The Gadgets Page

October 22, 2009

Solar Chargers for your iPhone

Filed under: Green Gadgets,PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 12:47 pm

Denver Art Museum by LauraMoncur from FlickrLast month, Mike and I went to Denver for the iPhone Developers Conference. I walked to the Denver Art Museum using directions on my iPhone to get me there. I also took lots of pictures of the exhibits at the museum using my phone’s camera. By the time I got to the top floor, my phone was dead. Not just low, but DEAD.

I am ashamed at the panic that washed over me at that moment.

I use my phone for EVERYTHING! I didn’t even know how to get back to my hotel without my phone. I couldn’t call Mike to come pick me up. I couldn’t text him to tell him I had a dead phone. I couldn’t do anything! It was the first time in YEARS that I have had a phone completely run out of battery on me. To be fair, I had taken 222 photos at the art museum and used the GPS feature to take me to the museum in the first place. Despite begging every employee at the museum, NO one had an iPod charger (surprising, I know).

Fortunately, the museum had a map of the city with my hotel on it, so I could make my way back the old fashioned way, but the entire walk back, I was cursing myself for not carrying SOMETHING with me to keep my iPhone charged. The first thing that came to mind was the Devotec Solar Charger that I reviewed last year. The minute I got back to Salt Lake City, I pulled it out of its box to see if it worked with my iPhone 3GS. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, so I looked for a replacement.

Here’s what I found:

Silicone Solar Charger Battery Case for iPhones at

Silicone Solar Charger Battery Case for iPhones

This charger is a case that stays on your iPhone all the time. It says that it takes less than three hours to charge, but it doesn’t specify whether that is the charging time for its internal battery or the iPhone itself. I like the design of the case, but it DOES add bulk to the phone and the silicone would make it difficult to slide it in and out of a pocket. In my situation in Denver, it wouldn’t have helped me much. I was back and charging my phone in the hotel room within an hour. It might have prevented my phone from dying completely, but it wouldn’t have helped keep it alive to navigate me back to the room.

Additionally, there is no guarantee that this will work on an iPhone 3GS and no reviews from people who had bought it. I decided that this one wouldn’t work for me.

Apple iPhone 3GS Solar Battery Portable Recharger at

Apple iPhone 3GS Solar Battery Portable Recharger

This charger is VERY small and the internal battery can also be charged by plugging it into a wall. Unfortunately, the specifications don’t say how long the charging time is. Since the solar panel is so small, it MUST be less than three hours (which is the charging time of the previous solar charger with a bigger panel). There are no customer reviews, so buying this charger is like shooting in the dark. I decided against it as well.

Leather Solar Charger Battery Case for iPhones at

Leather Solar Charger Battery Case for iPhones

I just couldn’t bring myself to buy this one because it was so UGLY. Not only does it add alot of bulk, but you have to open it up to answer the phone. I’m usually struggling to get to my phone in time already. I don’t need the added impediment of trying to get a case open as well. Once again, there is no guarantee that this will work with the iPhone 3GS and no stated charging times.

Despite all my searching, I was unable to find a solar charger that was nearly as portable as just carrying around the USB charger and a retractable cable. I’m positive that the museum would have let me plug into a wall plug for a few minutes, at least long enough for me to call or text my husband in desperation. Sadly, solar technology isn’t quite ready for those desperate dead iPhone emergencies. I’m sure that when it is, Apple will build it into all of their products. Until then, I’ll just carry around a petite charger in my purse instead.

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