back to article Apple gives green light to Eton solar cell iPhone case

At IFA in Berlin, Eton set a shining example among the iPhone 4 portable chargers with its Mobius battery case that features a solar panel on the back. Eton Mobius iPhone 4 solar charger As is the norm with portable solar products, the panel keeps a secondary battery topped up that then offloads its power into the …


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  1. oopsie

    letters and/or digits.

    I assume the idea is that you leave the thing charging up during the day, and then use it to charge your phone overnight so the additional size wouldn't be that important?

    Shame it's a little late for the festival season - doubt i'll be able to get a hold of one in a fortnight's time!

    1. MrT

      Yeah, I thought that

      Very similar to the way the second battery in the keyboard section of an Asus Transformer works, which makes the tablet bit think it's plugged into a charger as the power is shifted from second battery to primary one. This iPhone case ought to charge up independently and only needs to be plugged in when the phone is low on charge; looking like a brick isn't really that much of an issue if the two only come together to transfer power.

      It makes no sense if the phone is docked and in use because the solar cell is facing the table/hand and isn't really charging so it'll only be useful if the phone is face-down between calls etc. (Don't iPhones mute the ringer if face down?) A plug-in solar cell that faces up when the phone is in use would be better for that situation, a bit like the solar cell built into a backpack that Jason Bradbury used on the Gadget Show a few years ago with a Nokia taking snapshots of his day and uploading to a Flickr stream every 30 seconds.

  2. Anomalous Cowturd


    Buy a phone with a removable battery, and a spare battery. ;o)

    1. Chad H.

      So not green

      So you've got more noxious chemicals in the additional battery and are still using the mains which isnt 100% green.

      1. Chris 244

        Still more green than this product

        Both solution require an additional battery, so in that respect call it a tie. So we are down to the "greenness" of charging via mains vs. making a solar-cell panel that will be rendered useless with your next iPhone update.

        Mains win, hands down.

        1. Chad H.


          So you're saying the next iPhone update is going to change the Mains grid power supply?

          1. D@v3

            i would expect that

            they are suggesting that the next iPhone wont fit the case, not that it will use a different power supply

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Paris Hilton

            Re: huh

            <quote>So you're saying the next iPhone update is going to change the Mains grid power supply.</quote>

            No, he's saying that the next iPhone will not fit into this case.

    2. Chad H.

      A different handset

      Isn't an iPhone update - its a new phone.

      The device will still have a use - with the previous model, and given Apple's MO (they tend to keep the older iPhone around as a budget offering) I see this has having a healthly use period...

  3. Inspector Clouseau


    Now we just need transparent pockets for this not to make us look stupid.

  4. Graham Marsden


    ... so all you need to do whilst you're sitting in an outdoor cafe is leave your iPhone on the table in bright sunshine and whoever nicks it will have a nicely charged battery...

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Fantastic design

    it makes the iPhone big and ugly enough that when you leave it out on a table for 8 hours to charge the battery no-one would want to nick it...

    Seriously, though, what's the point of a solar panel on a device that'll be in your pocket for a good proportion of the time, and solar-panel-down (i.e. in use) for the rest of it? Or do they supply a stylish strap to make sure it's always solar-panel-out?

  6. Lord Elpuss Silver badge


    That is one fugly case!

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Absolutely Brilliant Sales Technique

    So why did you leave your precious in full view of everyone?

    Go buy another....

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    It's for the good elements of humanity -- "sun people"

    "I'm talking on sunshine..."

    Seriously El Reg, how long did you keep that one in the drawer waiting for the right moment?

  9. Daniel 4

    One good use...

    Camping/backpacking, or any other trip which takes you off the grid for more than a couple days, may find a special purpose solar charger like this beneficial. Of course, if you're that far off the grid, your phone probably has no signal, so you're probably using mostly the video/audio capabilities. That seems like a strange thing to spend hours per day doing on a wilderness trip, but it's possible. :)


    1. JaimieV

      You forgot GPS

      which is very useful, particularly when out of signal areas.

      This is a terrible looking case, though. I use a separate PV+battery unit that can be tagged onto a hat/rucksack and then plugged into the device when necessary.

    2. Pan_Handle


      Couple days? Did you mean "couple of days"?

  10. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Solar charging rip off

    I've been waiting for a simple commercial solar battery charger for years at a sensible price.

    The little lights I have in my garden cost next to nothing and contain exactly that.

    Yet none of the commonly available battery charger brands have it.

    All the devices that are sold ( in the UK anyway) are elaborate complex devices like the one in your article.

    Yet the one in those lights is so cheap and simple!.

    1. JaimieV

      UK is rarely the best place to buy cheap electronic stuff

  11. Andus McCoatover

    Nokia did this years ago...they had a phone with solar cells on it's back.

    But what's strange is the statement "...Eton VP John R. Smith was beaming with the news that Apple had just approved the Mobius iPhone solar charger/case combo a few days earlier"

    Apple's approval??? Suppose so it can be sold on the Apple shop?

  12. Ralph B

    Baked Apple

    The "iPhone 4 - Important Product Information and Safety Guide" has a section titled "Keeping iPhone Within Acceptable Temperatures" which reads as follows:

    "iPhone is designed to be operated in temperatures between 0º and 35º C (32º to 95º F) and stored in temperatures between -20º and 45º C (-4º to 113º F). Low- or high-temperature conditions might temporarily shorten battery life or cause iPhone to temporarily stop working properly. Leaving iPhone in a parked vehicle or in direct sunlight can cause iPhone to exceed these storage or operating temperature ranges."

    So, if you solar-charging iPhone doesn't get knicked, it'll get cooked.

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