Last year when Google introduced Qi charging for the Nexus 4 we were all super excited to be able to charge our phones sans wires. At the time though, Qi charging for phones was relatively new and many people were burnt (along with suppliers and sellers) with Qi chargers that were less than perfect. They heated the phone up to dangerous levels, they stopped charging at 80% and several other issues were reports we heard on the grapevine as well as experienced ourselves. Fast forward 12 months and while there are still not many Android devices with Qi charging built in (Nexus 7 2013, Nexus 4, and now Nexus 5 come to mind) other manufacturers are offering extras to allow customers to charge their phones wirelessly (Samsung Galaxy S4 for one). The availability and quality of Qi chargers on the other hand have come a long way. What was once an exorbitantly expensive alternative to a $2 microUSB cable is now just an expensive alternative.

These days you can pick up a decent Qi charger from eBay or the Chinese site Fasttech for under $30 or more decent-looking ones from local sites Droidax, Kogan and Gadgets4geeks. Local bricks and mortar stores such as JB Hifi are stocking some nice slim chargers as well. It seems that Qi chargers are in such abundance that they can be used anywhere. Personally I have two at work and two at home. But what about that other domain where we spend our time, the car? There have been many modifications of standard Qi chargers in the past for car dock use but to be honest, none of those looked either safe nor easy to accomplish. I decided to try and track down a dedicated car dock Qi charger and the only place I managed to find one was eBay.

I have had quite a few people ask me about it so here it is: well worth the $50. So what do you get for that pineapple that is no longer burning a hole in your pocket?

  • Wireless Charging Pad
  • Air vent bracket
  • Suction cup holder
  • 9v Car Charger Adapter
  • USB Cable
  • Fixing Plate

in_the_box

Pros

  • No need to plug phone in each time
  • Charges everytime you dock the phone
  • Wireless
  • Fits and works with all Nexus 5 phone cases currently available

Cons

  • Long USB cable to plug into dock
  • Dock can be shakey
  • Base is a bit slippery
  • Still more expensive than a microUSB cable

As per most things ordered from either Hong Kong or China via eBay the shipping time was close to 3 weeks which is not ideal but when you are paying $1.98 to ship such a large item I find it hard to complain. Once here I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the packaging the dock arrived in. I was expecting a bland, no name box which may have held anything, including eggs of endangered bird species but instead got a nice transparent blue box that neatly packed all the contents tightly, securely and safely. Yeah, yeah, who cares you say but my point is that the box often typifies the quality of the product and in this case it certainly did. I first tested it out with the dock attached to an AC microUSB charger and it worked perfectly. Turned on straight away. There is a light on the dock that shows purple when the dock has power and changes to blue when charging which was a nice touch.

box charging_light2

The dock is similar to many others that you will find on eBay where it squeezes in on the sides to clamp the phone into position and does this quite well. What I didn’t like was the base was just plastic and seemed slippery (especially when I was taking the corners at 90km/hr around suburban Mont Albert). To combat this I performed a mod without a nandroid backup! Yes, I cut a small piece of the backing for a floor mat and superglued that to the plastic. Grippy. Problem solved, although I may need to trim that down to a bare minimum as it seems to interfere with my voice recognition and who here doesn’t love a bit of “OK Google” action?

I tested the dock using my Nexus 4 with and without slim case and both worked. I also tested it with my Nexus 5 bare, with a slim Spigen Ultra Hybrid case and a Spigen Slim Armor case. All performed seamlessly without any issues at all although the Slim Armor was pushing it for thickness that would allow the dock to still clamp onto the phone and hold it safely.

vent car_vent2
windshield2 phone_windshield2

Both mounts I tried, the windshield and the air vent mount did shake a bit while screaming around those corners which messed with my Tasker settings for turning car mode on (Qi charging connected and orientation standing up) but the phone stayed well attached the entire time. While shakey I have yet to have the dock become disconnected. I still trust it to hold my precious Nexus 5, caseless, unprotected.

Another issue or possible negative to it I have found is that the USB connection is at the top of the dock and looks a bit unseemly looping out of the top of the dock. To combat this I have purchased a 90 degree right and left angled microUSB adapter although they are yet to arrive.

right_angle2

But how does it work as a charger? As well as any Qi charger I have come across. It seems to charge at the usual speed for a Qi charger without the excessive heat seen in the chargers produced in the early days of Qi charging. In saying that it did seem to get hot when charging in full sunlight on the 34 degree heat so I would try to avoid using it in direct sunlight on a hot day, but that is probably the rule for most chargers. Another interesting tidbit is the Qi charging must interfere with the NFC chip because the NFC tag I have stuck to the charger to initiate and end my car mode Tasker task will only work when the charger is not connected. Keep this in mind is using an NFC tag for a function involved with the Qi charging dock.

So if you are looking for a car dock with a little bit extra I can highly recommend this Qi charging car dock, you can find them on eBay and even though it’s from eBay, in my opinion it is still a good quality product.

Editors Note: It’s always worth mentioning that there are risks involved with ordering any powered devices from eBay, and you should always familiarise yourself with any return procedures or warranty claim information that the seller has available. That said most of us here at Ausdroid have done this on many occasions and have had very few issues.

  • Greg Tenni

    Mine broke off at the (very narrow) neck where it attaches to the back of the charger bracket. Had only had about 30 hours of driving. Happily I got a warranty replacement, but I still have concerns it may happen again. Also, Nokia Lumia 920 doesn’t always charge when sitting toward the bottom of the cradle. I find I have to move it up about half an inch before it starts charging.

  • Ian N.

    I got one for Christmas; the only difference I can see from yours is that mine goes from blue (on) to slowly flashing red (charging). I don’t like the flash out of the corner of my eye while driving at night, but otherwise I’m happy with mine.

  • AlFrench

    Is there any one that fits the Lumia 1520 in?

  • Andrew

    I bought the lg fit2 car cradle so my lg puck qi charger fits in it works awesome

    • Alex Hutton

      How much did you pay for it? I can’t seem to find any for under $200 and that’s a lot of money to pay for a car charger

  • toast

    Nice, except for the dopey USB plug on the top.

    I am in the process of buying a new car right now. Cars all have Bluetooth and USB ports for charging built in, but surely it’s about time to build in proper Phone docks, rather than resorting to suction cups on the dashboard or window and USB cables dangling down.

    Think about it car makers. Its the Next Big Thing after sufficient cup holders.

    • David Anderton

      Its happening very soon, trust me ;)

    • Ian N.

      There seems to be a move with the car docks toward a standard connector between the phone part and the suction/vent part. The above QI charger has it, which meant I could re-use my existing mount.

  • Alex Hutton

    Been on the fence about buying one of these for a while but I couldn’t find any reviews. Just ordered it, thanks for posting your thoughts. One thing I am concerned about is charge time/amperage delivered.

    The unit says “1A” output and I wonder if this will be enough to run the screen at full brightness, GPS and bluetooth on and streaming music over 4G whilst still charging the phone…

    • toast

      Fair question. Can the charging keep up with Google Maps?

    • Thomas Hutchings

      Depends on the phone you have I would guess. With my Nexus 4 and a 1A USB car charger, my battery would go up slowly while having Ingress open and listening to music while driving. However on my Nexus 5 and the same charger, my battery slowly goes down.

      • bhislop

        I have found exactly the same. The N5 wall plug outputs 1.2A so I’m guessing this is the difference. I’ve ordered an adapter that outputs 2.1A to see if that fixes it, but yet to arrive. That said, I’m also tempted by this ;)

      • Thomas Hutchings

        I have an external battery I use for Ingress, which has both a 1A and 2.1A output ports on it. I use that now when driving too as the 2.1A does make it go up when Ingress in running. So the new one you ordered will work great for you. (I still need to get round to ordering a new car charger with 2.1A but was hoping to get a Qi Wireless one with more than 1.2A output, but oh well, next time maybe)

  • Michael Petkov

    Noyce!