Gridcase’s Reactor Is A $149 iPhone 5 Case With A Battery-Boosting Built In Hand-Crank (Or It Will Be If It Gets Crowdfunded)

One of the criticisms Android fans like to level at the iPhone is its non-get-at-able battery — meaning you can’t carry a spare (or rip the battery out to hard reset the phone). So here’s a bit of kit that proposes to help iPhone owners who have run out of juice. Gridcase’s Reactor case for the iPhone 5 will include a crank for manually charging the battery to eke a little more juice out of your device when there’s no wall sockets in sight.

Reactor doesn’t exist yet — Gridcase is kicking off a crowdfunding campaign to “provide the funds for the final industrial design and transition of the prototype into production” — with its target goal being a rather hefty $350,000. But it has knocked up the following 3D renders of the Reactor:gridcase
Details of exactly how the Reactor works are pretty thin on the ground at this point because unfortunately for the company the new crowdfunding site it intends to use for the campaign, Crowd Supply, hasn’t launched yet (instead you get a ‘launching soon’ holding page). Update: The Reactor crowdfunding page (and Crowd Supply site) has now launched.

Here’s how Gridcase describes the Reactor in its release:

The Reactor utilizes a patent-pending, ultra-thin generator to enable users to manually charge the battery of their iPhone 5 when wall outlets are unavailable. The Reactor is designed to provide an all-important power boost when critical data must be retrieved or essential communication becomes necessary.

Since the Reactor is embedded into the phone’s case, there’s never a circumstance where the phone is without power. A small built-in battery provides enough of a boost to revive a dead phone, while manually cranking the generator can extend the battery life of the iPhone indefinitely.

The product specifications on the Reactor crowdfunding page are as follows:

  • iPhone 5 Two-Piece Case with Built-in Patented Micro-Generator
  • 400mAh Boost Battery
  • 500mA Manual Generator
  • 8.5mm Thickness
  • 4.5 oz Weight

Hand-crank-powered charging is unlikely to generate a huge amount of charge, without a huge amount of effort so manage your expectations accordingly of exactly how practically useful a hand-cranked battery charger will be.

Gridcase’s wording talks of “an all-important power boost when critical data must be retrieved or essential communication becomes necessary”. So think sending a few text messages, rather than being able to finish watching that movie on Netflix. Notably the project page does not include any concrete details on how much charge an hour of cranking will earn you.

While Gridcase is starting with the iPhone 5, it says it plans to expand the range to other smartphones in future. Assuming, of course, it managed to crank up enough interest to get its project funded.

The Reactor for iPhone 5 case is expected to retail for $149, although the first 10,000 Reactors are being offered at an early-bird pledge level of $99. Deliveries are slated to begin in October 2013. As well as hosting the crowdfunding campaign, Crowd Supply will stock the Reactor once/if it’s available — acting as Gridcase’s ecommerce reseller.