My iPhone is a child of the 21st century with one 20th century vestige: the power cable. Despite all of Apple's promises of a wireless future—unfettered Internet, payments and headphones—at the end of the day (or before) I find myself scavenging for power outlets, a caveman in Wingtips.
A new generation of wireless charging devices purports to cut the cable. Instead of tethering your phone to an outlet, inductive chargers allow you to rest a receiver on a charging pad. Some phones already include the tech, but most don't, which means you'll need to cobble together the add-ons. Once you have the necessary accoutrement, you'll be wireless—for all of five millimeters, the width of a couple of nickels. Suffice it to say, I was a wireless charging skeptic.
Mophie changed my mind. The California-based company, which makes an array of iPhone cases, jumped into wireless charging last year with an inductive charging case and a series of charging pads for the home, office and car. I got my hands on their Juice Pack Wireless & Charging Base Charging Case ($99.95) and Charge Force Desk Mount ($59.95, pictured bottom right), both of which are revelatory, though not in the ways I had anticipated.
The Juice Pack Wireless & Charging Base includes everything you need to inductively charge your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. The size of a small book and powered by a standard micro USB cable, the charging pad is well- suited for travel. Meanwhile, the charging case adds a little heft to your phone. Charging is simple: you place your phone screen-up on the charging pad, and it magnetically locks into place. Options include a desk mount for easy access and a vent mount for the car.
Still, inductive charging can seem like just a clever party trick. What sold me on Mophie's approach is that it actually extends your phone's wireless capability. Integrated in the case is a small battery that the company claims will add another five to seven hours of usage. I don't know about all of that, but the case did boost my battery life by about 60 percent, which meant that I could get through a day without charging. I was also pleased that I could charge my phone at my local Starbucks, which has adopted the same (Qi) wireless charging specification.
If you just want inductive charging, affordable alternatives abound. The DanForce Qi Wireless Charging Kit Bundle (top right) comes with everything you need to wirelessly charge an iPhone, including an adhesive receiver and charging pad. The receiver looks like something MacGyver would have cooked up, but it's about half the price of a Mophie Juice Pack. The Nillkin N-JARL Wireless Charging Leather (middle right) integrates an inductive receiver into a leather case for about $10 out the door; the one hitch is that you'll need to purchase some kind of Qi receiver separately.
Inductive charging may not be Star Trek tech, but if it can spare me lugging a power adaptor and a tangle of cable, then beam me up.
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