Published on October 26th, 2012 | by Greg0
Duracell PowerMat: 24 Hour iPhone Power Solution
The promise of induction charging is simple: wireless power. If that sounds crazy, then you haven't attended CES the past few years and seen the growth in the category. Granted, we're still in the infant phase, where no major devices have the technology built-in, and the range is very, very limited. These are still contact-based solutions; it will definitely be a bit before you're able to draw juice for your batteries through the air magically. But our prediction: it will happen, eventually, since batteries are wasteful, heavy, and inefficient.
One small step on the path: the Duracell PowerMat iPhone 4/4S 24 Hour Power System. Yes, some of us here have switched to the iPhone 5, and word is that a compatible version will be coming soon (as will a model for the Samsung Galaxy S3). This is a small, cute system, available in black or white (ours was white, prone to showing fingerprints a bit more) and each has some classy metallic accents. The basic idea: lay it flat on your bedside table, throw the included case on your phone, and then never have to fumble with a plug- just lay your phone on the PowerMat and let it charge away. We've seen similar systems- earlier models have been around for a couple of years now- but this is the best contender so far. Small enough to be portable, with cleaner design, it's a solid package.
This model comes not only with the required charging pad and iPhone case, but also with a fairly small and durable backup battery, for those who find themselves drained of battery life before the day is done. If your phone is like ours, battery life isn't quite what it used to be, and we regularly find our smartphone down below the dangerous 20% mark by the afternoon. With the backup battery safely stowed in a purse or pocket, we can be assured of never having to miss an Instagram moment or text message or important call- as long as we keep the backup battery charged of course. It can sit next to your phone on the charging pad and both devices can get topped up simultaneously. It's not quite as fast as plugging in to the wall, though, and remember that the system requires some alignment- you can't just drop the phone or battery anywhere, but need to ensure that there is magnetic contact with certain points.
Quick note on the battery- it's rated at 1850 mAh- pretty impressive for it's size and weight, and it's not only for Apple products. Much like the myCharge line, there is also a flip-out Micro USB connector in addition to the Apple 30-pin adapter, which seemed like a nice surprise! You may be wondering why- and it's a fair question. The answer involves the custom case.
For any induction product, you'll have to use a special case, which is the only major downside. These proprietary cases don't offer much protection, and usually aren't nearly as nice as, say, an OtterBox. If you like your case- or don't like having one- then this will be an awkward fit at best. The case included here is decent, but nothing that you'd choose unless you had to. What's unusual about this one is that the 30-pin port on your iPhone 4/4S will be blocked- and instead converted to a Micro USB slot! It's pretty unusual, and means that you can't use any of your other Apple-type docks or plugs or adapters.
All in all, it's a step in the right direction for induction charging systems. There are still downsides- until manufacturers start building the technology into devices, you'll continue to need special cases. But it looks better, and feels nicer, than previous models. Small enough to be portable, the Duracell PowerMat 24 Hour Power System is available now online and in stores for just under $100.