Hydrogen Fuel Cell Phone Charger 'Upp' Launches in UK Apple Stores
Energy technology group Intelligent Energy Holdings today announced the retail launch of the Upp in the United Kingdom. The Upp device is a portable power solution driven by a hydrogen fuel cell that is used to charge USB-compatible devices.
A rumor this past summer claimed Intelligent Energy was partnering with Apple on a patent acquisition and to potentially produce fuel cell technology for future Macbooks and other portable devices. It is unclear if this Upp sales deal is related to that rumored partnership, but Apple patent applications have revealed the company's interest in fuel cell technology over the years.
Using miniaturized hydrogen fuel cells, Upp can deliver instant energy boosts to any USB-powered technology such as smartwatches, phones, portable gaming handhelds, e-readers and digital cameras.
The Upp uses snap-on refillable cartridges, providing a charge which is equivalent to "the same speed as plugging it into the wall." The product can be purchased in a starter pack that comes with the Upp Fuel Cell and one Upp Cartridge for £149, or around $230.
“Upp represents the start of the next generation of energy devices, a signal to the portable electronics market that customers are ready to adopt transformative technologies," Intelligent Energy’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Henri Winand said about the device. "Consumers want energy independence as the demand and reliance on portable devices accelerates.”
The company promises that one cartridge will last for about a week. When in need of one, users can use the Upp smartphone app to find a local Upp Cartridge exchange, hand in the used cartridge, and purchase a new one for £5.95, or about $9. That week of power on average equates to about 900 additional hours of standby or 32 hours of call time, 26 hours of video, or alternatively an extra 40 hours of web browsing.
Pocket-lint went hands-on with the Upp and discovered a few minor caveats to the Upp's design, calling it a "weighty and large beast" and that it "lets out a weird hissing sound and faint odor" when charging up a device. They also pointed concern towards the small number of retail vendors offering cartridge trade-ins at the moment.
It's also worth noting that it's a fledging technology that will no doubt get better over time - hopefully lighter at least - and more widely supported. For now though, if you plan a long trip up a mountain or something, you might find the £149 starter pack (Upp cell and cartridge included) a useful addition to your gear.
The Upp also comes with a downloadable app that displays usage statistics, power levels, Upp Cartridge exchange locations, FAQs, and customer support and can be downloaded from the App Store. The Upp can be purchased at Apple Stores in the UK or on Upp's official website.