This wireless charger will disinfect your iPhone [Review]

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The Mophie UV Sanitizer With Wireless Charging can blast your iPhone with germ-killing ultraviolet light.
This wireless charger can blast your iPhone with germ-killing ultraviolet light.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

With a recent study showing the virus that causes COVID-19 can live up to 28 days on glass and stainless steel, it might be time to double down on your disinfectant efforts. Remind me again what iPhones are made of … oh, yeah, glass and metal. Yikes!

One easy way to sanitize your iPhone and other small items is to use a device like the Mophie UV Sanitizer with a built-in wireless charger. While the company doesn’t specifically claim that the device kills COVID-19 dead, another recent study showed definitively that ultraviolet light can kill the potentially deadly virus.

At some point, “better safe than sorry” comes into play.

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Mophie UV Sanitizer with wireless charger review

Made of lightweight white plastic, Mophie’s sanitizer looks like something you’d see in a stylish sci-fi flick where everything’s clean and polished to perfection. It’s simple to use, and takes just five minutes to rid your iPhone of a variety of cooties. According to Mophie, it will “kill up to 99.9% of Staph and E. coli surface bacteria on your phone or other everyday items.”

Obviously, you really don’t want to be rubbing any of that stuff around on your face if you can help it. And your iPhone seems like a perfect vector for infection — assuming you ever take it out of your house and lay it down on a suspect surface.

To use Mophie’s device to sanitize your iPhone, you just flip up the clamshell lid and set the smartphone inside. Then you press the glowing white button on front and hear a beep to indicate the beginning of the process. Five minutes later, the sanitizer quietly beeps three times and you can retrieve your device.

It offers no other clue that the sanitation cycle has completed. However, if you open the lid mid-cycle, the potentially dangerous UV-C light goes out immediately.

If you want to charge your iPhone, AirPods or other Qi-compatible devices, you simply set them on top of the Mophie sanitizer. Rated at 10 watts, it delivers more than the max possible for current iPhones. (iPhone 11 tops out at 7.5 watts, but the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup can handle up to 15 watts.) Also, you cannot charge the phone while it’s inside the disinfectant chamber. But you can charge one device while simultaneously sanitizing something else.

Pros and cons

Aside from the general caveat that the Mophie UV Sanitizer is not proven to kill COVID-19 (see note below), several other things might affect how much you like it.

For starters, the sanitizing box is on the small side. Its interior measures roughly 4.25 inches by 7.25 inches. While the packaging shows AirPods getting a germ-blasting dose of UV light, Mophie’s unit is too shallow to accommodate the earbuds’ charging case. That’s a major bummer. It’s deep enough to toss in credit cards, some jewelry, car keys or a wad of cash (unless you’re packing a gangster-size bankroll). But the lack of depth limits the sanitizer’s utility.

Also, that glowing light … it’s pretty bright, and it stays on at all times. You definitely wouldn’t want to put this on your nightstand if that kind of thing bothers you.

The light pulses gently when you put a phone or AirPods on top to charge. That’s handy for showing that you’ve got your device properly positioned (one of the biggest annoyances of wireless charging). On the flip side, the top surface itself is fairly slick — with slight, curvy indentations that indicate it’s a charger — so it’s easy to imagine your gear getting jostled out of the charging “sweet spot.”

The lid doesn’t stay up on its own, which is odd but really no big deal. Who knows, maybe it’s a safety feature. Small bumps on the bottom of the inner chamber elevate your phone (or whatever) so the UV light can get to all surfaces. It comes with a chunky white power adapter and a 5-foot cord with a USB-C connector on the end that plugs into the sanitizer.

The whole thing weighs less than a pound, which makes it portable but also means it doesn’t feel all that substantial.

Mophie UV Sanitizer with wireless charger final thoughts

Mophie, a Zagg brand, has earned a reputation for quality products over the years. The company says its Mophie UV Sanitizer with Wireless Charging has been tested by a third party and proven effective at killing “99.99% of the most common surface bacteria on the devices you touch daily.” Mophie is no fly-by-night brand, so I take the germ-killing claim at face value. Cult of Mac doesn’t own a lab capable of conducting that sort of testing.

From a wireless charging perspective, Mophie’s UV sanitizer works fine. It’s subject to the standard pros and cons of wireless charging. The product’s main drawback is the small size of the sanitizing chamber, but it’s large enough for almost any smartphone in a case. You could toss in other small objects — even an N95 mask.

With a list price of $79.95, Mophie’s UV Sanitizer costs more than some competitors (none of which I’ve tested). However, it’s currently on sale for $54.95, which falls more in line with the going rate.

Buy from: Zagg

Competing products: Other UV device sanitizers

  • The PhoneSoap 3 UV sanitizer is made by a pioneer in the field. It lists for $79.95. The larger PhoneSoap Pro runs $119.95, holds more and comes in a variety of colors. Neither one offers wireless charging. (Both are currently available with a 20% off coupon from Amazon.)
  • InvisibleShield, another brand under the Zagg umbrella, sells a UV Sanitizer without wireless charging that lists for $59.99 but currently sells for $39.99.
  • With COVID-19 still surging, UV sanitizers remain in fairly high demand — and lots of companies produce them. Cult of Mac Deals sells a variety of UV sanitizers with an array of features, from wireless charging to aromatherapy(!).

Note: Cult of Mac has not tested any of these competing devices.

P.S. Does UV light kill COVID-19 virus?

Just how effective is ultraviolet light at killing the COVID-19 virus? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn’t that helpful. This comes straight from the CDC’s COVID-19 FAQ:

How effective are alternative disinfection methods, such as ultrasonic waves, high intensity UV radiation, and LED blue light?

The efficacy of these disinfection methods against the virus that causes COVID-19 is not known. EPA only recommends use of the surface disinfectants identified on List Nexternal icon against the virus that causes COVID-19. EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of pesticidal devices, such as UV lights, LED lights, or ultrasonic devices. However, CDC is producing guidance on use of Germicidal ultraviolet as an alternative disinfection method. Therefore, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19. For more information on CDC’s recommendations for primary surface disinfection in occupied environments please visit the CDC/EPA guidance for surface disinfection.

Obviously, washing your hands properly and taking other steps to keep your gear sanitized makes sense during a pandemic. Adding a UV sanitizer to the mix can’t hurt.

Mophie provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.