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When acquiring a supplemental battery for your iPhone/iPad/iPod, be aware of the different types

 

by Jon Chappell

 

One advantage Android mobile phones has over Apple’s mobile devices (including Apple’s popular non-phone/WiFi-enabled iPod touch) is that Android models allow what’s called “user serviceable” batteries. This is not only more environmentally conscious (you don’t replace the unit just because the battery gives out), it has a practical side, too: you can pop in a spare battery when the onboard one goes kaput. These are no bulkier than a pack of sugarless gum, and so are easy to carry. On an Apple device, once your internal battery dies, you have to plug in to a computer or an AC outlet, which is not always possible.

 

Because we live in a time when a mobile-device battery barely lasts the day under normal use — and much less if you truly use you gadget as a mobile computer — spare batteries should be essential components of anyone’s portable rig. And the good news is, they’re cheap and plentiful. But if you’re talking about Apple batteries, it helps to understand that there are two kinds: 1) a simple pop-in replacement for your existing battery, which plugs into the dock, or charging port; and 2) a portable charger/battery, which attaches via a cable, also into the charging port.

 

If you’re really into the portable thing, you’ll want the first type, as it doesn’t really change the footprint of your iThing. You can use it with one hand and operate the unit as you did before. Figure 1 shows the Stitchway, a popular device for this scenario.

 

Stitchway.jpg

Figure 1. The Stitchway is a battery replacement that sticks right into your iDevice’s dock/charging port.

 

The disadvantage is the that these devices don’t last that long, and you can’t charge the external battery and the phone’s battery at the same time.

 

The second type is bulkier, because it has a bigger battery to start with, and usually plugs in via a connecting cable. The battery plus the tether means you’re really negotiating two devices, not one, but if you can stick the remote power unit in a pocket (and you don’t mind the cord), this will give you increased lifespan over the other type. One of my favorite solutions in this format is the Sentina Energy Shot (Figure 2), because it operates on four AA batteries, which you can get just about anywhere, including at a gift shop on top of a mountain. This is about the best hedge against loss of power. 

 

EnergyShot.jpg

Figure 2. The Sentina Energy Shot uses a separate pack and a cable, but it runs on AA batteries.

 

When you travel w/a mobile device you can often feel like you’re living from outlet to outlet. It’s always a race to get your device plugged in. And you can get stuck on the tarmac while you wait for your plane to take off. You start to record a short segment (audio or video) that turns out will last a lot longer than you first anticipated; and the best reason, you’re hit with a burst of creativity that requires you to be online longer, recording, writing, or videotaping your activities. Sometimes uninterrupted power is worth paying for.

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