We've been talking for wireless charging often lately
, as it's becoming increasingly common
in flagship mobile devices. Not only that, but it's also the sole way to power up an Android Wear smart-watch
. One of the biggest disputes, echoing since the technology was brought to consumers, is... how useful it really is. Truth is, wireless charging sounds a lot less impressive when you find out that chargers are still tethered to the nearest available USB port or wall outlet via cable.
But what if we could eliminate the cable part somehow? Does the prospect of having a portable power bank that charges your device without occupying any microUSB ports sound more appealing? Untethered, you have the freedom of leaving the charging plate wherever you please, dropping your phone on it and picking it up when you need to use it without much thought – as long as you remember to keep the power bank powered up.
Sadly, unhinged wireless chargers are still a bit exotic. We only found four commercially available ones, and one that's now growing out of its Kickstarter-stage. But if a wireless, portable, Qi-compliant power bank interests you, be our guest and check them out.
5 portable wireless chargers
5 portable wireless chargers
Not only was Nokia the first prolific handset manufacturer to bet on wireless charging with the Lumia 920, but its portable Qi charger is a great example of this type of product. It has the Finns' colorful attitude; it charges itself through microUSB and through other wireless chargers; it's very portable at 5.3 ounces (150 grams); Just put your phone on it and let the charging commence. Like regular chargers, the DC-50 has LED indicators to show you how much juice it has left in it.
The downside? This thing costs $100! How about a little discount, Nokia?
The Kickstarter-backed ARK might very well become the be-all, end-all of portable wireless chargers. It offers a clean, minimalistic build - it basically looks like a Mac Mini. It's built of rigid plastic with anti-scratch coating, keeping a weight of 5.99 ounces (170 grams). The five LEDs inform you about the charger's battery level. And the icing on the cake - a second, full-sized USB port lets you charge two devices at the same - one wireless, one wired.
And one more thing. The ARK has a processor that turns the charger after a few seconds of none-usage to spare battery life. It also detects the charging status of both the charged device and the internal battery, deciding whether to charge both batteries, or only the phone (when it's plugged in). The charger holds enough energy to charge an iPhone from zero to max three times.
We're not sure when the ARK charger will appear, or what the end price will be. But the product is already funded, and looks promising enough to warrant the excitement.
Touting a name that sounds like a German cannon, the N11 has your portable wireless charging needs covered with a perfectly palatable brick design, a hearty 4800mAh battery capacity, and enough LEDs to light up a Christmas tree. The N11 supports both regular USB and Qi wireless charging, so all your usage scenarios are covered. The $70 price is a tad on the heavier side of things, but this is the wireless charger status quo - they are niche products sought from a small, but growing user-base. The prices will fall eventually, but until then, that's what we got.
This one is another well-rounded, mighty fine looking charger to consider - especially if you're based in Europe and the price of 70 EUR ($136) is one you can stomach. The ZENS Power Bank charges all Qi-compliant devices, and it too has a type-A USB port to charge a second device the old-fashioned way. 4500mAh capacity is good, although it could have been bigger. But if that's what it takes to achieve such nice looks and example portability, then so be it.
Sony has always had nice portable chargers to offer, and the CP-W5 is a fine addition. However, it is almost as big as any Xperia flagship phone, and it has the weight to match - 6.6 ounces (188 grams)! All that for a 5000mAh battery capacity, typical Sony rectangle design, and the ability to power devices through USB and Qi charging. Sadly, it cannot do both at the same time. But overall, Sony did a good job with this charger. The price is $70.