Rachel Wallace posted her first update on her experience with the OPhone today, after the first full week of using it. She reports that:
It has drained about three times, and powered off, and then a couple of minutes later, sometimes taking a bit longer, some less, it’s turned itself back on, and when it comes back on, it has full battery.
On the one hand, so far, so good — the OPhone seems to be recharging itself when its battery dies, as promised. Closer inspection raises a couple of questions, however.
First, a typical “dumb phone”, lacking internet connectivity or a large screen, can last many days if not weeks on a single charge. Why would the OPhone’s battery have drained three times within one week? One possibility is that the OPhone contains a lithium ion battery that is considerably smaller than the battery in most phones, in order to allow more space in the phone’s case for the Orbo power pack; given that the phone recharges itself, a high capacity between charges would be less important than it is in standard phones, anyway. A more nefarious possibility is that the OPhone contains a long lasting charge in a standard battery, but is designed to appear to discharge and recharge frequently, in order to give the illusion that an Orbo inside is generating power. Unfortunately there’s no way to discriminate between these possibilities without opening the OPhone up, and testing the capacity of its lithium ion battery and the power output of its Orbo power pack, individually.
A second question is whether and how the OPhone, after having discharged to the point that it powers off, is able to recharge to full battery capacity in only a “couple of minutes.” Even low capacity batteries tend to take longer than that to recharge fully. Also, Jennifer Roe was apparently told to expect to wait about two hours for her drained OPhone to fully recharge, so a recharge that takes only a couple of minutes is well beyond even Steorn’s claims. It may be that Wallace’s phone came back to life in a few minutes, and displayed a full battery charge indicator. Or, it may be that her account makes up in enthusiasm for what it lacks in precision. She was, after all, unsure even of how many times the battery had drained, saying it had been “about three times”.
Again, this update just points out the problems with user testimonials from a small number of unpracticed observers who are enlisted directly by Steorn. When and if hundreds of Orbos are finally sent out to anyone who wants to buy one, rip it apart and put it to the test, then we’ll get testimonials worth paying attention to.