It’s a drag to find yourself hunting around for a place to charge your phone when there are no outlets in sight, when you should have known better and charged up before you left the house. And while I’m not so phone dependent that I freak out when juice is gone, I do enjoy all the stuff my phone does for me when I travel — it helps me find my way, it knows where there’s good food, it’s a pocket still/video camera, I can check email, and, I’ll admit it, I’m a Twitter junkie, so I can use it for 140 characters of nonsense from anywhere I’ve got a signal.
The P-Flip Foldable Solar Power for iPhone is a back up battery for those times when you’ve got a signal but no juice. It serves double duty as a docking station and charges up using either solar power or a power cable. Yes, there’s one for your Blackberry — and it fits the 3G and the iPhone 4.
I optimistically set this gadget to charge in my kitchen window in the heart of a Seattle winter. No dice, after 48 hours, it still needed to be plugged in to get fully charged. The site says it takes about 15 hours of sunlight to get a full charge. We hadn’t had 15 hours of sunlight during the whole month, so if you’re thinking you’ll use this as a back up battery at your cloudy destination, you’re wrong indeed. Something to keep in mind if you’re planning to rely on the sun.
My phone is an iPhone 3Gs. In order to use the P-Flip, I had to take my phone out of its protective case. I was hoping the battery pack would do double duty as both a case and a dock. No go, you can’t fold the P-Flip shut when the phone is in there, though it does make a nice dock. The P-Flip is very light and compact –about the size of an iPhone, actually — so it’s easy to find space for it in my laptop bag or carry on. According to the site, it extends talk time up to 6 hours, video or gaming time up to 10 hours, or music time up to 40 hours. That’s a lot of Angry Birds on a long flight.
Having an extra battery is handy when you know you’re not going to be able to charge your phone. I like the idea of a solar charged backup, though in practice this turned out to be not so practical due to my location. With so many off-the-grid apps available, the P-Flip might be a great thing to toss in the pack for a camping trip or overnight where there’s no power or for a journey where your phone acts as your entertainment center. I wanted this gadget to be more than an backup battery, but that’s exactly what it is — and at that, it does a fine job.