Awesome Stuff: Don't Throw Those Batteries Away Just Yet

from the recharge dept

Batteries are the bane of our mobile existence, limiting the usefulness of our devices and bottlenecking the power that can be built into them. External battery packs have unsurprisingly become a popular item, but with heavy usage they are just another device that needs to be regularly replaced, and another source of batteries that end up in the trash. For this week's awesome stuff, we're looking at the BETTER RE: a small piece of inspired engineering that aims to stem that waste and expense by making old smartphone batteries reusable as external battery packs.

The Good

BETTER RE is, quite simply, a universal smartphone battery adapter. You can hook up any battery inside the chassis and the BETTER RE lets you charge it up and use it to charge your devices. This just seems like a great idea. The creators rightly point out that device-churn has picked up the pace, and today the average smartphone is thrown out while its battery still has lots of life left. This is incredibly inefficient and expensive, not to mention a serious disposal headache and environmental concern — and now we're putting millions of additional external batteries in circulation alongside the phones themselves. The BETTER RE stems that tide from both directions, extending the usefulness of phone batteries and reducing the need for new externals. For the individual, it means a powerpack that lasts forever instead of wearing itself out — plus you can use it as a secondary charger, with quick and simple test functions, making it easier to have multiple phone batteries in rotation. There are also stackable expansion units, so you can amp up those old batteries to charge new, high-power devices.

At $50, the BETTER RE is not dirt-cheap but it seems quite reasonable when you consider that it won't need to be regularly replaced the way batteries themselves do. And as a cool bonus, the creators have been stockpiling and testing old batteries, and will throw them in for $10 a piece on top of the regular pledges.

The Bad

Even the BETTER RE can't truly free us from the tyranny of batteries. There are some obvious limitations to the device when compared to a dedicated high-power battery unit: though it's great for smaller phones, even with three units stacked it can't quite give a full charge to an iPad Air, and the charge it does give takes hours; though it's currently designed to work with just about any smartphone battery of any size, there's no guarantee that compatibility will remain; and, of course, more and more devices are being built with non-removable batteries, which could put the brakes on the entire idea. Because of all this, I actually suspect that the biggest markets for the BETTER RE won't be wealthy high-tech countries but rather parts of the world where cheaper, smaller phones still reign supreme — and that's not a problem, as many devices have found huge success and made a real impact by targeting such markets.

The Stylish

Function is what makes the BETTER RE interesting, but it bears mention that it's no slouch on the fashion front either. It's built from aluminum (in white or black, brushed or matte, all of which look very nice in the product shots) and walnut and maple hardwood. As a nice bonus, laser-engraving on the wood endpiece is included with most backer tiers.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2015 @ 2:03pm

    What's with the godawful music on kickstarter projects? They all seem to use the same!

    It's a decent idea, but as battery performance increases between generations, your old battery might only provide 50% charge on your new phone and might take 5 hours to do so - older batteries not only have less capacity, but might not be able to support a high discharge rate!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2015 @ 7:20am

    "a powerpack that lasts forever"

    So the question becomes how do I know this will actually work as well as the day I get it years later. Many products claim that they will 'last forever' only to find out that, years later, electrodes erode and the thing eventually loses its usefulness over time. Look at cordless phones. In my experience after two years or so you have to replace them and simply replacing the battery does little to fix that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 May 2015 @ 8:07am


      Good Lord, do you live at the bottom of a vinegar lake? What's with the corrosion?

      My cordless phone (Siemens Gigaset somthingorother) is going strong after nigh on 7 years.

      You're doing it wrong, somehow.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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