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