Powermat Wireless Charging System for Motorola Droid X and iPhone 4 Review

We reviewed the original Powermat Wireless Charging System and thought it was an interesting product, but weren’t sure if it was something we’d use every day due to the bulk it added via required cases for our gadgets. It’s been over a year since that review, let’s see if thinner cases make the Powermat induction charging system a must have accessory.

Powermat offers wireless charging solutions for a wide variety of gadgets, but for this review, we’re focusing on the Motorola Droid X and the Apple iPhone 4.

Powermat Wireless Charging System for the Motorola Droid X

Package Contents

Powermat wireless charging mat
Powermat receiver door
AC Adapter
Owner’s Manual

To give the Droid X the capability of wireless charging with the Powermat, you just have to swap the original battery cover door with the one included in the Powermat package. As you can see, the Powermat battery cover (AKA receiver) looks relatively similar to the stock cover. At least in shape and color.

The secret to this special cover is the built in microUSB connector.

Take off the stock cover, snap on the Powermat cover and then plug the microUSB connector into the slot in the phone and in the cover. The picture above make the cover look a lot thicker than it really seems in real life. I can’t really feel the difference while the phone is in my hand.

So for the most part, the Droid X still looks like a Droid X sans the Motorola logo and the addition of the USB connector ‘bump’ on the side. I was worried that the bump would feel awkward when holding the phone. I notice that it’s there, but it’s not a big deal.

One obvious problem with using this charging system with the Droid X (and other devices) is that you won’t be able to use your favorite form fitting case. However, that was not a problem for me since I don’t use a case with my Droid X.

To use the wireless charging system, you just install the battery cover, plug in the Powermat with the included AC adapter and then set the Droid X on the mat.

When you set the device on the mat, you can feel a magnetic attraction, which is kind of cool. What’s even better is that the mat will emit a funky little sci-fi like tone to let you know that handshaking between the mat and receiver were successful and charging is taking place. You might be wondering if you have to be precise in the way you place the phone on the mat. Nope, that’s not necessary. As long as you pretty much center it, it seems to work just fine.

There’s also a visual indicator. The mat has a White LED on the front two corners that light up while the phone is charging. When the battery is at 100%, the LEDs turn off.

Let’s look at a similar solution for the iPhone 4.

Powermat Wireless Charging System for the Apple iPhone 4

Package Contents

Powermat wireless charging mat
iPhone 4 case
AC Adapter
Owner’s Manual

As you can see, the receiver case for the iPhone 4 is a bit more noticeable than the one for the Droid X. It’s made of Black plastic, so it blends in very well with the iPhone, but does give the phone several negative sexy points.

The back of the case is plain except for the Powermat logo and cutout for the camera lens. By the way, the logo on this case and the Droid X battery cover is not the charging point for the Powermat. I tested this by putting a piece of tape over it and charging still took place.

The top of the case can flip open so you can easily slide the phone in and out of the case.

Cutouts for the mute and volume buttons. The only annoying thing I noticed is that the edges of seam in the flip top feel sharp on your thumb tip when you’re trying to activate one of the buttons.

Top view.

The bottom of the case has cutouts for the speakers and it also has a microUSB connector. What’s that for? Well, you won’t have to remove the case in order to sync with your computer. Just plug in the included USB cable and you’re good to go. One added benefit is that you can also charge via that USB connection.

Just like the Droid X charging system, when you place the iPhone 4 on the Powermat, it will make a cute little spacey noise, a White LED will light up on the base and your phone will start charging. Unlike the Droid X system, the Powermat for the iPhone 4 is not magnetic.

Both charging systems worked great and seemed to charge as fast as using a normal AC adapter.

Of the two systems, I like the one for the Droid X best because it doesn’t change the look of the phone as much. I wish something could be done to get rid of the little USB bump though…

A lot of people will complain and say that the Powermat Wireless Charging System isn’t wireless at all due to the fact that you still have to plug in an AC adapter into a wall outlet and into the Powermat. This is true… And it could be considered really lazy to pay $60 just for the privilege of not having to fit a small connector into your phone every time you want to charge it. Of course one person’s ‘lazy’ is another person’s ‘nifty’. At this point, I’m still on the fence about the Powermat system. The bump on the side of my Droid X doesn’t really bother me, but having to leave an AC adapter in the wall does. I would rather it pull power from a USB port on my desktop computer. Not sure if that really makes a difference in my carbon footprint, but that’s just me. Regardless, the Powermat Wireless Charging System works as advertised and is a nice improvement over their first generation offerings. I’ve enjoyed using it and can definitely see a future for these types of chargers.

What do you think? Would you use a charging system like this one?

 

Product Information

Price:$59.99
Manufacturer:Powermat
Pros:
  • Convenience of not having to plug in a charging cable
Cons:
  • Additional bulk
  • Can't use with your favorite case
  • Uses an AC adapter, wall outlet
Posted in: Android related, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Reviews

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • BJN January 27, 2011, 7:10 pm

    Meh. My Droid X is big enough without adding an induction coil and blivit to the USB port. What strikes me as especially lame about these dedicated induction charging pads is that they’re dedicated to one device. I might be able to talk myself into the convenience value if I could place several devices on one pad (like they show in their bleeping commercial). As to carbon footprint, whatever the extra parasitic power this charger uses, I’m happy to save all the carbon that it takes to mine, manufacture, package and distribute trivia like this by not buying it.

  • Julie January 27, 2011, 7:48 pm

    @BJN Powermat offers larger mats that can accommodate multiple devices.

  • Donald Schoengold January 27, 2011, 11:55 pm

    I have a desktop charger for my Droid. You just drop the Droid into the charger and it makes a connection with the USB port. I guess that you are “plugging it in” but the operation of plugging and unplugging is seamless.

    Best part is that it cost less than have of what this costs.

  • kendon81 January 30, 2011, 7:07 pm

    @Donald Schoengold i see your point, but this technology is just in its infancy and is kinda a novelty at the moment, but it wot be long until the wireless charging tech gets small and compact enough to be incorporated into all electronic devices and into home and office eliminating power outlets

  • FDR February 3, 2011, 8:56 pm

    At $60, this strikes me as a nearly grotesque kludge. The only possible value would be in hoped-for awe and admiration from your less tech-savvy friends.

    But the right price could change my perception. At $30-$40, I could (maybe) see this as a handy appliance. Sure, I can’t leave my favorite hardshell case on my phone, but the ease of plopping it onto the charge mat – no more fiddling with that weeny micro plug, which I know will eventually get yanked clean off the cord, purely by accident of course – is a fair trade-off.

    Still, you have to wonder why they didn’t go with an integrated case design for the Droid X, as they have for the iPhone. Why leave such a delicately-wired plug jutting out from one side? After all the work they did in designing a cool replacement battery cover, that oddly situated plug ruins the aesthetic.

  • Debbie February 28, 2011, 11:48 pm

    The advantage to the powermat is that you don’t have the end of the power cord coming apart after a few uses where it plus into the phone. The plastic broke on the last two I purchased. I just switched to the Powermat for my 3G.

  • Eric March 31, 2011, 1:35 am

    Palm was the only one to get it right. Other manufacturers should look at the touchstone. I have one on the nightstand by the bed and one in the car. When I put it on the nightstand it turns into an alarm clock.

  • Paul July 26, 2012, 2:16 pm

    I’m looking into the powermat for my truck. I can easily plug my phone in at home…but being able to just set my phone on my console and have it charge would be awesome. My phone uses a lot of power via the Bluetooth in my truck. However I would also want the mat somewhat hidden and no cords showing so I’m not sure that is all possible.

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