The Verizon iPhone love fest came and went like my New Year’s in Reno: lots of fireworks, long lines and few surprises. But now that so many more people will be tempted to buy an iPhone, we thought we’d take the opportunity to tally up all the iPhone solar options we’ve seen on the market. And as you can see, there’s a lot of ‘em.
Most of these solar battery cases are really meant for topping off the iPhone battery, and shouldn’t be relied on as a primary power source. Even if you leave most of these devices in the sun for hours, they’ll only give you a small bit of talk time. But still, extending your battery with clean power, is kind of cool and also a convenient conversation starter when you’re trying to pick up that hippy chick (dude) at Whole Foods.
1. Frostfire’s Mooncharge. Design firm Frostfire has created an iPhone 4 case called the “Mooncharge” that has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery at the base with a small solar panel embedded on it that can extend the battery life of the iPhone. Twenty minutes of direct sunlight shining on the case will buy you an extra 50 minutes on standby mode, or 5 minutes of chatting. Cost: $60.
2. Volt Solar Charger. Chinese developer Xiamen Solar Electronics (XSE), has created the Volt Solar Charger which, like the Mooncharge, also connects an extra battery to the iPhone, along with solar panels, to extend the battery life. GoSolarUSA will be selling the Volt Solar Charger in the U.S. Cost: Not available.
3. Novothink’s Surge. Another battery/case/panel combo. The Surge uses a 1320 mAh battery, and two hours of direct sunlight can deliver 30 minutes of talk time on a 3G network (60 minutes of talk time on a 2G network). Cost: $80.
4. Icetech’s Solar Wallet. A modified version of these cases is iceTECH’s i3000 solar charger series. It uses a wallet design, with the solar panel on the outside, and the 1350 mAh lithium-ion battery inside. The wallet can charge the phone fully in direct sunlight in about three hours. Cost: $50.
5. Solio’s Solar Charger. The Solio brand is one of the most well-known when it comes to tapping sunlight for cell phones. The Solio classic charger has three panels that open up like a fan, and deliver power to a 1650 mAh battery. When the battery is fully charged, which takes nine hours, it gives you 10 hours of talk time. Solio also has two other models with different designs. Cost: $100 (classic).
6. Soulra Solar Dock. Made for the outdoor music enthusiast, the Soulra Solar Dock is an outdoor music docking station, powered by solar, for your iPhone. The solar panels power the dock and the device. Pool party! Eton makes the device. Cost: $175.
7. Bonus Round, Some Day Apple? Speculation about Apple adding some kind of solar power feature to its iDevices has popped up periodically over the past several years. In 2008, Apple reportedly filed a patent application that indicated the company was looking at ways to embed solar panels behind the LCD screens of mobile gadgets like iPods, iPhones and laptops.
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