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Powermat review: Wireless charging for iPhone 4 and BlackBerry Bold 9700, 9780

Wirelessly charging your gadgets is the dream. We mean true wireless charging – sucking the power straight from the air. Some dream of this more than others – pet owners, mobile phone bloggers and journalists, for example – but we’ll all reap the rewards when that happy day comes.

For now, we’ll make do with Powermat, which provides almost-wireless charging by passing charge from a plugged-in mat to your handset via a Powermat receiver which can take the form of a full case or simply a replacement back.

We’ve put the latest Powermat charging solutions for iPhone 4 and BlackBerry Bold 9700 through their paces, read on to see what we think.

This is the mat itself. It’s a slimmer and more attractive affair than previous Powermat iterations, and allows you to charge up to two devices – handy if you have a work phone and personal phone, or a live-in partner.

The mat is the only piece of equipment that needs to be plugged in to the wall – but it can be a permanent fixture on your bedside table, for example, so the wires are not too obtrusive.

Unfortunately, the iPhone 4 – that sleek and beautiful marvel of phone design – still requires a case. While the chunky black Powermat case does solve your antenna problems, it also makes your iPhone 4 large and a bit unwieldy for the small-handed like yours truly (compared to the case-less handset, that is).

The case is super easy to get on the handset, but my goodness I had a time of it getting it back off. Perhaps there’s a knack to it that I simply didn’t get, but ladies, take note: I broke two nails while battling the case. Not cool.

Once the iPhone is in the case, it’s pretty plain sailing though.

The iPhone 4 also gets its very own single-charger mat which fits the be-cased iPhone 4 perfectly. This works in the same way as the larger mat, with a wire plugging into the mains to provide the power. It’s not quite as beautiful as the slim and stylish mat for two but it will take up less room on the bedside table.

We tried out the regular Powermat, big enough for two devices to charge at once; simply pop your BlackBerry or be-cased iPhone on to the mat until the magnets lock into place and you hear that familiar jingle of a connected charger. It took a few goes to get the hang of popping it in the right place, but once you’ve got it you’ve got it for life. (we imagine).

The BlackBerry Bold is just as easy to charge as the iPhone 4 – easier, in fact, as it is slightly smaller so it’s easier to toss it onto the mat in the right way.

The BlackBerry Bold 9700 (and 9780) doesn’t need an external case at all – simply a Powermat back panel which replaces the handset’s own. It is very unobtrusive save for these two little nubbins at the bottom of the panel.

The only problem is that our BlackBerry 9780 is white and the back panel from Powermat is black: not ideal but we’ll let it slide. Most BlackBerry handsets tend to be black, after all.

Once either or both handsets are on the mat, they charge just as though they’re plugged in to a traditional charger. It’s hard to tell whether or not the charging takes place quicker or at the same speed, but an overnight charge generally left us with a full battery.

So what did we think? Charging is easy and kind of fun. We prefer the BlackBerry charcer with its sneaky sly back panel replacement – that iPhone 4 case is still a little bit ugly. For the casual charger it’s a clever little solution and means the end of endless charger wires tangled in a drawer.


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