Monthly Archives: February 2014

I have an interest in Bitcoin since years back. Bitcoin is a curiosity. As an electronic money, it can be transmitted through wires so space and time does not matter as much. As a peer-developed artifact, its codes are not governed by institutions. That way, it is valued by communities as many cultures have valued gold and silver.

Since April 2013, much have been discussed about Bitcoin in the media. There are already much heated debates out there; and I would rather not discuss whether bitcoin is a tulip or an innovation as big as the Internet itself. Instead, I would just like to use this space to discuss my own experience using bitcoin. Here, in post #01, I would like to talk about turning my phone battery bitcoin-ready.

Anything electronic has to run on gadgets. My bitcoins are stored with a bitcoin wallet app (Mycelium) on my Samsung S3 phone. When I am paying with bitcoin, I will need to activate that app. But how would I know I can use my phone when I needed to? My S3 battery had never lasted a day. On heavy use, e.g., navigating using Google map or Waze, it would be lucky to last 6 hours. Typically, I have a charge it once I arrived at my office. This makes me wonder if bitcoin is even a feasible payment medium in critical situations.

Last week, I searched on Amazon.com and found an interesting range of extended batteries for S3. The S3 stock battery is 2100mAh but extended batteries can hold a lot more charges. I picked one from Hyperion with about 4000mAh, or twice the normal capacity. The Hyperion battery is thick!

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The image above shows the Hyperion battery inserted into my S3, which had protruded out of the phone body. Check out the image below to get a sense of how thick the new battery is.

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However, when my phone is fitted with the new cover, it looks fine. I used it for a day and it fits into my pocket and on my hand quite well.

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On conservative use, the battery lasts a long time. I was not using GPS that much yesterday but was on WIFI most of the time. The battery now shows about 68% after 18 hours.

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I am visiting DC at this time, and I had used GPS and surf the web quite intensely as I navigated the city. Even so, the battery only went low (not dead) after one full day (1d 0h).

Technologically, phones can be designed to last an entire day. But why is it still commonplace for smartphone users to charge their phones in the middle of the day? Aren’t phones ubiquitous devices? If so, why aren’t sufficient battery life designed into phones’ features? An uneducated guess is that there isn’t really much at stake for the owner when his phone went dead. Smartphones are mostly used for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, navigation, emailing, and so forth. These are not time critical tasks. But I would say that not being able to pay for food and parking tickets are pretty disruptive. To meet these needs, bitcoin wallets needs to be available for payment at all time. For me, an extended battery is currently the most direct solution.

For those interested in the subject of retail payment with bitcoin, other projects like Coinkite’s bitcoin debit card (https://coinkite.com/) and Trezor hardware wallet (http://www.bitcointrezor.com/) are interesting alternative concepts.