Portable charge & sync battery pack for iPhone and iPod

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

Extra battery for iPhone and iPod

I’m hard on my iPhone’s battery. I compulsively check my email, much as a lab mouse taps a bar in search of a food pellet. I enjoy using Quicklytics, my Analytics app, to assess my Web traffic. I take photos. Using Tweetdeck, I post mobile tweets. (Clickable affiliate links.)

All of this activity quickly drains power from my iPhone 3G. Normally this isn’t a problem: Between the electrical outlets at work, a port on my laptop and my car charger, I can usually replenish a dwindling power supply without much trouble.

But sometimes outlets and car chargers aren’t readily available — for instance, at a conference. Recharging is also a problem when I’m on vacation: When I spend the day on foot exploring a new city, I find my phone needing to take a break much sooner than I do.

With all that in mind, I knew that my phone was going to need some help if it was going to make it through a day at the American Bar Association Tech Show. In addition to my regular phone activities I had loaded the Evernote app on my phone to give it a test run. (I’ll have a review on that later.)

I settled on the DigiPower JS-TALK battery pack, made by Mizco International. It retails for $39.99 but is priced for less here, on Amazon.

The device, which easily fits in the palm of one’s hand, works with the iPod and the iPhone, iPhone 3 and iPhone 3GS, according to the package information. (Online information for the device indicates that it also works with the iPhone 4.) According to the maker of the battery, it will extend talk time by 3.5 hours.

The battery comes with a USB cable that folds into the back of the device. To charge, simply plug it into a USB power source, such as your laptop; an LED display on the front of the battery pack flashes the status of the battery.

After using the battery pack at the ABA Tech Show, here are my observations.

The DigiPower battery pack is easy to carry and use.

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For those who hate reading directions, as I do, this gadget is easy to use. The USB cable is attached to the battery, so it’s one less cord you have to worry about losing. The device is lightweight, and the width of the battery is comparable to that of the iPhone.

DigiPower battery pack for iPhone and iPod

The battery kept my iPhone going well after the point at which it usually gives out.

With constant use during a daylong seminar, my phone usually surrenders sometime around lunch. However, this time I was able to connect the battery pack to the bottom of my phone to charge it. Because this was a road test, rather than a controlled lab experiment, I can’t say whether the claim of 3.5 hours of talk time is correct, but it doesn’t seem off base. A phone that, in my experience and given my use, would typically need recharging by midday was able to function the whole day without needing to scramble for an outlet.

To get a firm connection, I had to partially undress my iPhone.

Portable charge battery

My iPhone case and cover made it difficult to get a secure connection to the battery. My phone would beep to signal that it was charging and then lose the connection with the battery. I tried holding the battery firmly against the iPhone, but this effort required two hands.

However, once I removed the clear plastic back cover of the iPhone and peeled the rubber cover away from the bottom of the phone, the battery plugged in snugly. I had no problem using my iPhone, plugged into the battery, as I sat listening to the lecture.

DigiPower Battery Pack at a Glance

  • Easy to use and carry
  • Extends the life of a dwindling battery
  • Works best if the iPhone cover is removed

But because I didn’t want to cart my phone around in pieces between sessions, I unplugged the battery and put the case back on the phone. I still managed to partially charge the phone, and the battery pack still had some charge left in it. This allowed me to continue charging as needed throughout the remainder of the day.

Overall, the DigiPower battery pack did exactly what I needed: charged my iPhone and allowed me to get through the day without being tied to an outlet. It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to use. If you own an iPhone and need an occasional battery boost but don’t have access to or time to use an outlet or car charger, this battery pack should do the trick.

Have you used the DigiPower battery pack? What did you think of its performance? Is there an alternative you would recommend? We’d like to hear from you.

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