Price As Reviewed $69.96
I love my 3G iPhone, but by far my biggest complaint is the lack of battery life. You see, I rarely actually use my iPhone just to make phone calls. Normally I’m surfing the web, checking my email, updating twitter, or any number of other tasks. Unfortunately, all this web surfing, email checking and music playing eats battery life. In an attempt to resolve this issue, I’ve ended up buying a slew of iPhone chargers over the last few months. I’ve got one in my bedroom, one in my home office, one downstairs in my living room, one on my desk at work and one in my car. I’ve probably spent a small fortune on iPhone chargers and somehow I still seem to constantly be running out of juice when a charger is nowhere to be found. A portable battery pack for the iPhone seemed to be my only solution.
The Richard Solo 1800 is a rectangular battery pack slightly smaller and lighter than the iPhone. It uses the standard Apple 30-pin dock connector to connect to the bottom of the iPhone. At first I was skeptical about the shape and design and how I would use my iPhone with the Richard Solo attached. However, after a few weeks of use I find that I very seldom am actually using my iPhone with the battery attached and when I do it’s not as cumbersome as I initially thought it would be. Plus, if your iPhone is dead and you NEED to make a call or if you’re watching a movie on an airplane, you really don’t care that there’s a battery sticking out of the bottom.
My favorite feature of the Richard Solo is that unlike many other battery packs, it charges the iPhone’s internal battery rather than simply powering the iPhone. This means you can connect the Richard Solo to your iPhone and disconnect it once you have the desired level of charge. While some people may prefer the “slide-in charger” design, I personally find the flexibility of the Richard Solo to be a greater asset. In addition to charging both the original and 3G iPhones, the Richard Solo will also charge just about any iPod. The form factor is fairly small in that it will unobtrusively fit in your pocket or can easily be stored in your purse, laptop bag, or glove compartment.
The Richard Solo has an 1800mAh polymerized lithium-ion battery which will completely recharge a drained iPhone to full capacity and still with charge to spare. Your actual usage time will vary depending on your activity but you should be able to more than double your iPhone battery life when used with the Richard Solo. In my real-world use I find that it’s more than adequate for a day out with moderate to heavy iPhone use. The battery itself will typically charge in about 5 hours or you can “dual charge” both the battery and the iPhone at the same time although this will take longer. Either way, if you plug in your Richard Solo and your iPhone at night, you should be able to fully charge both units and be ready to go by morning.
At $69.99 the Richard Solo 1800 is a great value because not only do you get the battery, you also get an AC wall charger, retractable USB cable and dual port car USB car charger. As someone who has bought a bunch of iPhone chargers I know how expensive they can be and the fact that the Richard Solo offers all these items in one package means you have less chargers to carry when on the road. In fact, I recently traveled home to spend a week with my family at Christmas and was horrified to find out that I forgot to pack my iPhone charger and was already contemplating either stealing my little brother’s iPod charger or running down to Best Buy to get a replacement. I remembered I had the Richard Solo in my travel bag and my problem was solved as I was able to keep both the Richard Solo and my iPhone charged.
The Richard Solo 1800 also includes an LED flashlight and laser pointer. My first impression was that these were gimmicky add-ons and that I would have rather used the space for either more battery capacity or to make the Richard Solo smaller. But, I admit I have used both the laser pointer and the flashlight a time or two while searching for lost keys in my laptop bag or giving a presentation.
All in all, the Richard Solo 1800 has been a great addition to my iPhone and has managed to keep me fully charged no matter where I am. The battery backup is less expensive than many of the alternatives and the wall and car chargers that will also charge your iPhone and other devices adds a lot of value to the package.