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Motorola pitches wind-up phone batteries

The handset maker says that by year's end it will start selling a cell phone battery that can be recharged by hand, using an attached hand crank.

Motorola is getting a little cranky.

The handset maker said Thursday that by year's end it would start selling a cell phone battery that can be recharged by hand, using an attached hand crank.

The battery, which weighs 7 ounces and is the size of a cell phone, needs just 45 seconds of cranking to generate enough power for 5 to 6 extra minutes of cell phone life, said Gary Brandt, business director for Motorola's companion products and accessories division. It will cost about $50 when Motorola unleashes it.

The goal, Brandt said, is to give those stuck with a dead cell phone battery a way to generate a few extra minutes of talk time.

"This has happened to me a couple of times, where I had a spare in my briefcase and I thought it was charged," he said. "It wasn't."

At first, the blue and yellow batteries will work only on Motorola phones. But Brandt said the company intends to make it possible to use the same device on other brands, like Nokia or Ericsson, and should have something for sale by the second quarter of 2002.

Motorola is making the device through a partnership with Freeplay Energy Group, which creates other wind-up power sources.