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Review: iQi Mobile wireless charging adapter for Apple's iPhone

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
As iPhone owners clamor for a way to cut the final cord, AppleInsider went hands-on with Fonesalesman's new iQi wireless charging adapter to test if the promising charging technology is ready for the spotlight.

iQi


Wireless charging is many gadget lovers' white whale, a tantalizing idea that's maddeningly difficult to capture. Few handsets natively support the technology, leaving most consumers to wade through a dense bog of competing standards and third-party add-ons.

Those that make it through to the other side often find today's solutions unsightly and difficult to use -- most require the phone to be ensconced in a cumbersome case, while charging pads can be at best finicky and at worst downright annoying. In this light, it's easy to see why the iQi's promise of hassle-free wireless charging without any added bulk helped it raise more than five times its $30,000 crowdfunding goal.

Unfortunately, after more than a week with the device, we're forced to conclude that the $35 iQi is just one more harpoon that missed the mark.

The Hardware



iQi


London-based Fonesalesman provided us with one iQi receiver and two charging pads, the company's notepad-sized Koolpad and a smaller, travel-friendly option called the Koolpuck. All three products are designed to work with the Qi charging system, an open standard backed by a variety of companies including semiconductor giant Qualcomm and mobile device makers like Sony and Nokia.

The iQi itself is composed of a plastic-wrapped induction coil connected to a male Lightning plug with a small ribbon cable. It's compatible with any Lightning-enabled device, including the fifth-generation iPod Touch.
The iQi is impressively compact, smaller and thinner than a credit card
The entire assembly is impressively compact, about two-thirds the size of a standard credit card and half as thin. This diminutive stature allows the iQi to slip unobtrusively behind any soft iPhone case, leaving a barely-perceptible bulge.

We did find one problem with the iQi's relatively dainty build: the ribbon cable is fragile, and our first unit would only charge with the cable bent at a specific angle. We can't be sure whether this was a manufacturing fault or a failure that happened as a result of installation, though a replacement unit hasn't exhibited the same issue.

The charging pads are fairly standard bits of kit, sporting micro USB ports for power and understated flat black aesthetics. The iQi will also work with any other Qi-compatible charging pad, like Nokia's well-designed DT-900, so users aren't constrained to Fonesalesman's offerings.

How it Works



iQi


Installing the iQi is a simple affair: insert the Lightning plug, gently fold the receiver around the back of the phone, and slip on a case of your choice. Fonesalesman includes a small rubber sticker to help the iQi stay in place, but we had no issues using the receiver without it.

When the receiver works, it works well -- charging an iPhone 5s takes just a few minutes longer using the iQi than it does using a standard Apple charger. Unfortunately, it's just not reliable.

Some of the problems are caused by the Qi standard itself. Qi's design requires the receiver to be precisely aligned with the transceiver in the charging pads, a surprisingly daunting task.

Using the larger Koolpad, we often needed as many as five tries to get the iQi-equipped phone properly positioned. This made us gravitate toward the Koolpuck, which was an improvement if for no other reason than its smaller size provides less margin for error.

iQi


Even after successfully connecting the iQi to its home base, there's no guarantee of a complete powerup.

We occasionally left the phone to charge with what appeared to be a good connection, but returned to find that it had stopped without warning. The issue recurred even while charging the phone in airplane mode in an attempt to rule out software interference.

Additionally, the iQi is not certified with Apple's Made for iPhone program. As a result, iOS will sometimes warn about the unsupported accessory and refuse to accept its life-giving charge until the iQi is removed and replaced. There's also no guarantee that future iOS versions will allow the iQi to operate at all, possibly rendering the investment worthless.

Conclusion



We really wanted to like the iQi, and it has gone as far as the underlying charging technology can take it -- unfortunately, that's just not far enough.

The Qi standard is simply too finicky, and the additional problems brought on by the lack of Made for iPhone certification mean that we can't recommend the iQi for most users. Until those issues are resolved, only the most ardent cord cutters should consider it.

Pros

  • Thin design that blends well with soft cases and doesn't add bulk

  • Compatible with a wide variety of Qi-standard charging pads


Cons

  • Expensive at $35 for the receiver alone

  • No MFi certification means frustrating iOS compatibility issues

  • The Qi standard presents its own set of problems that the iQi can't avoid


Score: 2.5 out of 5



ratings_hl_25.png

Where to buy



The iQi Mobile wireless iPhone charger with Lightning connector is available for $35 from Amazon, where it is sold by the manufacturer and fulfilled by Amazon, making it eligible for free two-day Prime shipping.
post #2 of 21

You can get the exact same product without the crappy artwork on Ebay for under $10. Just search for "iPhone Qi Receiver." Attach it to your lightning port, and BAM, wirelessly charged in just a few short hours.

post #3 of 21
Originally Posted by bkieffer View Post
on Ebay for under $10.

 

Oh, yeah. I trust that¡

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #4 of 21
I didn't say it wouldn't catch on fire. Only that it was the same product.
post #5 of 21
Originally Posted by bkieffer View Post
I didn't say it wouldn't catch on fire. Only that it was the same product.

 

That’s a great quote. :lol:

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkieffer View Post

I didn't say it wouldn't catch on fire. Only that it was the same product.

I see a new tag line for Samsung.
post #7 of 21

Waiting for Apple to make their own (QI incompatible) wireless charging system for iOS devices to see how the wireless charging haters will respond.

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post
 

Waiting for Apple to make their own (QI incompatible) wireless charging system for iOS devices to see how the wireless charging haters will respond.

 

The iQi is a nice attempt at letting Apple users charge wirelessly like Android and WP users can.  It just isn't going to work because having to plug that dongle-card in is just plain cludgey and Apple makes it difficult and incompatible to work with.  Apple should come up with its own solution, its a nice capability.

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post
 

Waiting for Apple to make their own (QI incompatible) wireless charging system for iOS devices to see how the wireless charging haters will respond.

 

I have to wonder if you realize the sheer stupidity of your post. Do you honestly think "wireless charging haters" irrationally hate the concept of wireless charging, or simply the current state of wireless charging which has major drawbacks and very few advantages (slow charging, unreliable, contact with a separate piece of hardware required, etc)?

 

Yes, if Apple comes out with a solution that is more useable and superior to everything else out there (like they've done with multiple product categories and technologies) then of course people will and should respond positively. That does not make them hypocrites (as in your twisted mind) simply because these same people were not in love with the shit solutions we have today. BRILLIANT logic there. 


Edited by Slurpy - 3/16/14 at 8:29pm
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkieffer View Post

I didn't say it wouldn't catch on fire. Only that it was the same product.

What a vote of confidence.
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
post #11 of 21
Slurpy's got it. If Apple do a wireless charger, you can be sure that it will be better than anything out there now. For starters, you would be able to use the device; what's the point of a wireless charger if your device has to sit on it, out of action? You might as well plug your normal charger in and be done with it.
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
post #12 of 21

I know I must be missing some huge piece of obviousness here, but I have never quite seen the point (or advantage, maybe) of wireless charging.

 

What am I missing?

post #13 of 21
Not sure what all the hype is about iQi. There has been a similar receiver available via Amazon for a while now (Ubest Qi Wireless Charger Receiver for Apple iPhone 5 iPhone 5C iPhone 5S). It works great, charges fast, fits most flexible cases (such as the Incipio Feather) and placement on a ravpower qi charger mat doesn't have to be exactly perfect. You just need to make sure the phone is on the pad and not overhanging and it charges.

This model also has what appears to be a sturdier lightning connector. I don't recommend pealing off the sticky back but instead use a strip of cellophane tape at the top of the receiver so you can take it off to use the lightning port as needed for travel and sync.
post #14 of 21
post #15 of 21

I must elaborate on my own experience with the iQi Mobile, as it has been quite different. I received my units a couple of weeks ago, and immediately started using one with my iPhone 5S. I had an existing Lerway Qi charger pad as well as I received several iQi Mobile KoolPucks. At first, I couldn't get the beeping of the pad to stop each time I placed the phone upon the KoolPuck, however removing and replacing the receiver seemed to fix the issue. 

 

Ever since then, I have placed a KoolPuck next to my bed, where I generally charge each night. The KoolPuck is nice and compact and has never had one issue. The convenience is in the ability to pick my phone up in the middle of the night to see what time it is, or to check and alert while watching TV in bed, without being tethered. Before I had to be more careful with the cable there, and I would always seem to hit the cable at night, as my phone was often on the floor in the morning. With the KoolPuck I can permanently keep the cable out of the way, since it doesn't need to move at all.

 

I have since been using my iQi receiver and KoolPucks and Lerway pad for 2 weeks without any issues whatsoever. No MFi lightning problems (even with iOS 7.1), and haven't had any beeping issues. I love these things so far. Luckily my battery stays charged all day, so I have one charge pad at work just in case, and 2 at home, one by the bed and one on my desk.

 

A friend also purchased them for his iPhone 5S and hasn't had any issues either, so we can be counted as 2 very satisfied users! Best of luck to you!

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post
 

 

I have to wonder if you realize the sheer stupidity of your post. Do you honestly think "wireless charging haters" irrationally hate the concept of wireless charging, or simply the current state of wireless charging which has major drawbacks and very few advantages (slow charging, unreliable, contact with a separate piece of hardware required, etc)?

 

Yes, if Apple comes out with a solution that is more useable and superior to everything else out there (like they've done with multiple product categories and technologies) then of course people will and should respond positively. That does not make them hypocrites (as in your twisted mind) simply because these same people were not in love with the shit solutions we have today. BRILLIANT logic there. 

 

Right, whatever.  So you are saying that if we go look at older articles on AppleInsider, MacRumors, Macworld, or discussion sites, we will not find people saying things like: "who cares about wireless charging", "Apple should not waste their time with wireless charging", etc?

 

Typical Apple fanboy spin.  They completely dismiss an idea, but when Apple actually implements that idea, they backtrack and change their story to "Apple was planning to do it all along".

 

Apple will not make a video iPod.  Nobody wants to watch video on an iPod.

Apple will not make a cell phone.

Apple should not allow third parties to create native iPhone applications.  Web apps are really sweet.

Apple will not add copy and paste to the iPhone. Nobody cares about copy and paste on the iPhone.

Apple will not add multitasking to the iPhone. Nobody cares about multitasking on the iPhone.

Apple will never switch to Intel processors.


Edited by Haggar - 3/17/14 at 2:21pm
post #17 of 21
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Right, whatever.  So you are saying that if we go look at older articles on AppleInsider, MacRumors, Macworld, or discussion sites, we will not find people saying things like: "who cares about wireless charging", "Apple should not waste their time with wireless charging", etc?

 

Can’t imagine. What you will find is people saying not to waste your time with induction charging. Proper wireless charging is the future we’ve been desperately waiting for since the 1880s.

 
Typical Apple fanboy spin.  They completely dismiss an idea, but when Apple actually implements that idea, they backtrack and change their story to "Apple was planning to do it all along".

 

You continue to remind us that you have no clue what you’re talking about.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #18 of 21
Wireless charging is not eco friendly and it leaves a larger carbon foot print, then a properly used power supply or computer port. The battery is bad enough, but the charging method is highly inefficient, even when it works properly. Massive waste of electrical energy! Starbucks is going to experiment with wireless charging, but I'd rather have access to a 110v outlet at every table. Solar charging directly on the screen, like a calculator, would be where I'd expect improvements, not wireless charging stations.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac-Cat View Post

Wireless charging is not eco friendly and it leaves a larger carbon foot print, then a properly used power supply or computer port. The battery is bad enough, but the charging method is highly inefficient, even when it works properly. Massive waste of electrical energy! Starbucks is going to experiment with wireless charging, but I'd rather have access to a 110v outlet at every table. Solar charging directly on the screen, like a calculator, would be where I'd expect improvements, not wireless charging stations.

 

At the Starbucks near my house -- granted, it's TINY -- you're never out of range of an outlet.  Or nearly never.  But like I said, it's really small.  Heading there now, in fact.  I'll check my facts better.

 

Interesting info about wireless charging.  Thanks.  I've never really understood the point, personally.  But maybe that's just me.

post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronJ View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac-Cat View Post

Wireless charging is not eco friendly and it leaves a larger carbon foot print, then a properly used power supply or computer port. The battery is bad enough, but the charging method is highly inefficient, even when it works properly. Massive waste of electrical energy! Starbucks is going to experiment with wireless charging, but I'd rather have access to a 110v outlet at every table. Solar charging directly on the screen, like a calculator, would be where I'd expect improvements, not wireless charging stations.

At the Starbucks near my house -- granted, it's TINY -- you're never out of range of an outlet.  Or nearly never.  But like I said, it's really small.  Heading there now, in fact.  I'll check my facts better.

Interesting info about wireless charging.  Thanks.  I've never really understood the point, personally.  But maybe that's just me.

Also note that a 110v outlet is the same as a 110.0v outlet, whereas OS X 10.10 is not the same as OS X 10.1, confusing though that may be to some people.
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
"If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth."
- African proverb
Reply
post #21 of 21

Yeah, my tiny Starbucks has outlets actually accessible from anywhere.  There's a bar by the windows, for example, and it has a row of outlets running underneath it.

 

So, wireless charging there would be rather pointless, seems to me.

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