Wireless chargers using the Qi (pronounced "chee") inductive power standard are beginning to pick up steam, although none of Apple's products at this time support the standard. The idea is simple: instead of plugging in your device to charge it, you simply lay it on top of a wireless charger and it receives a charge through induction. RAVPower's Wireless Charger (US$35.99) is a great example of one of these chargers, and we were able to test one with the assistance of a Mocreo Qi-enabled charging case for iPhone 5.
- Dimensions: 5.7" x 3.11" x 0.31" (14.48 x 7.9 x .79 cm)
- Weight: 4.5 ounces (127.6 gm)
- Input: DC 5V, 1.5A
- Output: 5V, 1A Max
- Interface for charging pad: USB to micro-USB cable
- Available in black or white finishes
The RAVPower Wireless Charger is quite attractive, a thin white slab with what appears to be a large power button in the middle. Don't be fooled, though -- that'd just a "target" for the best place to place your iPhone while charging. That target appears to be magnetic as well, since the case seemed to be attracted to it and aligned itself when dropped onto the charger pad.
As for a Qi-enabled iPhone charging case, you can find an assortment of them on most online retail websites such as Amazon or Newegg. The Mocreo case provided by RAVPower for this review is a perfect example of an inexpensive "jacket" that your iPhone can wear all the time -- you then just drop the phone/case combo onto the Wireless Charger to top off your iPhone's battery.
One interesting tidbit on the RAVPower website points out that once the phone is charged or removed, the Wireless Charger goes into idle mode to conserve energy.
I'd love to say that I was immediately whisked into the happy world of wireless charging during my testing, but that's not the case. In fact, the case seemed to be the problem! The first time I plopped the iPhone and Mocreo case combo onto the Wireless Charger, I was greeted with a message telling me that the case wasn't a certified product and that it might not work properly all the time. Sure enough, it wouldn't charge the first time around.
I took the case off of the iPhone 5s and put it back on, and was then happy to see the "charging" lightning bolt show up on the iPhone's status bar when I put the case/phone combo back onto the RAVPower Wireless Charger. On occasion, I'm still seeing that error message about the case not being certified, but for the most part it goes away once I remove and replace the case and try again.
The only other indications you get that things are working properly are a faint, high-pitched beep from the charger pad and an LED that flashes green and red.
RAVPower notes that Qi-compliant wireless chargers only charge at about 75 to 85 percent of the rate of wired chargers. As such, charging will take longer. As the company points out, that can be counteracted by the ease with which you can recharge the iPhone by just dropping it onto the charging pad whenever you aren't using it.
That's exactly what I began doing during my testing. As I'd walk away from my desk, I'd pick up the iPhone and the charging would stop. When I'd come back, I dropped the iPhone back onto the pad. It's a lot less of a hassle than grabbing a Lightning plug and popping it into the port.
Despite an early glitch brought on by the Mocreo Qi-enabled case, I found Qi wireless charging of my iPhone 5s through the RAVPower Wireless Charger to be a total revelation. The product is well-designed, and it makes me wish that Apple would embrace the Qi standard for charging of future iPhones and iPads. Are you listening, Cupertino?
For another take on a similar wireless charger from TUAW's Mel Martin, be sure to take a look at his review from earlier this week of the iQi Mobile Receiver and its matching Qi charging pad.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible
Step into the future of wireless charging! We're giving away the test gear that we received from RAVPower, including the Wireless Charger and the Mocreo Qi-enabled case for iPhone 5/5s. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
- Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
- To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
- The entry must be made before February 25, 2014 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
- You may enter only once.
- One winner will be selected and will receive both a RAVPower Wireless Charger valued at $39.99 and a Mocreo Qi-Enabled Wireless Charging Jacket for iPhone 5/5s valued at $16.90.
- Click Here for complete Official Rules.