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Universal Hot Swap Charger – this $3 accessory might just transform the way you use your smartphone [Review]

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I’ve got a neat little setup going with my Sony NEX camera which involves using two batteries, one of which is in the camera and the other which is fully charged at all times as a spare. That way, when one battery runs out, I just pop it into the handy charger by my desk, put the fully charged 2nd unit into the camera and I’m ready to go again instantly. Hardly rocket science. But I got to wondering whether this trick might work with my smartphone too, and I think it does.

The key to the whole thing is a cool little accessory I found on eBay after a search, which is a Universal Battery Charger that costs a measly $3 (or £1.75 in old money). The thing is shipped directly from Shenzhen for free (how do they make their money?) and comes in a simple box along with the power block relevant to your country.

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Because I currently use a THL W100 which ships with two batteries for free, it was easy to set up the charge and use process. With standard branded phones like Samsung or similar you’ll need to buy a second battery, which of course will add to the cost, but I’ve found it’s so much easier to carry around a second battery than a battery recharger block or rely on a USB cable and a random available socket or laptop. Just hot swap the battery out of the phone in a couple of seconds and you’ve got a whole heap more power to play with for the rest of the day.

So sorry iPhone users.

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The charger acts as a very slow trickle charger, but if you use it overnight, you’ll always have a battery ready to go in case you over-stretch your phone during the day. This means it’s a cinch to keep two batteries topped up, and I found as an added bonus that you can use it to rejuvenate those old phones lying in your drawer which you don’t use any more. Perfect for giving one to to elderly relatives who need to stay in touch.

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As you can see from the video below, the charger works really well. As I said it’s obviously set to charge very slowly for safety reasons (there’s over-charge fail safe circuitry inside) but it handled a range of different batteries like a champ, including old batteries that had been lying in a dark drawer for more than 2 years. They came back up almost like new (heh), and some even held the charge for more than a week!

It’s one of the first accessories I’ve found in a long while that instantly received the ‘gotta get two’ vote, one for the car and one for home. The amount of times I’ve needed a spare battery or some way to charge up a phone battery quickly and easily while out and about…and now there’s this. Apparently it should handle most modern battery types, as long as you have access to the terminals, which includes cameras and other gadgets I guess.

Oh and the user manual is pretty sub-optimal. Mostly because there isn’t one! Hey, what do you expect for $3? So here’s our own for any of you who go for the product.

Universal Battery Charger Instructions.
1. Insert battery into unit with metal prongs aligned with the two outer metal contacts on the battery (+ and -)
2. Plug unit into electrical wall socket.
3. Indicator light will glow blue to indicate charging has begun.
4. After a while the indicator light will start to turn red.
5. Once the light is completely bright red, the battery is charged and the unit can be unplugged.
6. Note this process can take up to 8 hours to complete, especially with very old batteries.

NB. As per usual, you try this at your own risk, and we assume no liability for any accidents to your cat, phone, gadget, headspace or any other bits and pieces in your life. Caveat emptor and user emptor and all that stuff.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


2 Comments

  • I just ordered 2 of these.
    How’s yours after more than a month ? Still alive and in one piece ?

    • Yeah, going fine so far. I’ve been using it fairly regularly and it seems to hold up. It does need an overnight charge though to do it properly, but that’s fine for me.

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