Hydrogen fuel cells are, in a word, awesome. The fuel is cheap, as hydrogen isn’t exactly a hard thing to find. They don’t pollute; the byproducts are mostly water and heat. But they’re also hard to manage properly in terms of tracking fuel and to shrink in size. Which is, as you may have guessed, where the Upp comes in handy.

Charge Your Phone Without Electricity

The Upp is essentially a smartphone charger you don’t need to plug into the wall. Just feed it a hydrogen cartridge, plug a USB cable into the port, and then plug in your phone. The Upp will get to work and get your phone fully charged just as if you had it socketed into a wall outlet. Oh, and did we mention it’s just 1.1 pounds?

Impressive, but there are a few drawbacks.

Hydrogen Burn

The biggest one is that each hydrogen cartridge only lasts for about five charges of your smartphone; then you’ll either need to get a new one delivered to you or hit your local store for a hydrogen charge. The good news is that Upp includes an app that automatically detects your hydrogen level and can ship you a new cartridge. The other downside is, while we haven’t handled this, fuel cells do get incredibly hot. One assumes this is safe to handle, but you might not want it sitting in your lap while you charge up.

The First Element


All that said, though, it’s very cool that fuel cells are finally getting a wider acceptance in the marketplace. Like a lot of technologies that convenience us in the First World, this is actually designed to get the Third World on cellular networks; if you don’t have any electricity infrastructure, that can be a real problem. But at least this is relatively cheap; $200 nets you an Upp of your very own.

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.