I admit that I am an I-phone junkie. I must admit…
Price Paid: $53
I admit that I am an I-phone junkie. I must admit that I take it with me on every hiking/backpacking trip. I now use Intermap's Accuterra HD for the I-phone as my go-to system, even in the backcountry. This app makes my i-phone a full-fledged GPS unit with all of the other features built right in. The only downfalls to the i-phone are its battery and its durability compared to a dedicated GPS.
The NOVOTHINK SURGE solar charger and power storage for the I-phone (mine is a 32GB 3GS) solves both of these problems. It has a lithium polymer battery, just like an i-phone (but bigger capacity) that can be charged from solar energy (even on overcast days) or by USB.
A solar charge from 0 to 100% on the internal battery is about 12-14 hours depending on conditions, or less than 3 hours by USB. You can even leave the phone in the charger/case (protects the phone's chassis, but not the touchscreen) and synch or charge it with your PC and i-tunes. It is also the first (and to date only) Apple-certified solar charger.
Here are the specs:
- State-of-the-art solar panel allows continuous charging from the sun
- Custom designed and engineered solar panels outputs 5.5V at 100 mAh in full sun
- 2 hours of direct solar exposure provides about 30 minutes of talk time on a 3G network or 60 minutes of talk time on a 2G network
- 1320 mAh battery
- Advanced battery cell technology prevents overcharging
- Custom engineered USB 2.0 cable provides high capacity charging and data exchange
- Powerup and sync with iTunes without removing iPhone from case with the provided USB cable
- Compatible with standard USB charging ports
- Optimized power management system provides continuous charge to the battery in your iPhone
- Durable, lightweight hard-shell construction with soft-touch grip side sections
- Integrated 4 LED battery status indicator
- Built-in Apple certified 30 pin connector
- Made for iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS
- Model No: NT01
Overall this is a fantastic charger. The smart circuitry in the Surge transfers all available power to the inserted phone, and once the phone's power source is topped off, begins to store reserve in its own battery. The case is durable and easy to hold and includes a loop for a lanyard and caribiner for easy carry on trips. For its size and convenience, plus smart power management built in, this charger is top notch.
It served me well on a 3 day weekend trip. I never had to worry about my phone/gps dying on me. Novothink also has a free app for the i-phone to help users determine how much solar time/day the Surge needs to keep the phone operating as one designates.
Update: November 28, 2011
Well, I got less than three true months of use out of it after my first review.
The battery is below par, as I cannot recharge it at all (or my iPhone) any more. Didn't last as long as advertised. Come to find out that the company went under.
Bought it at REI but there is not a store within 50 miles of my home. Great concept, design, and features — poor battery execution — the most important part.