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Cellink I Mobile Charger and Card Reader review: Cellink I Mobile Charger and Card Reader

Cellink I Mobile Charger and Card Reader

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
4 min read

Admittedly, the Cellink I Mobile Charger and Card Reader doesn't look like much when you see it in its packaging. In fact, if you saw it in a store, I wouldn't be surprised if you confused it with a standard USB key and kept walking.

Cellink I Mobile Charger and Card Reader

Cellink I Mobile Charger and Card Reader

The Good

The <b>Cellink I Mobile Charger and Card Reader</b> wraps up three features into a convenient package.

The Bad

As a backup battery, the Cellink I loses its charge quickly. If your laptop has vertical USB ports, it can be awkward to use.

The Bottom Line

It's not cheap and it's not perfect, but the Cellink I Mobile Charger and Card Reader is a useful and user-friendly tool for smartphones.

In this case, though, I'd encourage you to stop and take a closer look. Indeed, it can store data for transfer to another device, but the Cellink I also serves as a backup battery and a data transfer conduit between your phone and computer. So while it doesn't do anything that other products can't do, it wraps them up in one convenient tool. At $54.95, however, that tool isn't cheap.


Though the Cellink I's design is hardly inspiring, that's nothing to hold against it. And really, what would you expect? At 2.96 inches long by 1.14 inches wide by 0.59 inch deep, it's easily portable and fits comfortably in a pocket. The sliver case is made of plastic, but it safely protects the Cellink I's ports from damage. I wouldn't advise stepping on it with your heel, but you shouldn't have a problem if you drop it on a hard surface.

You'll have to tug a bit to remove the Cellink I from its case, but I appreciate the secure fit. On one end is a standard USB plug (USB 1.1- and USB 2.0-compatible) while the other end has a connection for your phone. Manufacturer Egen makes devices with an iPad/iPad connector or a Micro-USB plug. I used the former, but the features are the same for both products.

Along one side are three tiny status lights and a microSD card slot. Note that you'll need a microSD card if you want to use the Cellink for data storage. That would be fine if it came with a card in the box, but instead you'll have to spend extra cash to use one of the product's most vital features. That's disappointing, particularly considering the product's sticker price.

Data transfer

In my first test with an iPhone 4 and a Lenovo laptop, I used the Cellink I as a replacement for an Apple syncing cable. It works well in that regard, which I'll describe below, but use caution if the USB ports on the side of your laptop are vertical. Since the Cellink I is wider than my laptop, especially with the iPhone connected, I had to balance it off the edge of my desk or prop up my computer at an angle. Needless to say, neither scenario is ideal for normal laptop use. On the other end, I noticed that the Apple 20-pin connector didn't fit my iPhone securely. It didn't disconnect on its own, but the cable tended to pop out if I moved my computer a few inches.

Cellink I
The Cellink I won't be so convenient if the USB drives on your laptop are vertical. Josh Miller/CNET

Once I had a connection, though, my laptop recognized my iPhone and iTunes kicked into gear for syncing. The recognition process took a few seconds longer than normal, but it wasn't a bother. My iPhone also appeared in Windows Explorer, though the Windows Scanner and Camera Wizard didn't activate automatically. Though that's a bit inconvenient, I've also had that problem even when using a cable, so I won't fault the Cellink I. While connected, it delivers a charge to your handset, as well.

Backup battery

In an age of power-hungry smartphones, carrying a backup battery for a full day on the go is never a bad idea. Fortunately, the Cellink I can serve that function, even if its capability is somewhat limited (more on that in a minute). To get started, plug the Cellink I into your computer with or without a phone attached. As the 600 mAh Li polymer battery begins to charge, a red indicator light will shine. When it's full, after about an hour and a half, the light will change to green.

When I connected the Celllink I to my phone soon after charging, it began delivering juice to my phone immediately. The charging rate was slower than with a standard wall charger, but that's not surprising. Egen promises that the Cellink I will deliver about a 40 percent charge for up to 90 minutes of talk time. That's respectable, but like with most backup batteries, it's not designed to deliver a full charge to a completely dead device. Instead, I'd use it to "top off" your phone when you need to.

The Cellink plugs directly into your phone. Josh Miller/CNET

More troubling is that the Cellink I loses its charge quicker than I'd like. When I left it overnight after a full charge, for example, it was useless when I tried to power my phone the next day. Egen promises that it will deliver more than two days of standby time, but that's only if you keep it connected to your phone. I'd much prefer to be able to carry it separately and use it only when needed.

Card reader

As mentioned, the Cellink also functions as a microSD card reader. I used a 2GB card to transfer data back and forth without any problems. Egen does not set a limit for what size card you can use.


It can't make calls, it can't organize your life, and it can't play music, but the Cellink I is one of more useful mobile tools I've seen in a while. Granted, it's not in top form as a backup battery, but for data transfer and as a card reader, it does exactly what it's supposed to do. For the price I wish it came with a memory card, but if it fits your computer comfortably, it may just save you in a pinch.