Review: iBolt's ChargeDock brings easy iPhone charging to the desk or the dashboard

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 8
The new iBOLT ChargeDock iPhone Magnetic Charging Dock offers convenient charging for a variety of iPhone models, with the positives and negatives that come with magnets in an iPhone case.




One of a long list of accessory makers with "i" in their name, iBolt has mostly focused on in-car products for much of its history. The specific ChargeDock line was already available for Android devices, but the new product is the first ChargeDock for iPhone.

Touted as "the world's first magnetic charging dock for your iPhone," iBolt's ChargeDock has a unique gimmick. The ChargeDock itself has four magnets, to hold the phone in place. The user's iPhone connects to the dock's lightning connector, while the back of the phone connects to the dock, with a pair of metal plates assisting in the magnetization.

This can work either with or without a case. The metal plate is ideally supposed to go between the iPhone and the case, or without a case, between the iPhone and the dock.

The product comes with iBolt's ROK 3 suction mount, an existing product that the company also sells separately, as well as a mini-ball. The setup makes it possible to place it in several different configurations.

How it works




AppleInsider played around with the ChargeDock for two days, setting it up both on a desktop and in the car. It does the job, but is far from the best product of its kind.

The ChargeDock looks good. The parts are quality, nothing falls apart, and the charger actually charges -- but all this is a low bar to hurdle. For the in-car use especially, the ChargeDock is an improvement over just leaving the iPhone on the seat.

The setup also leaves the camera open, allowing the user to use the phone as a dashcam. I drove around for about 40 minutes, and my iPhone stayed in place the entire time, even with sudden stops.

On the other hand




As for the bad? The ChargeDock doesn't run on the Qi standard, so there's no wireless charging. Dealing with a tiny metal plate that has be repeatedly removed -- and will be incredibly easy to lose -- is no one's idea of convenient, and leaving it in the case interferes with Qi once out of the car.




Worse than that, the device simply doesn't work with heavier and thicker cases. I tried it with a few different durable cases -- including two different models of Spigen Tough Armor cases -- and neither reached down far enough to charge properly, so I needed to use it case-free. Also, if you're using a pre-iPhone 7 model, the set-up doesn't allow access to the headphone jack at all, which is bad news for those who use their auxiliary cord in the car.

Functional as the product is on the outside, the need for magnets and the lack of Qi functionality, plus a lack of access to the headphone jack, make the ChargeDock less than the sum of its parts.

2.5 out of 5

The device works fine for what it does, especially in the car, but for your charging needs, you may be better-advised to check out a Qi-enabled charger for a newer phone, or one that allows access to the headphone jack on older iPhones, of which there are several on the market.

Where to buy

The ChargeDock isn't on the market yet; it's actually being introduced through an Indiegogo campaign that's meant to support its upcoming launch. That campaign, though, seems unlikely to succeed, as it has only raised $109 to date, out of a "flexible" goal of $10,000, with its April 14 deadline just under a week away.





Any user can get the ChargeDock by contributing either $30 or $40 to the Indiegogo campaign; $60 will get you the dock plus a T-Shirt with the company logo.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 578editor
    2.5 seems borderline-generous.

    Car mounts are one of these things that are simultaneously both perfected years ago, and yet so much imperfection persists, like this.

    I don't have a problem with magnetic mounts. The Scosche Magic Mount, Nite-Ize Steelie, and Pure-Gear.com universal magnetic car mount are the best of breed. All of them do suction cup or vent mount, as well as a few that mount with 3M VHB tape to the dash. Logitech OneDrive is also in this category.

    True, they don't include the lightning port - but the advantage is, when you don't include the lightning port, every case works.

    The other variety are the vent mount that have spring loaded side clips. Kenu AirFrame, Belkin, etc. CD Mount, I'd say iOttie. I keep a Kenu AirFrame+ in my travel bag for use in rental cars. It's small, and does the trick for travel.

    I think dinging this unit for lack of Qi is a bit silly. Qi is convenient if you're doing short drives and can't be bothered to plug in, but if you're in-car for a longer drive, Qi is a sub-par option. Qi charges slower, and over time, it harms the battery's longevity.

    edited April 8 Alex1N
  • Reply 2 of 8
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 578editor
     Dealing with a tiny metal plate that has be repeatedly removed
    You're not supposed to remove the metal plate. You're supposed to leave it in the case with your phone when you use a mount like this. Or, get a case that has the metal plate integrated (Evutec.) 
  • Reply 3 of 8
    vmarks said:
     Dealing with a tiny metal plate that has be repeatedly removed
    You're not supposed to remove the metal plate. You're supposed to leave it in the case with your phone when you use a mount like this. Or, get a case that has the metal plate integrated (Evutec.) 
    Except if you leave the metal plate in place, then you can't use wireless charging. (The plate interferes.) ... not a big deal if you don't use wireless, but a very big deal if you use wireless at home, and want something like this for the car.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 8
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,479member
    No air vent mount?  No Qi? No thanks. 
  • Reply 5 of 8
    vmarksvmarks Posts: 578editor
    vmarks said:
     Dealing with a tiny metal plate that has be repeatedly removed
    You're not supposed to remove the metal plate. You're supposed to leave it in the case with your phone when you use a mount like this. Or, get a case that has the metal plate integrated (Evutec.) 
    Except if you leave the metal plate in place, then you can't use wireless charging. (The plate interferes.) ... not a big deal if you don't use wireless, but a very big deal if you use wireless at home, and want something like this for the car.
    Right - if you bought this mount and decided to use it, you'd leave the plate in. That's going to be a problem for all the magnetic mount systems I named above. Everything is tradeoffs, whether it's magnetic car mounts, or wireless charging.


    Alex1N
  • Reply 6 of 8
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 16,891member
    What a monstrosity.  
  • Reply 7 of 8
    wlymwlym Posts: 54member
    The ugly logo and ugly packaging make this ugly dock a little less ugly by comparison. Other than that, it's still ugly.
  • Reply 8 of 8
    I've had the Pitaka magmount QI for over 5 months now, so i don't know how these guys can say they are  first.  This solution is a lot more elegant, can be suction cup mounted or held in place thru the CD player.  This charge dock thing is ugly as hell.
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