Powermat has released its latest wireless charging solution for the iPhone 3G and 3GS. The slim mat does away with the need for charging leads to get tangled up.The original Powermat was able to charge a number of different devices, using replacement battery covers that allowed for wireless charging when put on the mat.
The latest development is a cheaper solution (suggested retail price £39.99) geared for one phone; the iPhone 3G or the 3GS. Due to the fact that Apple doesn’t have a removable battery or casing, Powermat has solved the problem by incorporating its charging technology in a casing – protecting the phone at the same time. The casing protrudes slightly at the front, to keep the screen protected from scratches when put face down, but you may still want to invest in a separate screen protector – as there is nothing supplied in the pack.
There is a slight bulge on the back, to incorporate the charging technology, although the designers have done a good job of ensuring it looks like part of the case design when being used as a phone.
The mat itself has a slight indentation to ensure you place the phone in the right position. When you do so, two white LED lights illuminate on the front corners to give confirmation that charging is in operation, along with and an audible sound (escalating pitch for charging, de-escalating for when the phone is removed and charging stops).
It really couldn’t be much easier to use. Doing away with wires and placing the mat in a good position should mean you can charge your iPhone constantly by getting into the habit of placing the phone on the charger instead of loose on a desk.
Another benefit of having this casing is the use of a micro-USB socket to connect your iPhone to a PC or Mac instead of using the Apple dock cable. Given micro-USB is now the recognised standard for charging and syncing all mobile devices (sadly, Apple has to date not stated its intention to switch over), you will almost certainly have a collection of chargers and USB cables that have this standardised connector. Even if you haven’t yet got anything that uses micro-USB, don’t worry as there’s a USB to micro-USB lead supplied in the box.
Should you need to connect an Apple lead or accessory, you will have to remove the case. This is in fact the only downside of the Powermat wireless charging solution. If you want to place the phone in a docking station, like a home speaker system with iPhone connector, you’ll have to remove the casing. This would almost certainly become a bit of a chore if done repeatedly, although the same problem exists with many other wraparound cases, especially those with secondary batteries.
The ability to keep the phone charged whenever it is not in use – doing away with any chance of forgetting to connect the power lead – is too good a feature to ignore. With its lower price (sub-£40), it’s not too much of an expensive luxury. Indeed, it could be the best iPhone accessory you ever buy.
Rating (out of 5): 4
The best possible way to charge your phone, although the lack of an Apple connector may force you to remove the casing to use with other accessories.
iPhone 4 version:
A version for the iPhone 4 is currently in development, although there is no confirmed release date or price at the current time.