In the surprisingly broad world of emergency cell phone chargers, we've learned that the products with the simplest designs work best. Though solar-powered and hand-powered chargers may sound cool, the reality is they don't always work. Instead we prefer products that run off batteries or old-fashioned electricity.
The Smart Backup Battery by Richard Solo is one such charger. With its simple, easy-to-use design, the Backup Battery will zap your Apple iPhone and iPod partway back to life when you're running out of juice. Like the Planon Universal Mobile Charger, it works more as a secondary battery than an actual charger that delivers power from another source. That means you will have to remember to charge it before it can rescue your iPhone, but once it is powered up the Backup Battery will hold its charge until you need it. It's also reasonably priced at $49.95.
The Backup Battery consists of three parts: there's the battery itself, a standard wall plug, and a cable for connecting the first two parts together. The cable is retractable but it can stretch up to 2.5 feet. The backup battery is basic black and measures 2.83 inches by 1.77 inches by 0.49 inch. That makes it small enough to slip into a bag for easy portability. It's also lightweight at 1.76 ounces, but it retains a solid and durable feeling in the hand. At one end is the iPhone/iPod jack, which you can protect with a plastic cap.
To charge the backup battery you need only to plug into the wall. If you lose the wall plug, you also can use your iPhone's wall plug since the Backup Battery's cable uses the same USB connector. Tiny LEDs on the battery show when the battery backup is charged; Richard Solo says the full process should take about 3.5 hours but we showed a full charge after two hours.
Once you need to power your iPhone, you need only to connect the battery and the process will begin immediately. In our initial test, we tried charging our iPhone from a completely dead battery. It powered our iPhone halfway in about 1.5 hours before it was drained of energy. Though we were hoping that the Backup Battery would charge our iPhone completely, the partial charge should give you enough power to get near an electrical socket. We'll run another test just to make sure. Unlike the Cellboost charger, you can use the Backup Battery multiple times. Richard Solo estimates that it will be good for 300 recharge cycles.