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- - - - -

Wireless charging - supplement, but don't replace...



As the number of Qi enabled devices in my collection increases (Nexus 4, Nexus 7 2013, Galaxy S4), i've been trying out wireless charging. It's cool... but with caveats.

I must confess that when I first got the Nexus 4, I dabbled a little with Qi chargers, but was largely underwhelmed. The main reason for this was that charging pad availability was very limited, they were very expensive and almost every one I tried had something that made me not want to use it (more often than not it was a HUGE FLASHING LED). Bear in mind also that up until recently it has been impossible to get the official LG Charging Orb here.

Just recently my interest was piqued again, first by the realisation that the aforementioned orb is now obtainable to buy in the UK, secondly by the release of the new Nexus 7 with wireless charging and finally because Qi gear is finally getting cheaper. I picked up a S4 wireless charging adaptor and a mini puck charger for just over £30.

The first piece of hardware for my new era of wireless was the LG Wireless Charger WCP-405, better known as the 'Nexus Charging Orb'. The LG version, predictably, is LG branded rather than Nexus branded and sells for £59.99 at MobileFun. Certainly the premium option, but then you get what you pay for...


The Orb is seriously solid. It, of course, looks and feels a lot like the Nexus Q, right down to the metal surround of the USB port. It has a rubber base so it doesn't slide around, is angled for resting your device on with a good viewing angle and has the 'sticky grip' rubber coating often used in car holders. This ensures your device doesn't fall off while it's charging. It's a seriously nice bit of kit, with easy device placement and reliable charging. Bonus: no flashing LEDs!


To supplement my 'main' wireless charger - the Orb - I also picked up a cheap 'puck style' charger from Amazon for £25. The charger is matte plastic on top with a shiny plastic edge and is also rubberised on the bottom but it does include a blue LED that flashes when a device is charging. Thankfully it's not too bright (although it might be annoying in a darkened room at night). Unlike the Orb, no mains adaptor is included in the box - it's intended to be hooked up to your existing charger. The top of the charger has nothing to offer any grip to your device, so if you're using a phone / tablet with a smooth back, it might slide off quite easily.

So they are my chargers... what are they like in use?

They both work with all 3 of my devices devices. The LG charger is a nicer experience overall (as you'd expect given the price) but the cheap little puck isn't bad either. But there's one thing I hadn't really expected when I bought them.. and that is that charging can be rather slow!

Both chargers are rated at the same 1A output but in reality it seems that your device will charge at about the same speed as if it were connected to a 0.7A charger which, given the size of the batteries in devices nowadays, is a little lethargic.

It's this that has made me realise that wireless chargers are designed to be used differently.

When I use a wall charger i'll generally (with one exception, see below) have it in a special place out of the way (bedroom side, office side) and leave my device alone while it charges. Which is fine, because i'm either asleep or not planning to leave it for very long. Wireless charging is different in that you are best off having the wireless charger as an additional charger in different places. Next to the sofa. On your desk at work. Anywhere where you'll be putting the device down anyway and you might want to take advantage of some extra juice.

The other aspect of wireless charging that I didn't really anticipate is that you typically won't be able to use the device while it's on the charger, because if you pick it up it'll stop charging. Obviously. For me this made it a non-starter for next to the bed, as I often want to use my phone before I go to sleep and it's generally gasping for power at that point - having a long cable I can plug in makes more sense.

One final point to note is that when wireless charging, devices seem to get quite hot! It figures, with those coils in there I guess...

So, would I recommend picking up a wireless charger?

Definitely - but as the title says, expect it to supplement, not replace your existing setup. If you are willing to stump up the cost of the LG charger then there's no question it's the best option all round, but that little puck isn't bad either.

About the author

PaulOBrien's Photo
Paul O'Brien founded MoDaCo in 2002 as a site focused on Windows Smartphones and has grown it since then by concentrating on providing a friendly community for both experienced and beginner mobile enthusiasts.

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22 Comments

Thinks I'm going to pick something up for my Nexus 7 as its more likely the device that could sit there for a few days unused and draining.

Used to hate that on the original N7, seemed to eat battery even asleep.

I'm hearing better reports on the 2013 model but I'd still prefer it to be 100% everytime I picked it up off the shelf.
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everett_psycho
Sep 05 2013 02:26 PM
I've got 2 as well, find one at the office really useful to set your phone on to instead of laying it on the desk so you can see it if anything happens, quickly grab and check the email text or whatever and set it back down. I've noticed with my cheaper one especially that placement is key. If placed right my phone charges faster and status a lot cooler than if placed further up or down the pad. Luckily my cheap one is small so finding the sweet spot is a bit easier, but it's not just the chuck your phone on you'd expect. Once you get your head round it being a top up as you go it's good, if you can't adjust from the fully charge at night and use all day approach I don't think it's worth it, even more so if you need to recharge quickly
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everett_psycho
Sep 05 2013 02:29 PM

Thinks I'm going to pick something up for my Nexus 7 as its more likely the device that could sit there for a few days unused and draining.

Used to hate that on the original N7, seemed to eat battery even asleep.

I'm hearing better reports on the 2013 model but I'd still prefer it to be 100% everytime I picked it up off the shelf.


Be careful with this. Quite a few qi chargers seem to like not resuming charge if you're device hits 100% then drops back down.
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James Norton
Sep 05 2013 04:26 PM
This is a great QI charger.

http://www.amazon.co...r/dp/B0051R4ECM

The coil moves to where your device is. It is the one I would get if I was going to use wireless charging.
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Looks very early in the life of QI chargers. No real stand out devices, scant reviews and high cost.

When you do find a cheaper unit there appears to be nothing to tell you if its actually any good.

All very confusing.
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The Soup Thief
Sep 05 2013 08:09 PM
Very valid points - it is a bit of a pain not being able to use devices comfortably while charging. Lots of upsides though. Fwiw, the puck chargers are available for about £14 at Dealextreme http://dx.com/p/metr...re-black-226778 Crazy bargain!
The manufacturer recommends a 2A power pack to provide the charge - seems to charge a bit faster with that, though I've not checked the current coming from it so can't be confident it's made any difference. However a 2A charger seems to make it less likely that your phone will charge to 100% then slowly discharge.
A little bit of insulation tape over the Led works wonders in keeping the room dark over night! Similarly deleting /system/media/audio/ui/WirelessChargingStarted.ogg gets rid of the annoying bleep as you put your phone on the charger.
A weird quirk of wireless charging (I think only) with android 4.3 is that you often get a kernel wakelock that saps a bit of juice (at least you do on the nexus 4).
That one James Norton linked to (with a moving coil) looks fab, though it may be a bit noisy. My metrans charger can be a little bit fussy about positioning (though it's fine once you get used to the sweet spot).
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£14 for the puck isn't too bad but I use a USB extension or good old fashioned power cable to stretch that little farther at about a 1/4 the price. I'd still think about one if a little cheaper. As for the light issue, similar to TST, tape is a good thing to use. The full beam dashboard light on my van has a blue light that blinds you at night so I used a little square of opaque sticky back tape to mute it.
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The Soup Thief
Sep 05 2013 10:13 PM
It's dead handy just to chuck the phone on it when you get home - I have the puck blu-tacked in place beside the edge of my bedside cabinet. When the phone's up against the edge of the cabinet it's lined up in the sweet spot for charging. Easy.
No need to fanny about with plugging in wires or getting the connector the right way up. Well worth the few quid it set me back if only to keep MrsTheSoupThief from complaining so much about the rat's nest of wires at my side of the bed.
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Tempted to give one of those £14 ones a try @TheSoupThief. So all i'd need to buy is a 3 pin plug USB charger? Does it have to 1A or 2A? Any recommendation? Power cables seems to be a minefield too..... some real horror stories.

I suppose I could use the one from my N7? I think thats rated at 1.3?
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I got a Nokia DT-900 from ebay for under £20, brand new and delivered.

It works flawlessly with the 2013 Nexus 7 but with my Nexus 4 if you leave it in day dream mode it sometimes ghost dials, put it too sleep completely and it works fine.
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The Soup Thief
Sep 06 2013 10:31 AM
My Nexus 4 seems to charge via "the puck" fairly well with the standard charger that came with the phone, though some people report that problem of it charging to 100% then gradually discharging (not topping back up). This happenned to mine once or twice but was fine mostly - I kind of put it down to me not positioning it correctly on the charger. Anyhoo, I saw reports that with a more powerful charger this problem didn't happen and I saw a 2A charger on Amazon for buttons (this is the one I have - less than 3 quid at the mo) so I bought that and it's been charging nicely since.
I've not had any difficulties with either my standard N4 cable, the (white) one that came with the puck or any other charger cable AFAIK, though someone suggested you're probably best not to use a crazy long cable as there's going to be some power loss. I just noticed, the postage from Amazon on that charger is nearly a fiver so if you're going to buy it best get it along with something else as an "Add on item" then it will be delivered free.
Occasionally (once or twice) I woke and the phone hadn't charged - I put this down to having misplaced it, so just blu-tacked the puck down in an idiot-proof spot as I've explained above. That done, when I get up in the morning now it's at 100% 100% of the time.
There remains the slightly annoying PowerManagerService.Wakelocks which crop up and sap a bit of juice in a pretty unpredictable way, but I'm still getting through a day with a good chunk o charge left
If you're interested there's another modaco thread here with an xda thread on this charger here - both threads are specific to the Nexus 4, but that's the only phone that matters, right? ;-)
@Zarch1972 - the charger and cable from your N7 should work fine I'd have thought. Devices are clever enough (within reason) to only take as much current as they need and my N4 certainly doesn't seem to feel the full benefit of the 2.1A (or whatever my charger is rated at)
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Cheers TST.

Not sure which way to go..... I do like the idea of picking up a cheap Nokia one as mentioned above.... they do look very nice. By the time i've spent £8 on a 2A charger and £15 for a puck I might have picked up a Nokia one for around the same (sounds more robust and reliable to me).

Not sure, will keep looking. :)
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has anyone tried these ones...

http://www.ebay.co.u...984.m1423.l2649
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The Soup Thief
Sep 07 2013 10:35 PM
These were linked to in an xda thread. They seem to be the same as the "puck" chargers discussed above, but with colour options and in prettier packaging.
Go for it, I'd say.
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  • has anyone tried these ones... http://www.ebay.co.u...984.m1423.l2649

  • Will be very interested to hear what these are like. Ie what they come with, how long they take to ship and are they any good?
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The Soup Thief
Sep 08 2013 08:44 PM
There's a bit of info about them on this thread http://forum.xda-dev...d.php?t=2426518
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I picked up one from ebay (http://www.ebay.com....984.m1439.l2649) for my N4 and it works a treat. It is on my desk at work and I know that after using the phone a bit during the day, I just drop it on the pad and let it charge. Charge rate is reasonable - not as quick as mains charging but much quicker than USB.

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glossywhite
Oct 23 2013 11:54 PM

What a gimmick - who needs this, seriously?

I'll stick with the good old fashioned micro USB chargers thanks, and forgo the "convenience" of this gimmicky nonsense, and be £££s better off for it. You can keep wireless charging and NFC - both are niche, neither are necessary. 

 

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glossywhite
Oct 24 2013 12:00 AM

It's dead handy just to chuck the phone on it when you get home - I have the puck blu-tacked in place beside the edge of my bedside cabinet. When the phone's up against the edge of the cabinet it's lined up in the sweet spot for charging. Easy.
No need to fanny about with plugging in wires or getting the connector the right way up. Well worth the few quid it set me back if only to keep MrsTheSoupThief from complaining so much about the rat's nest of wires at my side of the bed.

 

Yeah - I mean, plugging in wires eh - really shortens your day - PAH! So inconvenient and time consuming - plugging things in has caused SO much hassle for people for years.
 

...Not. :P

"Well worth the few quid it set me back if only to keep MrsTheSoupThief from complaining so much about the rat's nest of wires at my side of the bed."

Yes - I mean, may as well replace cheap, simple wires that cost £1 with a hulking great ugly lump of costly electronics instead - I mean, may as well add some more equipment to go wrong, eh! :D
 

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The Soup Thief
Oct 24 2013 12:26 PM

Ahh, glossywhite! How I've missed your measured comments and carefully considered opinions!

 

An analogy - indulge me a moment:

I used to have a kettle with a cord which plugged into it.  My current kettle looks more like this one

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTCM8-vQWXTT9KFjsPa-yB

This doesn't save me hours of time or radically improve my life but it is sufficiently more convenient and less fiddly that when it breaks I will again make the (some might say "reckless") decision to shell out a few more quid to buy a replacement like it rather than one with a cord.

Some people make a different decisions and buy ones with cords, that's absolutely fine with me.

See where I'm going with that?

 

Using my wireless charger with my phone makes sense to me.  I paid what for me was a very fair price for a very small device which makes it a bit less difficult for me to put my phone on charge at night without having to turn on the light and find the end of the charging cable then fiddle to get it in the socket the right way up, while at the same time reducing the amount of crap at my bedside.

 

One day, glossywhite, it would be great if you could at least pretend you're trying to come to terms with the fact that not everyone sees things exactly the way you do.  Also would be nice if you could notice that when you make snarky comments on the internet suggesting that because people don't agree with you, they must be wrong / stupid /etc, it comes across as a bit rude and tends to get people's backs up.  

 

Until then, perhaps you have some other over-valued opinions you'd like to share with the world?  If yes, why not skip over to xda and share these gems with them 

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glossywhite
Oct 24 2013 07:14 PM

Ahh, glossywhite! How I've missed your measured comments and carefully considered opinions!

 

An analogy - indulge me a moment:

I used to have a kettle with a cord which plugged into it.  My current kettle looks more like this one

 

This doesn't save me hours of time or radically improve my life but it is sufficiently more convenient and less fiddly that when it breaks I will again make the (some might say "reckless") decision to shell out a few more quid to buy a replacement like it rather than one with a cord.

Some people make a different decisions and buy ones with cords, that's absolutely fine with me.

See where I'm going with that?

 

Using my wireless charger with my phone makes sense to me.  I paid what for me was a very fair price for a very small device which makes it a bit less difficult for me to put my phone on charge at night without having to turn on the light and find the end of the charging cable then fiddle to get it in the socket the right way up, while at the same time reducing the amount of crap at my bedside.

 

One day, glossywhite, it would be great if you could at least pretend you're trying to come to terms with the fact that not everyone sees things exactly the way you do.  Also would be nice if you could notice that when you make snarky comments on the internet suggesting that because people don't agree with you, they must be wrong / stupid /etc, it comes across as a bit rude and tends to get people's backs up.  

 

Until then, perhaps you have some other over-valued opinions you'd like to share with the world?  If yes, why not skip over to xda and share these gems with them 

 

You took a comment about my genuine dislike of unncessary gimmicks, and twisted it into a personal attack? Wow - that's quite a feat. It shows I'm far more memorable than I thought - I didn't expect you to have remembered me - I don't even know you or recall who you are, with respect.

If you don't like my opinions, then why are you paying me attention by replying? Seems a little contradictory. You like this wireless stuff - GREAT! :D do you need to validate yourself with a snyde reply? Nope - you're just as entitled to free opinion as much as we all are - take it easy - it was not personal I promise you.

Enjoy your night. 

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