REVIEW – The STM in the name STM Goods stands for Smarter Than Most. The ChargeTree is their latest product, a smart wireless charger specifically aimed at your Apple products. I am a big fan of doing more and doing it more efficiently, so being able to charge 3 devices on one unit appeals to my inner geek. So, without ado being furthered in any way, let’s see if the ChargeTree really is smarter than most…
What is it?
STM’s ChargeTree is a wireless charging stand designed to simultaneously charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods.
What’s in the box?
- The ChargeTree stand
- A USB-A to USB-C cable, about 3 feet long
How does it work?
Simple: remove the ChargeTree and cable from the box. Plug the USB-C end of the cable into the ChargeTree. Now go and find a power adapter that handles USB-A and will provide enough voltage to simultaneously charge three devices.
Cue the record scratching sound.
The ChargeTree does not come with a power adapter – you have to supply one of your own. And if you don’t want to charge your devices in the most painfully slow way possible, don’t plan on using your Apple charger on this one. You’re going to need a power adapter that supplies between 36 and 60 watts. That usually means an adapter from someone like Aukey (like one of the units reviewed here), and that means you are probably going to need a new USB-C to USB-C cable as well.
Now that you have purchased the right power solution, plug the cable into the back of the ChargeTree. By the way, the holes in the back are for the fan – more on that in a minute. Place your devices on the appropriate charging pads.
Your phone rests on the front of the ChargeTree. Your AirPods (regular or pro) in a wireless charging case sits on a pad at the back of the ChargeTree. Your Apple Watch (any version) rests on the top.
The front and back charging pads are Qi-certified, so they work with pretty much any wireless-capable device (like the Samsung Note 10 and Galaxy Buds+ in the picture). The watch pad is not QI-certified, though, and only works with an Apple Watch. The ledge that the phone rests on has lights that let you know when each pad is charging – the left one shows the watch, middle the phone and right for the AirPods.
So how well does it charge?
Using an 18 watt Apple power supply and charging my iPhone X with an Apple Watch 3 and AirPods, it took an amazingly painful 12.5 hours to charge all three from 0 to 100%. Many times during this eternity the fan on the ChargeTree took off, and by “take off” I mean imitated the sound of a 747 attempting to free itself from the ground. The phone and the AirPods were pretty warm after this. I did not notice any device finish first – after 12.5 hours, all three lights went off and the phone reported 100%. By the way, this is the charger that STM says is the one to use (in small print inside the box).
Lesson learned. Using an Aukey 60 watt charger and a USB-C to C cable, I tried this again a few days later. Much better results this time. Once again, 0 to 100%. The ChargeTree appeared to use the fast charge mode because the phone was fully charged in about 2 hours and 55 minutes (I don’t know that for sure, though – there is no manual and I can’t find tech specs anywhere on the web). The watch light went out first (at about 2 hours) and the AirPods followed closely (about 2 hours and 8 minutes), with the phone coming in third place, as expected. I did not hear the fan at all on this run – it was quiet and efficient. And the devices had the normal “warmth” associated with wireless charging coming off the charging pads.
At $79.95, though, it isn’t a great buy. Considering that you have to buy a power adapter that will adequately supply power (like the Aukey 60 watt at about $40) and a cable to replace the one that comes with the ChargeTree (say another $3). the final price for this efficiency is $123. It seems odd that STM did not include a sufficient power adapter in the box – nor does the packaging or marketing content on Amazon or their site note that you need one. You only learn this when you open the box, and even that is an ironic experience because there is very clearly a mold on the back of the packaging below where the cable is stored that indicates a power adapter could have been included.
What I liked
- When set up properly, this works really well
What I’d change
- POWER ADAPTER (or at least tell your potential customers they will need one – there is a note inside the box, but you won’t see that until it gets delivered)
- Include any sort of manual that also includes the tech specs (it would be nice to know if the phone pad is a 5 watt or 7.5 watt charger)
If you get everything right, this is a great charger. Problem is unless you read a review like this you might not know what you are getting yourself into. Using the suggested power adapter could possibly lead to heat damage over time – either for your devices or for the ChargeTree itself. As it is delivered today, this feels like a half-baked solution – a great idea but executed poorly. And there is a very clear path to get fully baked. In the end, design-wise it is Smarter Than Most, but execution not so much.