Cell Phone Accessories

WonderCube is a multi-talented smartphone charger you won’t want to leave at home

One problem with smartphones is that they require users to carry around multiple accessories, most notably a charging device. Sometimes, this isn’t always the most efficient way to travel and go about one’s day.

The WonderCube — a tiny device featuring eight-in-one mobile functions —  aims to end that problem. The WonderCubs is small enough such that it can conveniently be attached to a key ring. Some of its features include a foldout flexible USB cord measuring 3 inches when extended; gold-plated connectors that allow quick charging through any USB port; USB On-The-Go (OTG) functionality that provides 64 GB of smartphone storage via a built-in microSD card reader; a battery charger that allows users to plug in a 9-volt battery in order to provide an emergency power boost to a depleted phone battery; a mini LED flashlight; and a phone stand function that can be used in either portrait or landscape mode.

WonderCube’s cable can be used for quick file transfers and backups, as well as for syncing photos, music and videos. Notably, transfers and backups can be achieved even when a network connection isn’t available. The device is scheduled to ship in August in two versions –- one with an Apple Lightning connector for iOS devices and another with a micro USB connector. Each version will set you back $69. Its maker set a goal of raising $50,000 by April 15.

The WonderCube has a lot of potential on account of its small size and its many mobile functions. To be fair, not all of those features are clear winners. Specifically, it’s debatable whether or not smartphone users really need a mini flashlight when there are already multiple apps capable of providing that feature. The OTG function also only works on Android devices for now, although iOS compatibility is expected to be added.

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.

Tech Accessories

inCharge loops you in to tiny, flexible charging cable

USB charging cables determine the stress levels involved in our daily lives. As we’ve become more dependent on our phones, technology has not followed, resulting in battery lives that are far too short to meet the demands of a technology-focused day. inCharge is a portable USB cable on one side and a microUSB or lightning cable on the other that folds onto your keyring. This way, you’ll always have power available to you. inCharge comes in many different fun colors, is flexible, and short enough so that it won’t get all tangled up in your keys. The one downside of this product is that it doesn’t have a wall outlet port, so you must be able to attach it to a computer or laptop for power, unlike the similar Tiny TravelBuddy wall charger. Even so, this product will soon become a must for all smartphone users who depend on their phones. The most basic form of this Italian-made product goes for a $9 donation with estimated delivery set for December 2014. inCharge hopes to raise $20,000 on Indiegogo.

Cell Phone Accessories Chargers/Batteries

Other power bricks don’t stack up to the iDAPT Modulo

The Premise. The more devices people keep on their person as they go about their day, the more likely it is that they’ll need to recharge at some point. Of course, with everyone facing the same dilemma, finding a public outlet can be increasingly difficult. Portable charging solutions are readily available, but rarely ideal.

The Product. Winner of the Best of Show Award at CES 2014, the iDAPT Modulo is a portable recharging solution that is flexible in terms of compatibility and in how much power it can output. As its name implies, the Modulo can be paired up with other Modulos to offer more charging capacity, and more ports to connect devices too, allowing users to share power and keep more devices powered without the use of outlets. The Modulo is about the size of a current smartphone, so it fits almost any pocket, and works with thousands of different devices.

The Pitch. iDAPT’s promotional video for the Modulo takes us through the device’s functionality on an average day. A woman and her friend are charging a phone and tablet respectively over breakfast when she gets an invite to go to lunch. Hopping on her bike, she stuffs the Modulo in her pocket and uses it to keep her phone alive and keep her connected to the online social world. Modulo’s campaign itself is almost entirely comprised of pictures, but they combine to tell the full tale of the device and what it’s capable of. iDAPT wants to raise $30,000 to get through the initial production of the Modulo. Stretch goals are available starting at $50,000 to enable wireless, solar, dual-cable, and crank-operated models.

The Perks. Backers can get a Modulo for $25, complete with cables, skin, and Smart Attach to keep it stuck to a phone if desired. At the $60 tier, backers can get 3 Modulo with 2 cables, 1 Smart Attach, and 3 skins. Additional cables and adapters are available a la carte as well. All rewards expected to arrive in July.

The Potential.  iDAPT already has plenty of experience with the device charging market, and so the Modulo is a natural progression for them. As a standalone, the Modulo’s full smartphone battery charge should get even the most tethered user through the day. By combining chargers, the Modulo could be a great way to enhance off-site collaboration or save a study session even if the stack can get a bit awkward and thick. While most people who need thousands of milliamps will probably go for something with more capacity up front, the idea to charge the packs through other means could be a stronger differentiator than stacking per se.