Third Rail zaps iPhone case market with detachable battery pack

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For every gadget that claims to charge an iPhone on the go, there's sure to be a constituency that swears by it (or quite possibly at it). With external battery packs from HyperMac, Zagg, Kensington, Newer and Monoprice, you can dangle a cable; with battery-equipped cases from Exogear, Boost and Kensington you can keep your extra joules right next to your phone. We've seen some clever inventions (the RichardSolo 1800, the PowerEZ) and too-clever ones (the X-Power charger-in-a-cable), but precious few options that give you power when you need it without adding weight, aggravation and charging hassles.

Since Macworld Expo this year, I've been happily using the US$79.99 mophie juice pack air with my iPhone 4 when I need extended power. It's light (about 68 grams), packs a solid 1500 mAh battery and charges reliably and simply with a Micro USB cable. It's a great product, but it does bulk up the phone substantially; if you carry the iPhone in a pocket, you'll notice the difference in weight and size (mophie's 2000 mAh product, the $99.95 juice pack plus, adds even more bulk and mass). I also don't need extra power most of the time; it's only when I've got a busy day on the road, and I can't charge here and there. If there were a way to get the all-in-one convenience of the juice pack without having to carry the battery all the time, I'd love it.

That's why I was excited to check out Third Rail Mobility's new battery and case system for the iPhone 4, developed by a family of entrepreneurs who say they aren't afraid to touch the 'third rail' of mobile consumer electronics in addressing poor battery life. The system, on sale today, pairs a slimline 1250 mAh battery with a light protective case. But this battery comes off, attaching firmly when you need it and staying out of the way in your bag or jacket when you don't. I've been testing a prerelease unit for the past week, hoping to figure out if it truly is the best of both worlds.

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Third Rail zaps iPhone case market with detachable battery pack originally appeared on TUAW on Wed, 11 May 2011 00:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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