What's Not: Doesn't effectively charge using sunlight or indoor lighting.
For iPhone 4 users who are power hungry while on the go, having a solar charger makes a lot sense. You can recharge your battery pack even when you are away from any power outlet, just let the sunlight do its work. Some solar charger can even recharge in incandescent light as well as direct sunlight. The SoL Solar Case is a new battery case with solar, incandescent light and USB charging options for the iPhone 4, as well as models for the previous iPhones and iPod touch 2G and 3G. The battery case has a built-in 2400 mAh Lithium Polymer battery and comes with 3 screen protectors and a USB cable for recharging. The battery case performs well on all its intended functions, except it doesn?t charge from solar power effectively.
The SoL Solar Charging Case for the iPhone 4 comes in the form of a case with a battery and solar panel built-in. You can slide the iPhone 4 into the 30-pin connector to charge while the charging case protects the back and sides of the phone. The SoL Solar Charging Case is not slim as the result of the built-in battery and the solar panel, measuring 4.875 x 2.65 x 0.875 inches and weighs 3.6 ounces. The case has a smooth soft touch surface that?s not slippery and for extra grip, the sides of the case have stippled strips. The case also has mic and speaker holes on front near the bottom to let the sound in and out.
The back of the SoL Solar Charging Case is dominated by a solar panel. It also has a lanyard holder and 4 green LED lights indicating the battery?s power level. A push button lives next to the LED lights, and you can check the battery level by press the button. There is a white and brighter LED on the bottom of the case, and when you press the button it will light up and functions as a flashlight in the dark.
The SoL Solar Charging Case isn?t designed to be your permanent case, but while your iPhone 4 is charging in the case, it?s actually quite functional. It has a cutout on the back for the iPhone 4?s rear camera and flash, side cutouts for the silence button and volume buttons, and the top of the phone is uncovered. The case also lets you sync your iPhone 4 while sitting in the case. Its 5-pin Mini USB port passes through both power and data, and the battery case comes with an USB-MiniUSB cable for syncing and charging. Since nothing is covering the front of the iPhone 4, the SoL Solar Charging Case comes with three different protectors: mirror, privacy and fingerprints. So if you use the charging case often, these protective features should help keep your iPhone 4 while it?s charging.
The SoL Solar Charging Case has a 2400 mAh rechargeable Lithium battery and it charges the iPhone 4 quite fast thanks to the built-in ?Rapid Charging Technology?. The battery can effectively charge your iPhone 4 from almost 0% power to 100% within an hour and a half; and it can charge the iPhone 4 one complete cycle plus another a quarter of a full cycle. The battery takes input power at DC 5V, 500mA to 2Ah and outputs DC 5V, 700mA to 2Ah. As with many portable battery cases, the SoL Solar Charging Case has smart battery technology the protects the iPhone 4 from short circuiting, and charges the iPhone 4 first when connected to a power source and drains its own battery before using the iPhone 4?s internal battery.
Charging the SoL Solar Charging Case via AC or computer is easy and smooth. It takes a few hours to fully charge the battery while on AC power and a bit longer via computer USB. The easy and functional features end there. Solar power and indoor lighting charging is painfully slow. We tried charging it on a window sill with a good few hours of sunlight throughout a day, the battery hardly charged itself at all. We then tried putting the solar panel outside under over 8 hours of Texas sun, it charged only 25% of its full capacity. We tried it on two units, and had the same result on both.
As an external battery case, the SoL Solar Charging Case works fine and offers nice protection and convenient charging options. If you don?t mind charging it via an AC outlet or a computer, the battery case can certain offer you some extra talking hours and media play time on your iPhone 4. But if you are looking to live ?green? or just need something that charges without a power outlet, the SoL Solar Charging Case doesn?t make a good choice. The solar charging process needs major improvement before it?s effective. If you don?t mind using a solar charger that?s not in a case form, check out our review of the Revolve xeMini Plus Battery Pack for green power solutions.