iPhone 4 Powermat Review: Wireless or hopeless?

iPhone 4 Powermat Review: Wireless or hopeless?

Wireless charging is something of a futuristic idea... think of your device magically being charged without having to plug it in or stick it in a docking station. You can bet that's how Tom Cruise rolls in Minority Report. While the Powermat isn't truly wireless (in that you have to physically set it on a mat), it is reaching towards that futuristic ideal.

With the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Skype and email, not to mention the drain of gaming, charging your Smartphone is something of a daily ritual, and a definite necessity.  Over on the Mobot phone forums, we regularly get threads with people complaining about the shortness of the battery life in their new Smartphones, and that they've got to charge them at least once a day, if not more often.

I recently got a Powermat for my iPhone 4. The Powermat is a wireless charging system and it can be used with many electronic devices. It's compatible with certain iPhones, select Blackberrys, some iPods, and Nintendo DS & DSis. If you want to charge other gear, you need to use a Powermat powercube, which attaches via USB, so isn't quite the same as the wireless charging on those main devices.

To use the Powermat wireless charging system, you need a both a Powermat and a case for your electronic device. Sometimes these are sold in a bundle as for the iPhone 4, or they may be sold separately. It's a bit of a bugger to be honest, because my other half has a HTC Desire HD, which doesn't seem to be supported by a specific Powermat receiver. If it was supported with a specific case, I would consider buying the home and office mat mentioned above, as it would mean less clutter of wires in our home office.

I will admit that charging the phone has been a pleasure, if you can say such a thing about a mundane activity! As I walk through the kitchen in the evening, I fire the iPhone 4 into the cradle and just walk away. It fits snugly, I don't have any fiddly positioning to do, and the charging starts with ease. The only annoying bit is the strange beep when you insert or remove the phone from the cradle, which cannot be disabled. I can imagine that this beeping would be pretty annoying if you are one of those people who puts their phone on and off charge throughout the day.

The main bugbear with the iPhone 4 Powermat is the case. Because the iPhone 4 has to be in the Powermat case in order to charge it, I don't really see the point in taking it in and out of the case with each use. I might as well just go and plug it in to the wall charger, as that takes less time. So I've resolved to keeping the iPhone 4 in the Powermat case at all times, and have had it on there for about a month now. It's a plain black case, and doesn't really do anything for the style of the phone. The iPhone 4 is lovely and slim, and sometimes you just want to show it off - the case doesn't help in this regard.

Price-wise, if you're buying Powermats for one device (like the iPhone 4), you get the mat and case in the bundle for around £35. There are other types of Powermats which can charge multiple devices though - this is the other style. The main drawback here is that you've then got to buy a separate Powermat receiver for each of the devices you want to charge.

If you want to buy a Powermat, do a quick search for the Powermat on Amazon, they have quite a lot of the various mats and cases there.

The Powermat is an innovative product, but I think we're seeing things in a very early iteration. Maybe someday our Smartphones will charge wirelessly when sitting on the dashboard of our flying cars, or simply start charging in our pockets when we walk into our home. THAT will be truly wireless charging.

Read more about: Apple iPhone 4

Add a comment

JanSt / MOD  Aug. 5, 2011 at 18:45

No kidding, eh?
It's not wireless. When Palm came up with this for the touchstone, I knew we had all gone down a few notches on the IQ ladder... it's induction. 'ello, earth... induction cookers have been around for *****in decades. Instead of the phone, you plug in the mat or the stone.
Wireless is what Nokia and - you can bet - DARPA are trying to achieve: use either soundwaves or ambient EMR to charge a decive.
Rantrantrant.. I'm done. :p

blizzard7  Aug. 5, 2011 at 22:46

Does that mean I can charge an iPhone 4 with an electric toothbrush charger then?

JanSt / MOD  Aug. 6, 2011 at 06:56

Ahem... If it's an Apple toothbrush, and if it's wireless :p

Good review otherwise (forgot to say that in my rantery)


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