September 05 2009
The question I get asked more than any other is which are my favourite ever gadgets. Now, when my kids used to ask, “What’s your favourite colour/song/hamster?”, I always said sternly that adults don’t really have favourite anythings. Yet, I have no problem naming my all-time favourite gadgets.
In joint second place are the Meridian F80 music player, the Apple MacBook and the extra-long shoe horn I bought in Ikea for 50p (because it helps you put your shoes on without bending over). In top place, however, comes last June’s version of the Apple iPhone, the 3GS. It is, as far as I am concerned, the greatest gadget ever made (so far). Half of you probably have one by now, so I won’t spend time discussing its many wonders. But many of you will have concluded, as I did within a few days, that its battery life, though not as wretched as some feel, is still, well, a bit lame. And it’s true. Apple has boosted it by five per cent or so in the new version but the difference isn’t noticeable. It’s even made things harder for itself by including a percentage meter to show precisely how fast your battery is running down – a progress which looks quite alarming.
Now, I excuse this lack of oomph – there’s so much going on in an iPhone that it’s a miracle to me that it works for more than an hour per charge – but it’s still dispiriting if you’re out and about to see that you’re down to 65 per cent by your first Caffè Nero. So if you’re an iPhoney, you do need a battery “solution” of some kind. I’m a great champion of Powertraveller’s portable chargers, but this might appeal to you more. The Mophie Juice Pack Air is a jacket into which your iPhone slips, extending its battery life by, hmmm, well, I’d say 60 to 80 per cent. It makes the iPhone a lot bigger and a little heavier, but it still fits nicely in your hand. The Mophie also has a stupid charger lead unlike any other I’ve seen, which means if you lose it, you’re stuffed. But it’s a fine accessory nonetheless. And it also offers a lot of physical protection to your iPhone.