The iPhone 3GS is like a Formula One car: fast, sleek and a thrill to drive. And then, every hour or so, it has to hit the pits to refuel (only, unlike refueling an F1 car, it takes hours, not seconds). Now, imagine if every F1 car had button on the steering wheel that the driver could punch, and a fuel cell would drop from some kind of team drone-copter and refuel the car while it was rocketing around the track. Pretty cool, right? Well, that’s what using the TruePower iV Pro is like.
The first time I realized how indispensable a tool the iV Pro, with its massive 3100 mAh battery, was as a survival tool during CES — I don’t want to imagine the sort of headaches I’d have experienced if I hadn’t had it with me. In fact, I was able to easily make it through an entire day — and evening — of heavy iPhone use without hooking up to a USB port.
The iV Pro is pretty simple to use; just slip an iPhone or iPod Touch (thanks to the iV Pro’s open design, any model of iPhone or even the 1G iPt fits nicely) and the unit automatically turns on and begins charging. There’s a power button on the back, and a button that displays remaining capacity via four LEDs.
But that’s not all — the iV Pro also has a USB port (just above the mini-USB port used to charge the unit) that can either charge assorted paraphernalia, or be used as a pass-through to charge or power gadgets while the iV Pro is charging; at one amp, the USB port’s a monster, providing way more than enough heft to pretty much power any gadget out there that isn’t, say, some kind of USB-powered circular saw. Oh, and throw in a blindingly bright (if a little too diffuse) LED flashlight on the back.
TruePower’s performance claims may be a little on the optimistic side. Our tests revealed the iV had enough juice to refill a completely depleted iPhone 3GS 1.5 times. Once depleted itself, the iV Pro will fast-charge to 3/4 full in about and hour and 20 minutes; good thing too, because it took a whopping 10.5 (!) hours to charge the iV’s massive power cell completely. TruePower also claims the iV actually improves performance of the iPhone’s cellular and wifi radios, and this may be the case, although there wasn’t an easy way to verify this. The pack certainly didn’t seem to hurt performance while it was attached.
One final note — I twice experienced quirky behavior from the pack. On one occasion it flatly refused to charge or turn on. TruePower suggested I switch USB chargers, which fixed the problem (though the charger works just fine). Another time, right after I popped in my iPhone it started rapidly cycling the phone on and off . I had to plug the iV Pro in to a USB in order to get it to stop. Neither instance occurred more than once.