Are Phone-Charging Bags Useful or Just a Gimmick?

Is it really that much harder to carry a charger with you?
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Eliza Brooke
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Is it really that much harder to carry a charger with you?
Photo: Mighty Purse

Photo: Mighty Purse

We've all been there: Out on the town at 2 a.m. -- or 4 p.m. for that matter -- and your phone dies unexpectedly. Or, more accurately, you saw it coming but kept on playing "Flappy Bird." While a lot of bars have phone chargers available behind the counter, there's something not-so-appetizing about leaving your phone/other half alone and vulnerable.

Enter phone-charging bags.

Purses with chargers built in are nothing new, although they're far from widespread at this point. Empowered, one of a growing number of startups creating them, just released its second product style, a leather tote that's compatible with iPhones, Androids, Kindles and iPads. At $289, it's significantly pricier than another, basically identical (but non-charging) tote from Cuyana, which retails for $150. So the big question here is whether the added benefit of a built-in charger is worth it when you could just carry yours with you or go for a handheld backup charger.

The startups out there that are creating phone-charging bags are working hard to fuse tech with style, and in many ways they're succeeding. Mighty Purse keeps its range of colorful leather clutches unfussy and minimalistic. It may not induce a panic attack of excitement the way certain "it" bags do, but it fits into a closet easily and won't hurt the flow of your wardrobe. The same is true of Empowered and Everpurse's offerings, although the latter's square shape is a bit more unusual.

The main issue with these bags is that there just aren't enough of them, which is more of a new market problem than anyone's fault. Unlike with most other bags, you don't have the option to find one that you really love -- you just have to settle for whatever there is. Maybe one day in the future, when the discomfort of not having a functioning phone becomes totally unbearable to our digitized minds, all bags will come with chargers. Until then, you're playing by someone else's rules.

So what do you think? Are rechargable purses a fad or the greatest invention ever?