Make Your Cell Phone Live Longer

It never fails. Right when you need it most, your cell phone battery fizzles out, with nary an electric outlet or recharging cable in sight. Sound familiar? Then Electric Fuel Corp. has good news for you.

The company has developed new Instant Power disposable batteries and chargers. Electric Fuel says the batteries will last three to five times as long as typical internal batteries between charges and are widely available and affordable. Prices for the batteries will range from US$12 to $16, depending on the type of phone.

Both the batteries and $30 recharging kits are based on zinc-air technology, which Electric Fuel's Jonathan Whartman says is environmentally safe, so disposing them poses no more threat to the environment than tossing an alkaline battery.

The batteries draw oxygen from the atmosphere (hence the signature holes all over the units). By Christmas, the batteries will be available under the brand name EverActive at WalMart stores throughout the country.

Each battery supplies 3300 milli-amperes of power, compared to 700 to 900 milli-amperes for typical internal recharging batteries. Batteries are available now for most models from four leading mobile phone manufacturers--Nokia, Motorola, Ericsson, and Samsung--with others to follow.

The recharging kits, which are about ship, can be used two to four times. They include the required recharging cable and a sealable airtight bag (to keep the unit from losing power between charges). At launch, kits will be available for all of the above lines plus selected phones by Panasonic, Siemens, and Philips.

Electric Fuel is at work on batteries for other devices, as well. The company's booth at Comdex showed a prototype of a unit to recharge Palm V series personal digital assistants, and Whartman said batteries for Handspring products are in development.

Israel-based Electric Fuel has no relation to Electrofuel, a company that developed long-life batteries for notebook PCs.

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