For the mobile warrior who needs to be able to charge, and re-charge, their phones and other accessories easily, and often while on the road, there are generally three choices:
- Have a base station at home, and carry a charging plug and cable with you everywhere you go
- Use a battery case that can re-charge your device while you use it
- Carry a portable battery around with you
Each choice has its plusses and minuses. Using just cables gives you the freedom to put your device in any case you want, or even go caseless to show of the amazing design work that went into your investment. But having to stop and plug into a wall at inopportune times can be a hassle.
Battery cases are cool, because they mean the extra juice is with you wherever you go. I personally like the ZEROLEMON cases. The significant drawback here is that for the battery case to have enough juice to re-charge your device at least 1x times, it’s going to add significant weight and thickness.
Carrying a portable, re-chargeable battery around with you can solve a couple of those problems – you still have the added weight, but most of the time its in your bag. Plus it can be used for more than one device. However, you will need to charge it separately from your devices, meaning more cables.
So, what’s the right way to go? Really, it all comes down to your personal preference and how you work. But I recent got the chance to test out a new charging system that tries to find a sweet spot between many of these alternatives. And it’s from Patriot, those folks who make the best gaming memory and USB storage in the world.
Their FUEL iON system includes a wireless charging base station (either flat, or upright) and a case for your device (they have cases for iPhones and Galaxy devices). The big deal here is that their wireless system isn’t induction, which can be slow, and requires a certain precision in how you place your device on the base station that often belies the time savings of not having to plug the phone in. The FUEL iON system instead has strong magnets in the base and case that instantly align the contacts built into each, allowing a direct conductive power flow, which is as fast as directly plugging the device in.
Yes, the FUEL iON system requires you to use a specific case, but it’s far lighter and thinner than a battery case. Here’s a comparison between my battery case and the FUEL iON case:
Notice that the battery case is about 20% thicker (and you can take my word for it that it is about twice as heavy) as the iON case. What’s also cool is that when the phone is on the upright charger, it can be in a vertical or horizontal position, allowing for easy video-watching while charging.
The recharging part comes with the portable battery that you bring with you wherever you go. Now, as we mentioned above, carrying a portable battery with you still means you’ve got to charge it separately. So if we’re doing that AND using a special case, what have we saved? Well, turns out there is no issue of separate charging. The FUEL iON battery is a pass-through device. It can be on the charging station at the same time as your phone!
And the battery works similarly to the base station, in that you just have to put it back-to-back with the phone. The magnets align the contacts, and charging begins without any button pushing. It also has micro USB in for charging, and regular USB out so you can use it to charge other devices.
And a last bit of coolness is the car mount accessory. Similar to other car mounts, it uses a suction cup assembly to attach to a glass surface on your dashboard, or to the inside of the windshield. But unlike other mounts, it uses the same magnet system as the base station to hold you phone and charge it (or the battery). The magnets are strong enough that the phone stays in place in everyday driving.
And here’s another cool thing. The folks at Patriot – they’re a memory company, remember? – say they’re working on an external battery with storage built in, so that you can connect additional memory to your phone as well. Nifty.
How you use your phone, and how you manage the battery, is a very personal workflow. Patriot has delivered a very creative solution that makes charging and re-charging as effortless as possible. If this is how you like to work, you should definitely try it out.
Review units were provided by Patriot.