Apple still hasn’t built wireless charging into any of its devices, but third-party accessories that add the feature are finally beginning to fall to more realistic prices. Duracell is one of the companies that is continuing to pursue the technology with its PowerMat system, currently including the PowerMat for Two Devices ($50). Also available for one or three devices at $40 or $70, respectively, the PowerMat hub is a slim piece of aluminum and plastic that plugs into the wall with a large included adapter. Users can then place compatible devices on the top surface, which lightly grips each device for charging magnetically. It’s available in either white or black.
PowerMat is about as minimalist as it gets, and that seems appropriate for a charging surface.
When an accessory, such as either the battery or case components from PowerSnap Kit is connected, the pad puts out an electronic bleep sound to let you know it’s charging. Pull it away, and you’ll again hear a bleep. The only other indicator is a small white LED underneath each access point that glows when the surface is providing power. On the underside, PowerMat has two strips of micro-suction material that hold it against a table or desk, enabling adhesive-like stabilization without leaving a mark when detached.
Because it’s designed for phones rather than more power-hungry tablets, PowerMat only puts out the necessary 1A of charging per access point necessary for full-speed iPhone refueling.
Despite the fact that the 1A-per-point speed isn’t listed anywhere on the pad itself, we confirmed it with Duracell, then tested it for ourselves, and it’s accurate. This two-device version of PowerMat can therefore handle two iPhones at once, or separately handle one iPhone and a battery pack, which is handy.
We were pleased overall with PowerMat, but it’s only a single piece of the wireless charging puzzle. On its own, you can’t do anything with it: you’re looking at a minimum additional investment of $35 for an iPhone 5 case, or $50 for an iPhone 5. The overall price has now dropped from “crazy” to “not crazy,” enabling people to seriously consider whether wireless charging is worth this sort of premium rather than writing the whole concept off.