More Amtrak Stations Get $4.99-a-Day Mobile Phone Battery Kiosks

The plug-in MobileQubes battery packs can be rented daily to help smartphone users extend the charge of their devices when on the road.

MobileQubes, battery charging, battery charger, battery kiosks, Amtrak, hotels, casinos, battery rentals

MobileQubes, which last August placed its first special kiosk that rents plug-in mobile phone battery packs (pictured) to smartphone owners in Chicago's Union Station Amtrak hub, has extended its kiosk network to eight more train stations in Amtrak's North East Corridor.

The latest stations to get the MobileQubes kiosks are Boston's South Station, Boston's Back Bay Station, the Route 128 Station in Westwood, Mass., Providence Station, New York Pennsylvania Station, Philadelphia 30th Street Station, Wilmington Station and Baltimore Penn Station, according to a May 12 announcement by MobileQubes.

The kiosks allow mobile phone users to rent a plug-in battery booster module that gives one to two charges to an Android or iOS smartphone if they've forgotten their charger cord or don't want to wait while their device is charging in a wall socket. The plug-in batteries are called MobileQubes by the company and can be rented at one of its bright-green kiosks for $4.99 for the first 24 hours, plus 99 cents for each extra day up to seven days.

After seven days, the rental is automatically transferred into a purchase and additional rentals accrue until the full price of $44.99 is reached. Renters can return the used battery packs to the original kiosk where they picked them up, at another MobileQubes kiosk in another location or can ask the company to send them a prepaid label to mail it back.

Each kiosk holds 160 of the 3,000mAh rental batteries and recharges each one as it is returned by a user, Sean Carrigan, CEO and co-founder of MobileQubes, told eWEEK. No cord is needed with the modules, which plug into the charging port of a user's smartphone. The company can change the quantities of needed batteries in each location to meet the needs of iOS and Android users, said Carrigan.

MobileQubes also has deployed its battery module kiosks in airports in New Orleans and Memphis, and has placed them in about 102 locations around the country, including in hotels and casinos, said Carrigan. The company plans to have them in 300 to 500 locations by the end of year.

"Right now in the U.S., less than 10 percent of mobile users owns or carries backup batteries with them," he said. "And battery power is the number one demand for users."

That's where the idea for the portable, rental charging module kiosks was born, said Carrigan. "This lets phone users move around and return them later."

MobileQubes is also looking at expanding to U.S. commuter rail systems, other North American countries and to Europe and the Middle East as well, said Carrigan. The project started with a pilot kiosk in Chicago's Amtrak station in mid-2015.

"Amtrak is constantly looking for ways to provide new and innovative amenities for our customers," Mike DeCataldo, Amtrak's senior vice president and general manager of Northeast Corridor operations, said in a statement. "Our commitment to expand and enhance the customer experience through the MobileQubes partnership is another reason why Amtrak is the smarter way to travel."