Geek Gear Review: Everpurse, The Purse That Charges Your Phone

One of the confounding problems with modern mobile devices is how to keep them charged. Sure, the battery on your mobile phone or tablet will last all or much of the day if you just take a few calls, or surf the web at the local Wi-Fi hot spot. Sadly, that’s not all we usually do. Set up e-mail on your mobile device, and the battery drain increases. Play a few rounds of games like Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga and battery levels drop even faster. Then there’s that hour-long call with a friend or for business. What’s a person to do? Carry a power supply and cable to plug in to any electrical outlets to be found? Carry a battery-backed charger? Find a device case that contains a backup battery?

Alas, none of these alternatives has been particularly well thought out in the consumer space. Finding outlets can be awkward, especially when traveling. Battery backed chargers can have cables that make them awkward to carry when not being used. Other chargers attach directly to the unit, making them cumbersome to charge while in a pocket or purse. Device cases with batteries can substantially add to the profile of the devices themselves, can deny the opportunity to use a decorator case or skin, and can be more quickly prone to failure before the devices they contain.

A new entry into this is space is the purse from Everpurse. Funded by a highly successful Kickstarter, it proposes to solve several problems at once. The purse contains a good sized rechargeable battery, which is recharged by merely placing the bag on a special charging pad (see below.) It eliminates the problem of cables by providing a special pocket and proprietary docking system that allows the device to be charged by merely sliding into the bag. It theoretically allows a mobile device to be used as it has always been used and decorated, while greatly expanding the ability to charge its battery.

Judging the success of the Everpurse requires an examination from a number of different directions. How does it perform as a charging device? How does it function as a purse? How does it impact everyday use of the mobile device? The answers are generally good to great, but there are still a few issues that its makers could work out.

The real strength of the Everpurse lay in its ability to conveniently charge a mobile phone. It does this very well. Initiating the battery charging process for the purse is simple: position the purse on the charging pad until the pad beeps and glows blue. Inserting the mobile device (currently limited to the iPhone 4/4s, iPhone 5, and Samsung Galaxy S3/S4) is also simple, and easy to use. There is one thing to which Everpurse users will have to adjust: once connected to the purse, the phone will charge its battery and continue to operate using the purse as its power source. The connection cannot be turned off. This means that leaving a phone connected all day will leave the phone fully charged, but partially or fully drain the battery in the purse.

As a purse, the Everpurse is a functional, well made piece of apparel. Despite containing a significant amount of electronics, it still mostly looks and feels like a soft bag — to the point that first time users may be surprised how stiff one side of the bag is. A potentially more significant issue is its small size. It is sufficient for holding a small wallet, a pair of sunglasses, some keys, a smart phone, and not too much more. The makers at Everpurse consider this to be a feature; the purse can be used on its own, but it also is meant to be small enough to be carried in larger bag. Fortunately, the designers of Everpurse have done their homework. It can be used in medium- and large-sized handbags without much difficulty, making it a flexible accessory.

Finally, there is the question of how the Everpurse affects everyday use and customization of the mobile device. Here is where things are less well thought out, at least for now. The proprietary charging connector imposes some restrictions on how a mobile phone can be connected to it; there must be sufficient clearance around the charging port on the device to allow it to connect properly. This means (in the case of the iPhone 4s we tested at least) some iPhone cases will work with the Everpurse, and some will not. Since this is a new product, it’s not completely clear which cases from which manufacturers work well… though the company now advises that any “snap-on” case should work (for an iPhone.) The company promises to compile lists of cases that do work from its customers, but is currently focused on getting product out the door. In any case, Everpurse provides a clear, hard, snap-on case with each purse. So Everpurse customers will all have cases that they can use, but they may not be the cases to which they are accustomed.

This review would be remiss if it did not comment on production issues and availability with the Everpurse. Looking around at forums and the company Facebook page will reveal some complaints about delays and loose talk of fraud on the part of Everpurse from Kickstarter backers and early customers. The facts are these: based on a Kickstarter funding period from September – October 2012, the original projected ship date for the Everpurse was in March 2013. There have been delays. Purses are only now being sent to most of the Kickstarter backers in September 2013. Some of these delays are due to supply chain issues; though the Everpurse company is located in Chicago and every attempt has been made to use American-made parts and assembly in the U.S., some parts must come from overseas and there have been delays getting shipments through customs. There also were technical issues with some parts at various points. A robust amount of Kickstarter funding also enabled the company to pursue some additional engineering work and product certification that makes the product better as a whole, and is supposed to enable its sale outside the United States. In short, the company has generally been upfront about what’s going on… and it’s a small, new company just bringing its first product to market. These things happen. This is perhaps a caution for Kickstarter backers of consumer goods: it’s not like ordering a regular item. Creating something from nothing can take time.

The Everpurse is a well made item that deserves serious consideration, both as a piece of technology and as a fashion accessory. It capably charges Apple or Samsung mobile phones, and looks good doing it. It may require that phone owners buy or use different phone cases, but the ability to have a charged phone when needed is a plus that more than outweighs any potential minuses.

Now if they could just do something for people who don’t carry a handbag…

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