Here’s a great idea: why don’t you lug around a separate battery and a different cable to prevent having a dead iPhone, and also make sure you charge up the battery before you head out of the house? No, wait, that’s actually not a great idea, yet it’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to external or supplemental batteries designed for your iDevices. Enter the Bolt by Fluxmob, a Kickstarted project that’s now available in the Bite My Apple store. Bolt replaces your iPhone charger and augments it with a built-in battery in one convenient package, making it easy to carry additional juice for your devices.
Though it sounds ridiculous, my biggest problem with external batteries is remembering to charge them. I’m often left with an inconveniently dead iDevice and searching for two outlets—one to charge my iDevice and one to charge the battery. Even worse, I have to remember to bring a totally separate cable for the battery pack on top of my Lightning/30-pin Dock cables. In the end, I’m usually left with a dead battery and dead iPhone because I didn’t get the whole combination right.
The Bolt solves both of these problems quite handily by replacing your basic iPhone charger. You charge Bolt by plugging it straight into the wall; plug your phone into the Bolt’s USB port and its power circuitry is intelligent enough to handle charging your iPhone and the built-in battery. This means no forgotten cables and no uncharged backup battery. The Bolt is about the same width and depth as Apple’s included USB charger, and it’s only about 2.5x taller, so it’s as easy to throw into a pocket or bag as the Apple charger.
One nice feature on the Bolt is its retractable electrical prongs, something I wish Apple’s iPhone charger had. When you factor in the fixed prongs on Apple’s charger, the difference in dimensions between the Bolt and the Apple charger narrows considerably, which is part of what makes it so easy to swap the Bolt in for your standard charger gear.
The Bolt’s battery is rated at 3,000 mAh. In practical terms, that means you can recharge your iPhone one to two times. I didn’t time exactly how long it took the Bolt to recharge, but plugging it in and charging my phone overnight as I usually do left me with both a fully charged iPhone and Bolt, ready to take on a day of calls, photos, or listening to music without worrying about running out of power. A fully charged Bolt juices up an iPhone just as fast as a standard USB charger, and though it’s capable of charging an iPad, it won’t do so very quickly due to its lower 5W power rating.
When it comes to design, there are lots of intelligent touches that make the Bolt great to use. First are the simple status lights; a series of four blue LEDs illuminate to indicate how full the Bolt’s battery is, and a fifth green LED indicates whether the device is currently active (either charging or being charged). There’s a button that lets you manually turn the Bolt on/off, but I let the Bolt take care of turning itself on when I plugged it in or plugged a device into its USB port. The Bolt travels well, too, as it can use 100-240V with the proper local plug adapter. It’s also smart enough to prioritize attached USB devices when you plug it into the wall, so you’ll never have to worry about having a fully charged Bolt but a dead iPhone.
Well designed devices get out of your way, and the Bolt is easy to forget about as it replaces your traditional charger with a minimum of fuss. There’s no need to carry a micro USB cable or additional power adapter with you—just plug it in like you normally would to charge your iPhone, then take it with you when you head out. You can safely forget it’s there until you need the extra power, and then it’s indispensable to keep you from seeing that dreaded red battery symbol on your iPhone.
Buy the Fluxmob Bolt
Provides: Charging and battery backup for any USB-powered device
Minimum Requirements: USB-powered device such as iPhone/iPod