Tuesday, November 17, 2009

iPhone, GPS, and battery capacity

One of things that attracted me to the iPhone 3Gs the GPS apps available to plan and track my bike rides. It wasn't too hard to decide on the MotionX GPS app that is both very capable app and reasonably priced at just $2.99.

I suspected that I was going to need an external battery and my first ride with the GPS confirmed it. After only a few hours with the GPS app running it consumed enough of the battery's charge that I had to stop it so I would have a phone if needed during the ride.

When I got back home I started searching for a high capacity rechargeable external battery. The ones I found were disappointing either from the standpoint of battery capacity or how they attached to the iPhone.

Some were units that plugged into the bottom of the phone extending its overall length and putting what think is unacceptable stress on the iPhone's connnector. Others connected to the iPhone using a cable making them clumsy to use with it attached.
I decided what I needed was something that did not plug into the iPhone, but something the iPhone plugged into. The ideal was the battery should be basically a case housing the iPhone, but not interfering with normal operation.

What I found was the FastMac TruePower iV iPhone Battery Charger. It has a whopping 3100mAh battery compared to the iPhone 3Gs battery of only 1150 mAH. That is 2.7x more battery capacity! The extra bonus is a "flash" which is just a LED light activated by an external switch is handy when you need a flashlight, but not much good for pictures. It also has a USB connector to allow the TruePower iV to charge devices such as Bluetooth headsets which I haven't used yet.

A desktop test showed the additional battery capacity allowed for over 8 hours of full use of the MotionX GPS app with battery capacity to spare. This meets my need to have GPS for an long day's ride without compromise.

The TruePower iV is near perfect, but there are a few misses. At about $100 USD, its expensive. It doesn't provide the same protection as the typical case. It doesn't hold the iPhone as tightly as I would like leaving the possibility of it becoming accidentally unplugged especially when in my backpack.

For a full description of the FastMac's TruePower iV go to http://fastmac.com/iv.php

Disclosure -
My only relationship with MotionX, Apple, AT&T, and FastMac is that of paying customer.