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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.
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