John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Cell phone wireless charging

Recently cell phones have been adding wireless charging as an option on top of the usual micro USB charging. It is a convenience. It consists of a wireless charging dock and a receiver on the phone end. You plug in a normal 2A micro USB charger into the dock and it creates a magnetic field that in turn imparts the current into the phone. Now to say it is inefficient is an understatement. A 2A micro USB charger imparts a mere 0.8A into the phone. The highest I have seen is 1A. This means this is by no means a quick charge .

As with any new technology there are two competing standards. One called Qi and one called PMA. Phones like the Samsung S6 has added both just to be compatible. My Samsung S5 came with neither but I discovered a Samsung option that you can purchase to replace the back and add a Qi wireless charging receiver. Why Samsung didn’t just add it to the S5 is beyond me. So I went onto Amazon and ebay and started to do some research. I found an inexpensive kit that you can add the wireless receiver yourself to the S5. It fits between the phones back and cover. I bought the kit for a whopping $10.

The coil connects to two small pins on the inide of the cover:

The kit did not include any form of tape or adhesion to keep the coil in place inside the phone. The connector is a round ball so to say it doesn’t want to stay in place would be an understatement (yet another one:) ). Using electrical tape I was able to get it in place and the back of the phone holds it all in place. If you really want to use this option I recommend buying a back cover with the coil integrated into it. To avoid the irritation of having to try and get this in place. And the way I had to tape it in place removes the possibility of carrying a spare battery, one of the reasons I chose the S5 (over the S6) in the first place.

This charge base has two lights on it, one to indicate the micro USB charger is connected and one to say it sees the coil in the phone. If the phone doesn’t start charging it indicates there is an issue with the connection to the phone from the coil. This actually reveals an issue with the solution. First of all you have three lights on (two on the dock and likely one on the phone). And since the coil is on the back of the phone the phone has to be turned screen side up. So in the event that the phone wakes up for some reason you have a bright light from the screen lighting up the room you maybe trying to sleep in. You should also be aware it is a pretty strong magnetic field so keep badges, credit cards and the like away from the charger to avoid them being wiped out. The positioning with this charging dock is finicky. If you don’t get it right it won’t charge. Knock it during the night and it might move. This dock did not include any form of non-slip surface so even a vibration from a notification could move the phone off the magic spot. All in all while a neat idea some futzing is involved. My solution to the bright lights was to make a flap out of electrical tape that covers the lights when you don’t want to see them but you can lift when you do. In doing more digging I discovered some much better designs that solve these issues including multi coil charging docks that may make it far less finicky to get the phone in exactly the right spot. Like this one (of course more expensive):

I had some issues with chargers and this dock. I tried 5 different chargers and only one worked correctly (my black berry quick travel charger). The others would start charging then stop, then start … And this caused the screen to come on and off as it cycled and sadly woke me up in the middle of the night with this silly thing flashing until I realized the issue was with the charger itself. A compatibility issue of some sort.

To give you an idea of how slow on my S5 the charge went from 22%-90% in 1 hr and 5 mins on the stock charger. To do roughly the same took 2 hr 40 mins using wireless, so more than double. Here is a graph comparing the charge rate:

I’m surprised the dock does not have some physical bar you can slide up to indicate when your phone ought to be sitting. Now maybe it’s just this dock but I am underwhelmed by just how sensitive to EXACT positioning of the phone the dock is.

So I did some more digging and discovered the Source was carrying an Sview cover with the charging coil built in. I was planning on buying an Sview cover anyway and this kit included the cover, as well as the charge pad. Now it wasn’t cheap at $69, but that said the Source was the ONLY place carrying it this cheap. So I bought it.


The charge pad on this one has only one LED and it is multi color. The LED is more conveniently located on the side of the dock so it’s not so bright. Again I had issues with chargers. Oddly the Samsung wouldn’t work. My blackberry travel charger again worked. And again it woke me in the middle of the night flashing when the charging stopped due to an incompatible charger. Fortunately unlike the el cheapo once it had an issue it stayed off so at least the phone wasn’t going on and off. But of course it also meant that the phone didn’t charge either. The Samsung charge pad again did not include a non-slip surface and it too was a little finicky in placement of the phone on the pad.

So in the end on a phone like the S5 where you have screw around with the silly charge cover wireless charging is handy, and neat tech. I wouldn’t pay a whole lot for it, but it is a cool add. For charging through the night where you don’t care how long it takes it’s a good choice. I can also see having it on a car phone holder would also be super convenient.

July 10, 2015 - Posted by | Android

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