One of the biggest drawbacks to the existing crop of wireless charging accessories is the need for a specialized case; they’re often bulky, and may not be aesthetically pleasing. Fonesalesman’s iQi Mobile Wireless Charging Receiver ($35) aims to be a solution to that issue. Instead of a full case, it’s a small, 0.6mm thin pad meant to rest in between the back of the phone and almost whatever case you choose, with soft cases recommended. The receiver slims down to a narrow ribbon at the bottom, terminating in a slightly thicker unauthorized Lightning connector, which is meant to be connected to the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, or fifth-generation iPod touch at all times. Once it’s in place, the phone should be able to charge when connected to any Qi power solution. An adhesive pad is included for holding the charging accessory in place.
At 1.3” wide and 2.7” tall, the receiver’s footprint won’t interfere with any cases. We tried it with a number of options, including protectors from Apple, Incipio, and Speck, and it fit well with each of them. Once the Lightning plug — one-sided, as opposed to the reversible connectors we’re used to — has been pushed firmly in place, the thin ribbon is able to bend around the bottom edge of the iPhone without any issue. Then it’s easy to snap whatever case into place, without noticing much, if any, difference.
Fonesalesman sent us two Qi surfaces for testing: the KoolPuck and Koolpad Qi Wireless Charging Pads. The former is a small, 2.7” diameter circle of plastic with a concentric rubber ring, and the other is a larger, glossy plastic rounded rectangle. Both draw power from micro-USB, and include the appropriate cables. In our initial testing, both pads worked well. Although KoolPuck has an obviously smaller connection point due to its lesser dimensions, when lined up properly, both began providing power to the iPhone 5, offering a somewhat shrill beep as confirmation.
Although things started off well, our overall experience wasn’t as positive. On both pads, the iPhone charged for a while with no issues, until it got into the high 90 percent range. At that point, a “this accessory may not be supported” message popped up on the screen, and charging ceased. If we left the handset on the charger, it would sometimes start charging again in a few minutes, and sometimes not. Sometimes, the pad would beep to indicate a connection, but charging would not actually start. Other times the beeping would persist, and still, no charging. We found that removing and resetting the plug often remedied this issue.
When iQi Mobile works, it works well. The concept is really a great one, and the closest we’ve seen to a wireless charging solution built into the iPhone itself. Unfortunately, the execution left us disappointed. When it comes to charging, the most important thing is consistency; you have to know that when you connect to a charger, it’ll provide power every time, without any need for adjustment. This is where Fonesalseman’s solution let us down. Too often, it wasn’t actually providing power. What could have potentially received an A- or high B-range rating falls to a C because of that problem. We can’t recommend a charging solution that doesn’t always work, no matter how cool it is.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPhone 5/5c/5s, iPod touch 5G