luck finding it for a good price elsewhere, like searching for “Kensington battery pack” on eBay even. Here’s the official Kensington page on the device. I’ve copied and pasted the specs below:
* Rechargeable battery pack for back-up power for mobile devices
* Enjoy up to 55 hours of extra iPod music play time, up to 14 hours of iPod video play time, up to 5 hours of mobile or smartphone talk time
* Power and recharge your mobile or smartphone, iPod®, MP3 player, PDA and other mobile devices anywhere you go
* Flexible recharging of Power Pack via notebook USB port or included wall adapter with USB charging cable
* Included Mini-USB cable to charge devices like MotoRazr™, MotoKRZR™, Rim® Blackberry™
* LED battery gauge tells how much power is left in your Power Pack
* Also works with Kensington USB Power Tip pack with retractable USB cable
* Battery Chemistry: Lithium-Ion Polymer
* Certifications: cULus, CE, FCC
* Input: 5VDC (Mini USB) – 1.00A Max — Output: 5VDC (USB) — 1.50A Max.
* Capacity: 1800mAh, (7Wh)