The iPhone, like most smartphones, doesn’t have great battery life when compared to the more basic ‘feature phones’ which can usually last several days between charges. I tend to charge my iPhone every night, although with normal usage (basically reading Twitter and Facebook on the train, and a few checkins on Foursquare) I only use around 30% of the battery capacity so I could get away with only charging it every other night.
With heavier usage the iPhone can very quickly run down its charge, especially when GPS is involved. Making heavy use of maps, logging outdoor activities with RunKeeper or Geocaching can easily take up 40% of the iPhone’s battery in not much more than a couple of hours. As I use RunKeeper for logging walks, and also Geocache a lot, this is a problem.
iPhones don’t have user-replaceable batteries, and even if they did, it’s unlikely that there would be any way of fitting a higher capacity battery inside it. And there tend not to be any plug sockets out in the middle of fields, nor any extension cables that are more than a few metres long.
The solution is therefore an external battery, and so I bought this TeckNet battery pack from Amazon. It charges up using USB, and then when your iPhone’s internal battery is getting low you plug it in to transfer the power from the external battery to the internal one. It connects using the iPhone’s dock connector at the bottom, and has a series of LEDs that show how much charge is left in it.
Yesterday I went walking, and used RunKeeper to track my route using GPS; I also spent time looking for Geocaches. When I got off the bus at around 9:40am, the battery was at around 90%, but by 12pm it had dropped to 50%. The manual that came with the external battery claims to be able to charge your phone up by 65%, so as I’d stopped for lunch I decided this would be a good time to try it.
Charging isn’t quick, however, with the external battery plugged in, by 2pm the iPhone had returned to 100% charge on its internal battery. For most of this time, GPS was on, and I was also using it quite a bit too, so I am minded to believe the claim that it could restore 65% of the internal battery’s charge. So, it works quite well. Plus, although I’ve only talked about the iPhone here, it will also work with most iPods with a dock connector, including the Nano, Classic and Touch. It won’t work with the iPad though.
Caveats? Although you can still use the phone with the external battery attached, it does make it significantly longer – about two inches. There’s the aforementioned slow transfer of charge, and the plastic on the battery outer casing is a bit cheap and easily scratched. The battery also takes over 5 hours to fully charge. But on the whole I’d still recommend it for those of you who make heavy use of your iPhones while out and about.