Mobile chargers are kind of a hot category these days, which is understandable given the ubiquity of smartphones and their insatiable thirst for power.
To put it another way: your smartphone is always running out of juice, and always at the worst times (like when you need to make a call or you’re about to finally beat that impossible Candy Crush Saga level).
I’ve seen mobile chargers in all shapes and sizes, many of them squeezing their way into card-size frames that can easily slip into a pocket, purse, or even wallet. But as cool as that sounds, they typically have ugly plastic shells and anemic batteries.
That’s why I’m jazzed about the LithiumCard, which combines slick looks and smart design. It’s currently seeking backers on crowd-funding site Indiegogo, but has already blown past its funding goals, meaning it’s just a matter of time before it goes into production.
The LithiumCard is literally the length and width of a credit card, though definitely a little thicker at 5.5mm. I wouldn’t call it wallet-friendly, but neither is it wallet-hostile. It’s certainly slim and light enough to tag along in another pocket, to say nothing of a purse.
Though made of plastic, the LithiumCard has brushed-metal plates on either side to provide added durability and a look that borders on sexy. You’ll be able to buy the charger in a variety of color combinations, including silver with black accents, titanium with red accents, and, if you fund the project now, black chrome with royal-blue accents.
I’ve been testing a prototype for about a week, and so far I’m really liking it. The LithiumCard packs a 1,200mAh rechargeable battery, which offers considerably more power than what’s included in similar products. (I saw one recently that was about the same size, but with a mere 450mAh cell.)
To put that in perspective, the iPhone 5 has a 1,440mAh battery, meaning the LithiumCard would be able to charge it to nearly 75 percent. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 2,600mAh battery, so the LithiumCard wouldn’t even power it past the halfway mark.
Of course, the idea here is to provide supplemental power when you need it, and in that respect it succeeds as advertised. The LithiumCard comes with either a microUSB or Apple Lightning connector on a fold-out rubber arm that tucks seamlessly into the card when not in use. And to charge the card itself, you flip out its standard USB connector, then plug the whole thing into your laptop or any other powered USB port.
Those are huge conveniences, as they save you having to bring along (and potentially lose) external cables. I also like the LithiumCard’s multi-color status LED, a flashy slash that extends half the width of the device. One quick press of the power button reveals how much power the battery has left.
Developer LinearFlux claims the LithiumCard can charge your device at a rate of about one percent per minute, and in my tests with a Motorola Moto X, that seemed about right.
So in about 20 minutes, my phone’s battery got a 20-percent boost. The charger also comes with something called a NanoStik pad, which allows the card to stick to the back of your phone without leaving any permanent residue on either one. At first I didn’t think much of this, but it’s actually pretty ingenious.
The LithiumCard is expected to sell for $50 once it goes into final production. That’s on the steep side for a mobile charger, but I daresay this is the best one I’ve seen in this size category. If you’re constantly running out of juice and don’t want some bulky, corded charger, this is definitely worth a look.