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Upp comes to the UK with the promise of hydrogen-fuelled device charging

If your smartphone dips into the red while you're out of the house, why scrabble for a portable battery when you can recharge with hydrogen? That's the sales pitch being made for the Upp, anyway. Intelligent Energy's first fuel cell charger is now available in Apple Stores across the UK, as well as on the Upp website. It gives power-hungry gadget fans a cleaner way to keep their devices topped up, but inevitably, there are some caveats. For one, the Upp charger will set you back a whopping £149, an amount that far exceeds the asking price for a handful of portable batteries. For another, the device is a little large and cumbersome; this isn't something you can just slide into a handbag or jacket pocket.

So what's the advantage? Well, unlike regular portable batteries, you don't need to remember to recharge the Upp. Instead, the fuel cell relies on swappable cartridges that can be picked up for £5.95 a pop from various exchange points. The hope is that, should the idea take off, you'll be able to duck into any supermarket or convenience store and pick one up at a moment's notice. The charger supports most USB-enabled devices and individual cartridges will, the company claims, keep a smartphone juiced for a week. There's even an app for checking usage, optimizing cartridges and finding stores that sell refills. Right now though, the Upp feels like a niche product with low availability and a high price of admission. Only the most avid hydrogen fans and charging connoisseurs need apply.