One of the unfortunate consequences of our increasing use of sophisticated mobile devices is the decline in battery life. It's a problem that affects all mobile devices – if you suddenly have a flurry of calls, or need to use the data intensively whilst on a trip away from a power source, you might find yourself with a dead phone.
Jumping on the battery bandwagon are a growing number of providers, from cases to external batteries, such as the RichardSolo 1800, which offer something of a solution.
The 1800 in the name is drawn from the mAh rating of the battery. A small unit, it measures 99 x 52 x 12mm and features a Mini-USB connection on both ends, one male and one female, which adds an extra 12mm to the length.
The basic premise is that you change the RS 1800 and you can then in turn use it to charge your BlackBerry or other mobile device. Charging the RS 1800 takes 5 hours in total and you'll either have to use the included USB cable to do so, or an existing mains charger as one is not provided. You do get a 12v car plug, so it's great for road warriors – it even has two USB slots so you could charge two devices at the same time in your car.
Once the RS 1800 is fully charged (indicated by a solid green LED) it is ready to be used when you need it to either top-up, or fully recharge, your BlackBerry. We tested it with a BlackBerry Curve 8900 and found it did recharge it, but it seemed to stop at 90% battery, even when we left it overnight. Testing it with the Nokia 6700 Classic however, saw a 100% charge.
However, the RS 1800 is pretty smart as an external battery. The arrangement of the two Mini-USB connections means you can charge through it, i.e., connect it and your phone to the same power source. The phone charges, and once it is done, the battery charges. Indicator LEDs let you know which part is charging too, so you know what is going on: useful for overnight charging ready for a busy day.
The battery also stops charging when your device is full, so you can leave it without the worry that the external battery is going to drain itself. When the battery does get low, a red LED comes on to tell you that it has 10% or less power, and remind you to charge it up again. The actual charging time of your device will depend on the state of the handset battery, but like charging from the mains, it will take hours to your phone to a full charge.
Supplied in the box are a couple of cables to make it more useable. The first is a retractable USB cable, either for charging from your PC, or plugged into the car adapter. You also get a Mini-USB and Micro-USB cable, so it will work with the latest generation of BlackBerrys, as well as previous models, or any other handsets using these connections. The actual charge time will vary depending on your handset and the capacity of the battery.
But besides the battery aspect there are a couple of additional features that may (or may not) appeal to the business person in you. A switch on the back lets you use the included LED light or laser pointer, via the press buttons on the front. A strange inclusion, perhaps, but it makes the RS 1800 just that little more practical in your briefcase.
Simple and practical, the RichardSolo 1800 could save your BlackBerry from an early death in the middle of a busy day. It did seem to only charge our phone up the 90%, however, that's pretty much a full charge and for the size and convenience, we like it.
At £64.95, though, it might be one you want to expense.