My first experience of wireless phone charging was over ten years ago in 2009 with the Palm Pre and its Touchstone charger, which doubled up as a desk stand, tilting the phone at just the right angle. After the annoyances of multiple charger connectors, the simplicity of wireless charging was a revelation, even though Palm’s implementation had a few quirks. Wireless charging and the Touchstones were a feature of the Palm line-up right up until HP threw it all in the bin in 2011.
Joining Google’s Nexus series, my next phone with wireless charging was the Nexus 4 in 2013, which really was a beautiful device with an amazing glass back that shimmered in the light…it was lovely. On the Nexus 4, the wireless charging conformed to the Qi standard which was already looking to be the frontrunner in the wireless charging wars. To keep the Nexus 4 charged, I bought a Zens wireless charger and was sent a Mugenizer N11 wireless charging battery pack to review. The old reviews are still up on GNC for your enjoyment. Both chargers supported the Qi standard by Wireless Power Consortium. Apparently Qi is pronounced “chee” and comes from the Chinese word that translatesas “air” and figuratively as “material energy”, “life force”, or “energy flow” (Wikipedia).
Sadly, after three affordable Nexus devices, Google went all up market with the Nexus 5 and I jumped ship to OnePlus who had this strange invite-only sales strategy for their new One smartphone, but, hey, it worked.
I’ve been a OnePlus owner ever since then, but I’ve had to wait over five years for OnePlus to build wireless charging into the new 8 Pro. Being OnePlus, the 8 Pro has its own fast charging standard, but it still supports the underlying Qi standard. As a result, and somewhat amazingly, the Qi chargers from 2013 for the Nexus 4 still work.. Yes, their power output of 5 W is significantly less than the 30 W the OnePlus can take, but if I’m dropping the 8 Pro on the Zens pad for an overnight charge it doesn’t really matter.
Too often technology becomes obsolete in a few years so it’s encouraging to see that wireless chargers from six or seven years ago still work, and all credit should go to the Wireless Power Consortium and the Qi standard.
Although I was disappointed by the Nokia DT-900, I wasn’t ready to give up on wireless charging nirvana for my Nexus 4. With a bit of searching and review-reading, I plumped for a Zens Universal Qi Single Wireless Charging Plate which garners 4.5 stars on Amazon. Although unknown to me, Zens is a young Dutch company specialising in wireless charging products, and from first appearances, it looks like they’re doing a good job.
The Zens charging plate comes in a well-presented package but is surprisingly small. It’s bigger than the DT-900 but it’s still not large and I imagine that most large screen smartphones will overhang on one side or another. However, the extra size and the rubber covering mean that most smartphones will sit comfortably on the pad. As with the DT-900, it has a DC power supply – no USB charging here, either.
In use, the Zens charging plate is far better with the Nexus 4 than the DT-900. In most instances, simply placing the the Nexus onto the pad started charging and usually, I’d get a high rate of charge without any precise positioning. With a bit of practice, I was able to get a sweetspot that worked every time and an LED on the right side of the plate turns green when the pad starts charging.
The screenshot below shows the charging rate when everything is perfectly aligned and honestly, it’s not far off the rate when the Nexus is plugged in.
The plate also has a feature that when the phone is fully charged, the charging turns off until the the battery levels falls to about 93%. Here’s what it looks like in Battery+.
In my opinion, the Zens charging plate knocks the DT-900 into a cocked hat, especially if you have a Nexus 4. Both are priced a little under £45 here in the UK, though the Zens charger seems quite pricey in the US at $100 (Amazon). Update – have since discovered the Zens charger on other websites for a far more reasonable $50. Recommended for all UK Nexus 4 owners.
Being an ex-Palm afficionado, I’m a massive fan of wireless charging. The convenience of simply placing a Pre onto a Touchstone to charge is unparalleled and I still use wireless charging with my Cyanogen-modded Touchpad.
Today, the Pre series is history thanks to HP, but wireless charging is still around with Samsung, LG and Nokia all supporting the Qi standard. My current phone is a Nexus 4 but the official orb charger is a small fortune here in the UK, so it was with interest that I saw that the prices of the Nokia DT-900 charging pad were gradually falling. Last week, I finally succumbed and bought one.
First impressions are mixed. The DT-900 seems reasonably well-made with a single white LED at the front to indicate the status of the charging. Unfortunately, the DT-900 comes with a somewhat chunky power supply which connects via a cable with DC jacks at each end. It would be far more sensible and useful if it used micro-USB connectors. And who thought that a white PSU with a black pad was good idea?
But on to the wireless charging….
Reports from elsewhere on the web suggest that the Nexus 4 and the DT-900 should work together but my experience was somewhat mixed. The main issue is that positioning the Nexus on the plate is crucial for the charging to ‘lock on’. Incorrect alignment causes the plate’s LED to flash and the phone will continually stop and start charging.
I tried a wide variety of positions, but even when I managed to get everything lined up, charging was poor, as you can see from the attached screenshots from Battery+.
Best results were from putting the Nexus 4 on the pad such that about a quarter to a half inch of the pad is visible at the bottom, but even then the battery charge level seemed to hit a plateau at around 80%
Overall, it was disappointing and the DT-900 will going on ebay very shortly. One might have though that in the four years since the Palm Pre came out that wireless charging would have been perfected. Regrettably, if the DT-900 is anything to go by, it has a long way to go to even match what Palm offered. YMMV.
Wireless charging has become a big deal lately. Being able to carry chargers around with us is a necessity in today’s battery hogging world of smartphones.
One company that is working on this task is Kirk H & J. A representative from the company stopped by TPN in Las Vegas to show off some products to Andy and Don. The chargers are super thing and come in different designs and colors. The devices do not use the expected induction, but instead rely on a proprietary method. The chargers are available for both iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.
To get a full explanation of how all of this works and even more details, including a prototype mobile version, you can check out the video posted below.
Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor
Are you tired of all of the messy wires associated with charging all of your mobile devices. WildCharge has a solution that is beyond unique and the first charging system that looks like a engineer was actually used to figure out how to really make a wireless charging system work. Check out the demo you will want one.
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