Review – Wireless Portable Charger Plus
The third in my series of device reviews from Mobile Solar Chargers (MSC) is a portable wireless charger. The “Wireless portable charger plus” to be precise. If you have a Qi enabled device and want to charge up when away from a socket this 5,450 mAh charger is a compelling option.
Earlier this year, I had never heard of a wireless (Qi) charging pad with a built-in battery. I got thinking that such a thing would be very cool and started searching eBay for the typical set of electronic curiosities that are exported from Hong Kong. What I found was the charging pad I’m talking about today from MSC’s eBay store.
MSC actually sell three wireless charging pads. The one I’m reviewing in this post has no power-out ports, just a Micro USB input for charging its internal 5,450 mAh battery. Additionally, there is a 4,800 mAh portable charger with a wireless charging pad and a USB output port that costs £30. Then there is a mains-powered pad for £25.
As described, the pad in this review only charges Qi enabled devices, it has no USB output, but it has the largest of the two capacities available. That means it’s a very featureless device to look at. On first impressions one could be forgiven for not being able to guess its purpose; which is exactly what I’d like to see from future tech!
The base of the device has a rubber ring to keep the device stationary on a table. The base also features a button, which when pressed illuminates the charge indicators on the end of the device. There are four blue LEDs for charge level, a green LED to say that it is charging, and a red LED to let you know that the device is charging from its USB input.
The charger is encased in glossy white plastic which makes it look modern and stylish. However, this also means that it’s possible for some devices to slip out of place. Alignment is the enemy wireless charging, so this lack of stability between charger and device is sometimes a problem. It really depends on your device. For example, the Nexus 4 has a perfectly smooth glass back and can even seem to slide off horizontal surfaces. Whereas something like a Nexus 5 or the charging jackets that can be added to numerous phones will have much more friction and will stay in place.
The charger is supplied with a one inch diameter sticky rubber pad in an attempt to cure the slippage problem. This is a reasonable engineering solution. However, it ruins the look of the device, and it wouldn’t last very long as it would pick up dust and bits from everywhere and quickly lose its sticking power.
The charger beeps once when starts charging. This is a nice touch as there are no physical guides for getting the alignment right. So having an audible alert saves having to dip your head down to look at the LED indicators.
Of course, a wireless charger won’t charge your device while in a pocket or bag, so this gadget is restricted to desktop usage. The type of scenario I imagine this would be used in is if your desk at work or coffee table at home don’t have a mains socket nearby, you can simply set this power bank down and lay Qi compatible devices on top of it to charge.
It is possible to simultaneously refill the charging pad from the mains while it wirelessly charges a device laid atop of it. However, I sometimes found that having the power bank simultaneously discharging and recharging would cause the wireless charging link to intermittently drop out. That meant that the charging beep would regularly be heard every time it reconnected to the device. Since I imagine this may be affected the combination of hardware in use, your mileage may vary.
At the 2013 Nokia World, Nokia announced the DC-50, which does exactly the same as MSC’s portable wireless charger. However that device will probably cost around £60 with a capacity of 2,400 mAh. Meanwhile, MSC’s solution has been available for quite a while, and will give you 5,450 mAh for a mere £30. No contest.
I have loved showing off this device in coffee shops and at my co-working space, and I’ve loved the convenience of it.
One more thing…
If you have a device that doesn’t have Qi charging – e.g. the Samsung Galaxy range or an iPhone, there are ways to get around this. MSC sell a charging coil for £15 that can be added to Samsung Galaxy phones, and a £20 Qi charging jacket for the iPhone 5. I’ve been testing the latter with my iPhone, and it actually is a very comfortable case to hold. It softens the edges on the iPhone without adding too much bulk.