Home All Review: Powermat – Wireless iPhone 4 charging system

Review: Powermat – Wireless iPhone 4 charging system

We looked at the Powermat range of wireless charging systems last week, and they have kindly sent us an iPhone4 Wireless Charging System to try out.

The iPhone4 pack contains a case that slides onto the iPhone, a charging mat with power adapter, and a micro USB lead.

The system is incredibly easy to use, you simply plug the Powermat in and place it somewhere convenient to charge your phone. Then slide the iPhone4 into its case, which is very slim and adds very little to the width or depth of the iPhone4 and just enough at the bottom to allow for the connector. The case snaps shut at the top holding the iPhone4 securely in place – and there are cut-outs for the volume and silent buttons on the side, power and headphones on the top, and the camera and flash on the rear. The case also has special ‘vents’ so the speakers on the bottom of the iPhone4 are not restricted, and audio comes through with no noticeable difference. That’s it, you’re done!

Now, to charge the phone, simply place it on the Powermat, you’ll receive an audible tone from the mat that the device is connected and charging, a small white light will come on, and of course the iPhone will light up to indicate it’s charging.

iTunes

Of course, wire-free is all well and good, but what if you need to sync your iPhone with iTunes? Powermat have thought of that, at the bottom of the case is a MicroUSB connector – use the supplied lead to connect the case to your computer and hey presto, the iPhone is recognised and iTunes pops up to sync – a really nice touch meaning you don’t even have to remove the case to sync your new music.

Application

The Powermat is convenient for someone like me, its a time saver. But there’s a group of people this technology can bring serious benefits to – those with disabilities.

Many people with partial sight use the iPhone, ergonomically its easy to unlock, and activating the voice command (long press on the home key) so they can make calls is relatively easy. But finding the charging lead and plugging it in can be a struggle, how much easier for them to simply drop it on its charging plate, hear the connected chirp and leave it safe in the knowledge that it’s charging.

My wife works with young adults with learning disabilities – this often comes with restricted co-ordination and reduced hand dexterity. Many of them have touchscreen phones because they are easier to use then ones with tiny buttons, and again many of them struggle to charge their device because picking up the charging lead and plugging it in can be very challenging. And its not just the physical difficulties that are made easier, the mental process involved in finding the right lead, holding it the right way and putting it in the right connector can be too much for many of these adolescents. Again, with a Powermat these problems are eliminated – just drop the phone on the charging mat and walk away.

I see great potential for this product, and at the moment its biggest limitation is the range of products it covers – currently the iPhone 3G/3GS/4 – Blackberry Bold and Curve and the Nintendo DS. You can extend this slightly with the PowerCube Receiver that brings tips for more devices, but this is not the integrated solution that the core products offer. I’d like to see backplates for Android and Nokia phones to really open the range up, and hopefully these will be available soon.

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