New case from mobile.brando.com.hk is a perfect iPhone companion for the sun
I'm always looking for that killer story idea - you know - the one which has all the elements of interest and buzzwords... Like iPhone, green, gadget, etc. When I learned there was a new solar leather case for the iPhone 3G out of Hong Kong, I had to get my hands on it. I received this case a few weeks back and to be honest, I didn't think the current weather in Connecticut was good to be testing anything outdoors. Tom Keating suggested I place the case under an indoor light for a few days to see what happens. Sadly, nothing.
As you know, I have a passion for writing and doing whatever it takes to get the story - and getting it right. And I wanted this one to be good and I realized I needed to find a way to test this case in a way that allowed its strengths and weaknesses to be showcased so my readers could make an informed purchasing decision. I scoured the map and weather.com for hours and finally decided the Cayman Islands were the ideal place for this sort of review.
Next I had to explain to my coworkers that this assignment would have to be lengthy as we won't have appropriate sun for testing on the northeast coast of the US for about six months. My editors were easily convinced but the finance team may have slipped me a dirty look or two - I am not quite sure as I was out the door and on the flight so fast that heads spun.
So does the case work? Yes. It has a battery built-in which can be charged with a mini USB cable for a total of 1,500 mAh. Three hours is about all you need for the case to be fully charged and this is about enough power to charge the iPhone to about 50% capacity.
What worked best for me was to leave the case on the dashboard in the sun and plug in the iPhone when I was driving. The sun down here is strong and I found the case gains charge rapidly - even with indirect sunlight. It is a bit clunky and I prefer to take the phone out of the case when I use it. This is accomplished by gently rocking the phone from side to side while pulling upwards. It is worth mentioning the case will block the camera lens but not the speakers of the iPhone.
In actual operation, the charger works splendidly... It has bright blue LEDs to tell you charge level. Sadly, the manual was translated as poorly as any I have ever seen. This is really not that important though because for a $48 case it is pretty easy to use and you don't really need to be a rocket scientist to work it. Moreover you get about a 50% charge from this case when it is fully charged.
For under $50 getting a leather case, battery and solar panel that works with the iPhone is a great deal. The case is slim for what it does but still a bit clunky as it doesn't easily slip into a pocket.
Still, I feel this case requires more evaluation under strong equatorial sun and I expect to ensure the proper operation of this case in a manner with the quality you have come to expect in my blog. :)
As I posted this story, the website mentioned the device is now discontinued. More ironic this could not be and I am awaiting confirmation from the company on whether this information is accurate.