Cell Phone Accessories Technology

Light Phone sees the light of a voice-centric credit card-thin cell phone

Many people have become overly reliant on their cell phones, but when they need to make an urgent phone call the device’s battery is often too weak to do that. This is especially the case with smartphones, which quickly eat up battery life.

The Light Phone is a simple, inexpensive credit card-sized cellphone that is lightweight and was designed just to make phone calls. The pre-paid GSM phone works independent of the carrier that the user has a service plan with. That makes it a good device to use as a backup cellphone. Light Phone costs $100 and will ship in May 2016. Its maker is fielding white and black versions of the phone and set a Kickstarter goal of raising $200,000 by June 27.

Light Phone isn’t exactly original. There have been easy-to-use, credit card-sized backup cellphones before that were just designed for making phone calls, including the Talkase. Light Phone’s stripped-down look and features may still be appealing for many customers. Other benefits include its SIM card and an app that can be used in conjunction with the user’s primary cellphone. It also comes with 500 prepaid minutes.


Runcible is unique pocket watch-style mobile phone

For consumers looking for a unique mobile phone with a unique internal and external design, there aren’t many options available on the market today.

The makers of Runcible are out to change that with a mobile phone modeled on the look of pocket watches. Internally, the Runcible’s operating system is built on top of Mozilla’s open source Firefox OS. It features a fully round screen and a palm-sized form factor. Although it uses Bluetooth, LTE and Wi-Fi, Runcible will never beep, alert or otherwise interrupt the user, its maker says.

Runcible is certainly unique, so there might be at least a small group of consumers attracted to it on that basis alone. Beyond that, however, it’s too soon to predict how well Runcible might perform in the marketplace, largely because of the few product details available on Monohm’s website, the device’s manufacturer. The device will ship in late 2015 though product pricing hasn’t  yet been provided. Monohm, though, says the cost will be comparable to a premium, unlocked smartphone.

Maker/Development Technology

You can 3D-print your OwnFone, but forget about fancy apps

Many people like to express themselves with their clothes. But outside of supporting particular brands or buying a licensed cellphone cover, it’s pretty difficult for people to use cellphones to express themselves in a similar way.

The London-based developer of OwnFone is out to change that by allowing people to 3D-print the phone itself versus just a cover. The company allows consumers to either design the device using its maker’s FoneBuilder App website and let his company make it for them, or design OwnFones themselves at home using the company’s PrintFone Dev Kit.

Don’t expect a lot of fancy-functionality, though. OwnPhone is a voice-only mobile phone that works on a 2G mobile network; the product has already been available in the U.K. since 2012. U.S. consumers can now buy one for about $100, and can select from a version with word buttons, image buttons, a number keypad, Braille buttons, or a few other configurations. OwnFone will ship in the U.S. in July. Its maker is trying to raise £200,000 (~$308,000) by March 21.

There is likely a market for custom-made cellphones such as OwnFone. One large segment that will likely find it appealing is kids. But there are likely many parents who won’t be willing to shell out $100 on a mobile phone for their children. There are also likely many people who will opt to spend $100 on a low-end smartphone than a nice custom-made phone with limited functionality.


Cell Phone Accessories Chargers/Batteries

HDkey provides phone-to-phone charging, data sharing

There are times when it would be enormously handy to be able to use a friend’s cellphone to charge a cellphone. HDkey is a device that can be used to do just that. But in addition to phone-to-phone charging, it can also be used for high-speed data transfer of HD video and images.

HDkey offers high speed data sharing with more than 20 times times the speed of Bluetooth. Another key feature is integrated NFC that enables users to share business cards or perform any other kind of data transfer with others in the vicinity. With just a tap of HDkey on a client’s cellphone with NFC capability, the user’s contact details will be stored on the client’s cellphone. Backers can get HDkey for pledges starting at only $10. But it’s not clear how much the device will sell for at retail or when it will ship. WaferLabs is hoping to raise $500 on Indiegogo.

The device is promising. But it’s hard to gauge just how strong demand can be until the retail price is clear. It seems like a strong deal for its $10 or $11 early bird perk offers. However, backers will have to cough up additional money to have it shipped outside of India. HDkey will also only work on phones with microUSB connections.

Cell Phone Accessories

YankCharger prevents cellphone yanking, cord breakages

Just about anybody who regularly charges a cellphone in public places knows how annoying it can be to have their device knocked off of a table while waiting for it to finish charging. Especially when the phone winds up breaking.

The YankCharger, from a Bend, Oregon inventor solves that issue. The anti-yank charging cord has a plug built into it to limit the amount of force that can be applied to a phone charging port. The cord’s reliable connection ensures that the phone will not go flying, no matter how hard the cable is yanked on. Backers who pledge $20 will get a YankCharger with microUSB connection and those who pledge $24 will get a version with lightning connection for iPhones when the device ships in April. The expected retail price of the cord isn’t known. Its inventor is trying to raise $4,500 by Jan. 27 so that he can make a minimum order of product and get the YankCharger custom-tailored to his specifications.

The charging cord has a very narrow purpose, but one that many consumers may find appealing. It’s not clear, however, if consumers will be willing to spend more than $20 just for a cord.

Cell Phone Accessories

Moobitalk takes a low-tech approach to allow hands-free car conversations

Cell phone usage while driving is not only dangerous, but illegal in most states. Many people, however, must suffer a long commute to work and simply can’t remain silent during the whole ride, whether they’re talking to work or their families. Moobitalk seeks to give commuters a way to take on the phone hands-free. It attaches to the seatbelt once it is already fastened. Then, when a call comes in, simply hit speaker phone and attach the phone’s screen to Moobitalk. It uses micro-suction technology to keep the phone in place without damaging the screen. Backers can nab the Swedish-made Moobitalk for £18 (~$29) with an estimated delivery date of December 2014. The hands-free device is hoping to raise £34,000 (~$54,000) on Kickstarter.

Moobitalk is a good idea, but executed poorly. Like many other car-centric devices, GPS’s and DVD players included, Moobitalk requires some setting up before use. So, while the driver is talking there are no hands being used, an incoming call still requires some set up. An ear-attached hands-free device that only requires the push of a button for picking and hanging up calls may be more safe for chatty drivers on the road. In addition, many newer cars come equipped with built-in Bluetooth technology, meaning that pretty soon most hands-free devices will be deemed unnecessary.