Review: Griffin PowerJolt for iPhone (2008)
With only a couple of small caveats, there has never been anything magical or difficult about recharging an iPod's battery: sure, the charging accessory needed to have been engineered not to send too much or too little power to the iPod, and there were other small considerations, but creating an iPod home or car charger was virtually the same as creating a USB charger for other devices. Then the release of the iPhone changed this a little, adding a couple of small hurdles, most notably a higher maximum power demand. iPod chargers could still charge iPhones, but new chargers designed for the iPhone could conceivably do a better job under certain conditions.
For the last few years, Griffin Technology’s car and home iPod chargers have been some of the most popular accessories on the market; thanks to more favorable pricing, its PowerBlock series of home chargers have sometimes surpassed even Apple’s own USB chargers in sales. This year, Griffin has overhauled its entire lineup of car and home chargers, including two-charger combination packs, resulting in an array of options that may be a little confusing for some users. This review looks solely at PowerJolt for iPhone ($20), which is also included as a component in the PowerDuo and PowerDuo Universal combination home and car charger packs, reviewed separately.
PowerJolt for iPhone is a rapid replacement of last year’s PowerJolt for iPhone and iPod, a car-only charger that we noted was subject to becoming hot to the touch when used to recharge an iPhone. In an apparent rush to get one of the first authorized iPhone chargers into the marketplace, Griffin had shoehorned the iPhone’s more power-hungry charging circuitry into the shell of a previously excellent, if not stunningly beautiful iPod-specific PowerJolt. The new PowerJolt is smaller and better looking than before, now equipped with a ring of light surrounding its USB port to indicate charging status—green for connected to power, amber for currently charging. But it no longer includes both a USB-to-iPod/iPhone cable and a USB-to-mini USB cable for accessories; only the iPod/iPhone cable is included.
Thankfully, Griffin’s new PowerJolt doesn’t suffer from the same issues as its immediate predecessor. We had no problem charging an iPhone, even when it was actively using its Bluetooth and GSM/EDGE hardware, as this PowerJolt delivered power and didn’t become hot to the touch. iPods also had no issue when charging. Its smaller design looked better in our test vehicle, and the amber ring around the USB port made it easy to see with a quick glance that the iPhone or iPod was still charging. The only reason this PowerJolt doesn’t rate as highly as the 2006 model is its omission of the USB-to-mini USB cable, which enabled accessorized iPods and iPhones to charge as easily as unaccessorized ones.
Now that Griffin has remedied last year’s PowerJolt issue, which knocked that model out of our general recommendation category, our feeling about all of the company’s Power series iPod and iPhone chargers is positive, but not more than that. While the prices of each of the charging packages have stayed roughly the same from their predecessors, spare cables have disappeared from certain packages, industrial design has improved across the board, and features have remained constant except for under the hood tweaks. With the exception of the PowerBlock Dual and its combo pack PowerBlock Universal, which will work fine for iPods and iPhones except under unusually demanding iPhone conditions—the reason for their slightly lower, flat B ratings—we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of these items to all of our readers. They work as expected, look good, and make iPod or iPhone charging convenient.