KoolPuck Lets You Charge Your iPhone Wirelessly [Review]

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KoolPuck Wireless Charger by FoneSalesman
Category: Charger
Works With: iPhone 5 and up, 5th generation iPod Touch
Price: £26.99 ($45.05)

Steve Jobs famously argued that if five million people used the Mac, cutting its boot time down by 10 seconds would save the equivalent of at least 100 lifetimes per year.

Taken on an individual basis, it’s difficult to know how many minutes of your life will be saved by using the KoolPuck Wireless Charger — but it’s almost certainly less than an hour over the lifespan of your typical iPhone.

That doesn’t really matter, though. In an age of convenience, the idea that you can charge your iPhone by simply placing it down on a massively wireless charger is a tempting one. Straightforward, attractive, and tiny, FoneSalesman’s iQi solution seems to tick all the boxes.

So how does it measure up?

What It Is

A wireless charging puck, used in conjunction with the iQi (pronounced i-Chi) ultra-thin ribbon charger, which connects to your iPhone 5 and above (or fifth generation iPod Touch). The KoolPuck wireless charger comes with the charging plate, micro USB cable, and user’s manual. iQi is supplied separately.

Thergeg

The charging pad is small, but holds your iPhone surprisingly firmly.

The Good

In one sense, the KoolPuck works very well (more on this later). Those who haven’t used a wireless charging solution before will most likely be impressed by how intuitive a solution it is. Sitting down at a desk, taking your iPhone out of your pocket, and placing it on the pad next to you feels every bit as natural as putting a hot cup of coffee down on a drink coaster.

The design of the KoolPuck is suitably minimalistic, and it won’t look out of place with your MacBook, iPhone, or other Apple products. There’s a good range of available colors and it’s small — measuring just 69mm across and with a thickness of 9mm — making it easily transportable.

There are two design flourishes which stand out. The first is an LED light which changes from blue to green to indicate that your phone is charging. This adds to the overall ease of use, since it’s straightforward to glance at the KoolPuck to see whether your phone is correctly syncing with it.

There’s also a silicon ring on both the top and bottom, which do a good job of holding the puck in place on a variety of surfaces. This works well on your desk, but it really comes into its own if you’re the kind of person that regularly charges their phone in the car. The puck can be attached to your dashboard, and the silicon ring will keep your phone secured even while you’re on the move.

The Bad

The number one rule of any charger is that it charges. Here’s where the KoolPuck falls down: it doesn’t always. While this wasn’t an absolute rule by any means, there were times during my testing period when charging would begin normally, reach around 75%, then begin beeping (the automatic sound made whenever charging isn’t taking place) for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

On the beeping front, there’s also the problem that the device beeps when it reaches a full 100% charge. According to the developers, beeping when the phone is fully charged is the result of a function Apple implemented in iOS 7, which the KoolPuck makers have no control over, but it can make overnight charging an issue.

Finally there’s the issue that you have to use an iQi ribbon charger in order to use the KoolPuck. For most people this isn’t going to be a problem, since it can be concealed inside any iPhone soft case (which is a positive in itself), but it does mean that you need a soft case — which might upset a certain percentage of iPhone users.

The Verdict

There’s a lot to like about the KoolPuck and the concept of wireless charging in general. Until the technology is fully worked out, however, it’s difficult to upgrade this from “neat in theory” to “neat in practice.” Hopefully these changes can be made with relative ease, and some techies will be perfectly happy to offset the occasional fault with the benefits that come from not having to plug in your iPhone whenever you want it charged.

For now, though, it’s not the surefire recommend we hope it one day will be. Although that’s not to say you won’t find any value in it. Since when didn’t new technologies come with a few teething problems?

Product Name: FoneSalesman KoolPuck Wireless Charger
The Good: Intuitive to use and attractively designed.
The Bad: That there are times when it doesn’t charge is inexcusable in a charger. Also means that you need to use a soft case for your iPhone.
The Verdict: One day all chargers will work like this. But that day may not be just yet.
Buy from: FoneSalesman

Cult of Mac rating: Good

  • Mike Retondo

    I just don’t get induction charging. What’s the advantage, it takes way longer to charge and doesn’t sync, takes up more room on my desk then my dock. My Belkin dock charges way faster, syncs at USB 2.0 speeds, takes up less desk space, with the phone in the upright position it’s more convenient look at and interact with and it’s just as easy to plug my phone in as lay it down. Okay, laying it down is slightly, every sooooo slightly easier then plugging it in.

    • cmoses

      I think the main benefit is the lack of wear and tear on the connectors in the phone. I have had my iPhone 5 for about a year and a half and my lightning connector is now having issues. I have to use a particular cable and plug it in just right to get it to charge. I am sure this is due to stuff getting caught in the connector, as well as wear and tear on the pins in there. Wireless charging is sounding better and better to me as I deal with the hassle of my phone.

      • Mike Retondo

        Hadn’t thought of that one. My family had 4 iPhone 4s’s for two years with no problems so It never crossed my mind. You are the first person or article how ever gave any real benefit.

      • cmoses

        I love the simplicity of the lightning connector, but I never had any issues with the 30-pin connector on my older iPhones. This one has been a huge pain the last couple months. It is super picky about which cable I use and what direction I plug it in and at what angle the cord is. Wish I still had warranty and I would be getting it fixed.

      • Mike Retondo

        I had the same problem with no name brand cables. Got rid of them all and only use Apple or Monoprice ones and now I have no issues at all.

  • winstonsmith39

    It’s a shame Steve didn’t think more about what he said in that instance. 50 million seconds is about a year and a half. It just shows that even very clever people can say dumb things.

    • Luke Dormehl

      Surely that’s assuming people only boot their Macs a single time? I think his point was about the cumulative saving provided you turn on your Mac every day (or even multiple times each day).

      • winstonsmith39

        True, but every account I’ve read presents it as Steve thinking 50 million seconds equals lives, not years. It just sounds like he didn’t think it through.

      • Luke Dormehl

        Fair enough. Guess that’s the dangers of being a legendary tech icon whose every sentence is endlessly reproduced, right? ;)

  • http://twitter.com/gettysburg11s gettysburg11s

    Since I have a wireless charging solution, I can comment on this. I did look at the one reviewed here. There are several drawbacks, as the author says, but the big one is that it does not work all the time. Thats strike three for me.

    The one I did buy, the Unu Aero, is bulkier than the iQi solution, its true. If you can get past that though, it actually works each and every time you put it on the charging pad, and without beeping when it reaches 100%. Also, it has a 2000 mah battery built into the charging case, so you can recharge your iPhone 5/5S on the go. It works wonderfully, and if you are skeptical about induction charging, it will make you a believer. Oh, and it doesn’t take way longer to charge, either.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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