Since it’s perfect for boaters and other outdoorsy folks Novothink sent me one of their solar iPod and iPhone Surge chargers to test out and review. I figured this was a good fit, considering how many times I’ve seen gadgets, gizmos, and cell phones fail due to dead batteries when a charger wasn’t close at hand, so I gave the Surge a try.

This little solar panel (it’s just a hair larger then an iPhone) has a 1320mAH built-in li-ion battery, which more then doubles the iPhone’s battery capacity. The solar cells feed it a charge as necessary, and it has an integrated thermal sensor to prevent overheating. Four LED’s indicate the state of charge, and starting fresh it’ll provide up to four hours of 3G talk time, eight hours of 2G talk time, and 240 hours of stand-by. On cloudy days or in low-light situations, the Surge can be charged via a USB.

After sliding an iPhone into the slot (a male pin connector slides right into the iPhone’s receiver, to connect the unit with the Surge), it started charging immediately and automatically.

The unit seems like a no-brainer win-win, but there are some issues to consider before you run out and get one. First off it isn’t cheap, with a suggested retail of $79.95 for the iPhone and $69.95 for the iTouch models. More importantly for us fishers and boaters, it can’t get wet and the owners manual explicitly says not to expose it to moisture. For landlubbers that may be a snap, but on a boat… well, you know. Finally, it can’t take temperatures over 140-degrees. That may sound like a lot, but leaving it sitting on the dash of your car on a hot August day could be enough to overheat it. Despite these shortcomings, this is a nifty little unit that packs a very useful punch. Protect it in a dry bag when the spray is flying or the rain is falling, and it’ll serve an iPhone lover well. Check it out at

novothink surge iphone solar charger battery

The NovoThink Surge: A neat way to charge your iPhone where there aren't any plugs - but don't get it wet!