What Cellphone






Wallet too heavy, credit cards repayments nowhere near the limit? Rick Maybury  can help. Here a few gift ideas for your cellphone, they might even make your life easier....





How many mobile phone accessories can you name that keep your phone safe, and prevent your trousers from falling down? The waistband clips on the Kondor shoulder holster are also pretty good at breaking finger nails, but weíll let that one pass, the stiffness should ease with wear...


Phone holsters are not exactly big news, but this one is different. First the price. It costs less than £30, making it one of, if not the cheapest holster on the market. Second, itís not just a holster. Turn it over and it quickly becomes obvious why itís so large. The phone pouch on the front is sewn onto a zippered wallet, with extra pockets on the back for credit cards, etc., and a couple of little loops, for holding pens.


The wallet and phone holder are made from a soft supple leather, the sides of the holder are elasticated, and the phone is held in place with a simple Velcro strap. One size fits all, at least it should be okay for most small to medium-sized handsets, really tiny phones will rattle around a bit, and larger ones simply wonít get a look in.


The holster is worn on the left shoulder, thereís a waistband clip on the base of the wallet, and another one attached to the Y-shaped elasticated shoulder strap. Thereís a small amount of adjustment in the straps, and itís a comfortable fit for most normal-sized people; those over six-foot might find it a bit tight, though. Quality of manufacture and finish are both very good.


This is an extremely practical design; shoulder holsters are one of the most secure ways of carrying a phone, the wallet and pockets are welcome bonus, affording extra protection for valuables. The price is very attractive too, and it does a splendid imitation of a pair of braces.



Typical Price     £30 (inc. VAT)

Features           front pouch for phone, rear zippered wallet, two pockets and pen/pencil holders

To fit                 most small-medium phones

Contact Kondor, telephone (01202) 481133          




Welcome to What Cellphoneís charger of the month. Itís getting that way, but the proliferation of battery charger-conditioners only serves to highlight the difficulties many cell phone users experience with their batteries.


The problem is simple. Nickel-cadmium, (and some nickel metal-hydride) re-chargeable batteries can loose up to half of their capacity in just a few months of regular use. This is mainly due to the effect of repeatedly Ďtopping upí the battery on a fast charger. Over time the cells inside the battery achieve varying states of charge; most fast chargers shut down when they sense that one or more cells has reached full charge, leaving the rest only partially charged, and the pack as a whole well below its full capacity. The condition, popularly known as nicad Ďmemoryí  can be cured, by regularly discharging all the cells in the pack, so afterwards the next time theyíre charged they all reach full capacity.


That brings us neatly to the Cymon Tel Conditioning Charger. Now it has to be said that itís not radically different to the dozen or so charger-dischargers weíve looked at on these pages in the past year, but this one is remarkably cheap, it should be selling for less than £40, possibly as low as £35, so shop around. One of the reasons for this could be that itís battery-specific. The battery mounting plate cannot be changed -- at least not by the user -- though models are available to fit the batteries used on most popular makes and type of phone. The main disadvantage is that should you change your phone the new batteries may not fit.


The charger can be powered from a plug-in mains adaptor or a car power cord -- both are supplied. The only controls are a switch for selecting fast or slow charge rates, and a discharge button. Next to that thereís a row of five LEDs, the first one is yellow, that shows discharge in progress, the next three are red, they (somewhat optimistically) indicate 30%, 60% and 90% charge, the green one at the end comes on when full charge has been reached.


Charging starts as soon as a battery is clipped on, thereís the option to discharge first, after which it automatically switches to the charge cycle. When it has finished the unit bleeps a few times and the LEDs flash. During discharge the capacity LEDs blink in sequence, giving a relative indication of how far it has to go. All of this is explained on the instruction sheet, though be prepared to translate much it from Taiwanese pidgin English: ĎGreen LED showing completion of charging will be on upon completing charging, and a 10 second alarm is givení,  you get the idea...


It checks out electrically; the discharger takes the battery down to the 1 volt per cell safe limit. It has an automatic time-out to prevent over charging, and the optional slow-charge rate is a good way of prolonging the life of a battery pack. Most of the other charger-dischargers weíve looked at cost between £50 and £80, so £40 for this one looks like a pretty good deal, and if it rejuvenates or extends the lives of just a couple of battery packs it will easily pay for itself.



Typical Price     £38

Features           switchable fast or slow charge rates, discharger, trickle-charge function, charge-level display

To fit                 most popular makes

Contact Cymon Tel, telephone 0171-328 2843




Thereís no doubt about it, the simplest ideas are often the best; take this one from Tandy. Itís the Universal Magic Clip, a thoroughly uninspiring name for an ingenious little widget that costs just £5.99. Itís a combined belt clip, wrist strap and desktop stand, that will fit almost any make or type of mobile phone.  


The kit includes three self-adhesive mounting pads, that stick to the phoneís back panel, or batteries -- thatís why you get three of them -- just clean the surface, peel off the backing tape, press it in position and leave it to cure for 24 hours. The spring-steel belt clip slides in behind the mounting pad and locks securely into position. Once in place it cannot be removed except by inserting a screwdriver, or something similar into a little recess, to release the clip from the pad.


When the clip is place it functions as a simple belt hook. At the top of the clip thereís a small hole for the wrist-strapís spring-loaded turn-buckle. Now we get to the clever part: the belt clip contains a simple fold-out stand, that locks into place and puts the phone at an angle of around 45 degrees. On most handsets thatís a comfortable viewing angle for the LCD display panel, and just right for picking the phone up in a hurry.


Strangely this very useful facility isnít obvious from looking at the clip.  Thereís no reference to it on the front of the packaging, and itís only mentioned in passing on the back, without saying where it is or how to use it. How many people have brought one of these and missed it altogether? The packaging suggests thereís an optional in-car holder for the Magic Clip, though the assistants at our local Tandy store didnít seem to know anything about it.


The real surprise is that we found it at all. Tandy havenít been marketing cellphone accessories for very long, and it doesnít look as though theyíre putting much effort into it, judging by the way theyíre presented in the stores weíve visited. This little gem was tucked away on a display stand, behind a seemingly random assortment of carry cases and batteries, blink and youíll miss it!



Typical Price     £5.99

Features           three-way belt hook, table stand and wrist strap, three self-adhesive mounting plates supplied

To fit                 all phones

Contact your local Tandy store




If it has anything to do with re-chargeable batteries then Uniross are probably involved somewhere down the line. Mobile phones are no exception, and in addition to their range of replacement battery packs and charger dischargers, they have a wide selection of in-car saver-chargers. Weíve been trying out a UCT-310, configured to fit phones in the MicroTAC family, but they cover most popular brands and models, including own-brands and clones made by Ericsson, Mitsubishi, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic and Sony.


Itís a fairly conventional design, the charger unit plugs into the carís cigarette lighter socket, it operates over a range of 12 to 24 volts without adjustment. Thereís a 2-amp fuse inside the tip, an LED indicator on the rear of the charger module, and a curly lead terminated in a phone accessory/power connector. The charger unit is an advanced design, with microchip control giving fast-charge and trickle charge rates. The fast-charge current is a little under 500mA, which means it takes just over an hour to fully charge a standard Micro TAC pack.


So far itís all fairly uncontroversial, but the instructions, or rather what passes for instructions are a minor disaster area, and not just the one supplied with the UCT-310, the same instruction booklet appears to be included with their other types of car cord.  Our gripe concerns the LED indicator on the back of the unit, itís as if it doesnít exist. Thereís no mention of it anywhere. That might not sound like a big concern, but this is no ordinary indicator, depending on the state of the phone and battery when itís connected it does a variety of things, but thereís no way of knowing what any of them mean. Whatís a blinking red light for? It could indicate ten minutes to self-destruct for all we know; equally thereís no way of knowing what a steady red light shows, and is it good or bad when it changes to green?


Even after using the cord for several days weíre still not entirely sure what all of the lights mean: steady red shows the power is on, and blinking red means charge in progress but green just seems to indicate that the phone is switched off, or does it? Thereís no way of finding out. This charger cord appears to work well, and the price is fair but we canít recommended it until Uniross do something about the instructions.



Typical Price     £19.99

Features           12/24 volt operation, fast/trickle charge rates, LED indicator

To fit                 most popular phones     

Contact Uniross Batteries Ltd., (01275) 858101




R. Maybury 1996 0902



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