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Review: RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone Battery Charger

The iPhone doesn't have a user-changeable battery. To some that was a non-starter. To others, that was a call to action. Enter the iPhone external battery charger. We've seen them in several forms now, from built-in cases like the Mophie Juice Pack to plug-in units like the RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone.

TiPb had a chance to meet with the very gracious Richard Thalheimer at Macworld, who shared his enthusiasm for the RichardSolo 1800 and asked us to give it a try. Seeing as how, between email, twitter, blogging, texting, and calling, I was draining our iPhones near dry, I was more than happy to.

So how did it do? Read on after the break!

What's in the Box

The RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone comes with the battery charger itself, which is shaped roughly like smaller, thinner version of the iPhone, and includes a locking dock connecter (yes!), charging light, and two buttons which activate the laser pointer and the LED flashlight.

Yep, it's a multi-tasker, and while I haven't yet found a use for the extra features, it is kind of reassuring to know they exist in case I ever need to find my keys in a dark room, or simply annoy a friend.

Also included is a retractable mini-USB to USB cable for charging with adapters for both an AC outlet and a car charger. Since the purpose of RichardSolo 1800 is to keep you juiced up on the go, it's nice to have multiple options for charging the 1800 itself. However, while USB is a standard, I can't help but think if the RichardSolo 1800 itself used a dock connector for charging, just like the iPhone, that AC adapter and car charger could do double duty charging the iPhone as well. (Note: you can work around this by plugging the iPhone into the RichardSolo, and the RichardSolo into the USB cable, so it's a small niggle).

Lastly, the box includes braces for both the iPhone 3G and the original iPhone 2G. If you're ever in a pinch and need to use your iPhone while charging it with the RichardSolo 1800, the brace will help keep everything more stable. It's not as solid as a case-form external battery charger, of course, but if you're careful, it's usable enough.

How it Works

To charge the RichardSolo, you plug it into the retractable USB cable, and plug that into a handy USB socket -- or into either of the adapters mentioned above. RichardSolo recommends you charge the 1800 for a minimum of 5 hours, twice, to get maximum initial capacity. That's probably a fair indication of ongoing best practices as well.

Once the RichardSolo 1800 is charged, you plug it into the iPhone and move that charge on over! Thankfully, the 1800 will "lock" onto the iPhone dock, and requires you to pinch two buttons on the side to release it -- a nice feature to prevent unintentional disconnection. Since the 1800 charges through a dock connector, you could theoretically use it to charge the iPod touch -- or any other iPod -- as well, though I personally haven't tried that out yet.

From nearly dead to fully charged, it took somewhere between 1:30 and 1:45 to completely recharge my iPhone, and the 1800 still had power left to spare.

Final Thoughts

Is it unwieldily? Sure, hanging even a slim battery sized object off the bottom of your iPhone can be annoying, but what's more annoying is running out of power halfway through a conference, nary a port or outlet in sight. So it comes down to a choice, something less obtrusive like the aforementioned Mophie Juice Pack, which only works on the iPhone 3G, or the RichardSolo 1800, which isn't as elegant but can be used on all iPhones and iPods alike?

Pros

  • Can charge any iPhone or iPod
  • Slim profile makes it highly portable
  • Includes USB, AC, and car charging options
  • Built in flash and flippin' laser beam!

Cons

  • Dongle-like solution less ideal for using-while-charging

TiPb Rating

The iPhone blog 4 Star Review

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Review: RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone Battery Charger

29 Comments
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An iPhone not having enough battery life is a clear indication of it's user not having enough of a life.

If you're going to use it as netbook or even laptop replacement -- as more and more people seem to be doing for day trips, conferences, etc. -- or as an entertainment device during travel, given that it's also a phone, having the ability to re-charge it on the go becomes a necessity.

@Rene: You're right. I'm not saying this charger has no purpose for business users. I'm commenting on the first paragraph and people's endless tiresome claims that the iPhone battery doesn't last long enough and that they should be removable.
I've been reading people's usage habits here for quite awhile now, and it seems 80% aren't using their iPhones as laptops or for travel... but rather to sit around at home texting, watching tiny movies, and playing games... while their computers sit nearby within reach. Then they complain about the battery life.
That's all I'm saying... they're missing out on life.

@Steve. So being on the computer "within arms reach" is more of a life than doing the same stuff on your iPhone?.......seems like the same life with a bigger screen

I think Merlin Mann said it well: the iPhone battery life sucks because people never stop using it.
(Conversely, some other handsets must then have batteries that last forever ;) )

I love using the Richard Solo 1800. I really like the fact it came with the car charger. I recommend this to everyone.

i agree rene, i used to have a sony ericsson before i got an iphone 3g and the battery life was amazing on that little SE!!!
...mainly because i only touched it when someone was calling me. lol.

I took mine on vacation on a flight from Ottawa to Hawaii and found it quite handy on the 10 hour flight. I shared it with my wife who really likes using the islots game to practice for the real thing.
It worked fine on the fold-down table.
I know I need to get a life, but what else can you do on a long flight?
Bob

I don't allways use my iPhone for business and still find the battery lacking. Just because I choose to listen to music and watch video when I cumute as well as use in my business day doesn't mean I have no life. Was the iPhone not desighned to make a persons life easier. It's a small minded appinion to say lack of battery is lack of a life.

Critcizing the battery critics is what's annoying. I use my iPhone no more than the Bold, and if I leave it on 3g it won't make it 3/4 off a day - and the Bold goes 2 days on the same 3g network. Sorry but that is ridiculous for a non-removable battery.

This device looks like it provides way too much leverage on the docking port if you ask me. It looks like an accident waiting to happen.

I like it so much I bought TWO. I agree with one poster in that it looks like an accident waiting to happen, but unlike other choices out there, it charges the whole family of iPods (with the shuffle being the only exception). I'm looking into the solar charging options, next :)

iPhone battery life is an exact science by adjusting the draw and load on the battery. Here are a few suggestions. Reduce Push frequency of email or turn off that feature. Turn off Wi-fi and the 3G radio when not needed. Reduce the brightness of the screen. I was able to increase my battery life to 5hr usage and 1 day 13hr standby by tweaking these setting on a new battery. Also, condition any new batteries by providing a full charge and discharge 3-4 times. iPhone teardown and battery installations can be found at http://www.iphonebatteryrepair.com.

I agree with Steve, this is fundamental and a very good idea for people using the Iphone for Business.

It sounds like you're creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place.

This a great product I bought it for Richard solo and came in 3 DAYS for the 5 $ shipping. It charges it about 2 TIMES. Laser pointer Is cool and super bright. You will not regret this. By the way I am selling the custom case for Richard solo on eBay so check that out

Really the pace of technology advancement is awesome. A great progress has been made in the field of mobile communication and mobile broadband.

You you should make changes to the webpage title Review: RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone Battery Charger | TiPb to something more suited for your webpage you write. I loved the blog post yet.