Solar Powered iPhone – Part 2

When we last saw our hero, the Power Monkey, he had successfully charged the iPhone a couple of times, and also had successfully been recharged through the use of the solar charger in 2RDJ’s studio A.

I can recall seeing that the charge light on the battery unit, originally glowing red, had changed to green. The LCD indicators were also displaying five bars, which I took to mean that the battery unit was fully charged. That was Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday morning the iPhone indicated a lowish level of charge, and I decided that I should give it a top-up charge from the Power Monkey.

This was a great idea in theory, but in practice, it proved problematic: the LCD charge indicator, when I turned the Power Monkey on, displayed four, rather five, bars. Where did the other bar go? I have no idea.


But that was just the start of the problem. Logically, one might be inclined to believe that by displaying four bars out of a possible five, the battery perhaps held 4/5 (80%) of its maximum charge, and that level of charge should not present any challenges.

I left the units connected, so that the Power Monkey could recharge the iPhone, and returned to check on the status after about an hour. I was very surprised, and very disappointed, to see that the iPhone’s display was telling me that it was no longer being charged, and that its level of charge had not increased substantially from an hour earlier.

Looking at the Power Monkey, all was revealed: it had turned itself off. Turning it on, its battery charge indicator was just one bar, and the battery icon was flashing, indicating that it was in need of a charge.

The battery was exhausted!

Needless to say, I was very disappointed with this outcome. I was especially disappointed at the absence of any real indication as to the true level of the power available from the Power Monkey, as demonstrated by its change of state from an indicated four bars to a level of exhausted in less than an hour, along with any real evidence of a transfer of power from the Power Monkey’sbattery to that of my iPhone.


Over this last few days, the level of sunshine in Sydney has not been good, and thus I’ve not been able to recharge the Power Monkey using the solar cell. I’m disappointed, because I truly wanted this to work, and to work well.

I want to continue this experiment into the next few weeks and months, because I am of the belief that the theory is sound.

I also see some benefits in the use of this device: one of my greatest frustrations, when traveling, is the number and variety of different power adapters ad charges you need to carry with you for a trip. One for your computer, another for your phone, a third for your music player, then there’s your GPS, your camera, your external storage device, your sound recorder (if you’re recording interviews and the like, as a journalist might) … the list goes on and on.

I find the concept of taking just one power adapter, and a supply of interchangeable tips, to be a compellingly attractive one, and the basic promise offered by the Power Monkey seems to make this concept a potential reality, with the additional benefit of being able to use solar power instead of mains power as a power source.

But the battery provided with the Power Monkey Express might be a tad under-specified for this usage. At this stage, I’m still undecided, but I’m going to persevere with my observations and report further.

Look for Part 3 and final review (with grade) in a few weeks.