If you're looking to extend the talk, Web surfing, and multimedia playback time of your iPhone 3G or 3GS, the RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone, a $69.95 portable battery, allows you to stay productive on the move. Unlike its competitors, this charger also comes bundled with wall and car chargers, and a built-in flashlight and laser. Although it powers an iPhone as well as its iPod brethren, the way it attaches to an iPhone makes it somewhat unwieldy.
Measuring 4.4 x 2.0 x 0.5 inches, the RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone resembles a miniature remote control with its elongated black-and-silver design. Its top houses a connector that snugly attaches it to an iPhone; buttons on the right and left sides release the two devices. On the back is a safety switch to lock/unlock the flashlight and laser pointer, which you can turn on using the two buttons on the device's face. In the box you'll find a retractable USB cable; an AC wall charger; a two-port USB car charger; and a small, plastic support brace that helps keep the battery firmly attached to your iPhone.
The 2.2-ounce RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone was the lightest of the iPhone chargers we've tested recently: The Case-Mate iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel (3.2 ounces), Fastmac TruePower iV (3.8 ounces), and Mophie Juice Pack Air (2.3 ounces) were all heavier. Our one concern with this charger is its length. The 1800 is nearly as long as the iPhone 3G; it also looks and feels clunky when attached. It's definitely not a charger you'll want to keep connected all the time.
Three lights indicate the device's status: Red means that the 1800 has less than 10 percent of its charge remaining; blue means that it's charging an iPhone; and, when the device is plugged into a outlet or PC, a flashing green light indicates that the battery is charging; and when the light is solid green, the device is fully charged. Unlike the Case-Mate iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel, Fastmac TruePower iV, and Mophie Juice Pack Air, you can't see the device's charge status, because the lights don't activate until you plug it into an iPhone.
It took just under two hours to fully charge the 1800, and another two hours to charge our iPhone, which is in line with other chargers we've tested. When we connected the 1800 to an iPhone 3G, the phone became operational within a minute; the FastMac TruePower iV was just as fast, but many chargers can take as long as 10 to 15 minutes to accomplish this task. The device itself took 4 hours and 50 minutes to power to a full charge, which was twice as long as many competing chargers.
After completely draining our iPhone 3G, the 1800 was able to supply enough power to charge our handset to about 50 percent before petering out. This puts the RichardSolo 1800 on a par with the Mophie Juice Pack Air and Case-Mate iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel, but leaves it about 1.5 charges short of the bulkier Fastmac TruePower iV.
At $69.95, the RichardSolo 1800 for iPhone costs $10 less than the Case-Mate iPhone 3G/3GS Fuel and Mophie Juice Pack Air, and $30 less than the Fastmac TruePower iV. The lower price of the RichardSolo 1800 comes with trade-offs: Although it provides a decent amount of juice, it has no power switch. And its bulky design makes it more awkward to use when connected than chargers with sled-like designs. Nevertheless, we recommend this device for its light weight, included car and wall chargers, and the bonus laser pointer and flashlight features.