Surprisingly the wireless charging market has not been over saturated. Palm made big news two years ago when they announced the Palm PRE, a phone that included its very own inductive charging system. This past year, at CES, Case-mate introduced their HUG case and charger for the iPhone. It accomplishes the same feat at Powermat‘s solution, but is built specifically for the iPhone, though other cases are due.
I could sit here and talk about build quality and aesthetics, but there is one elephant in the room: does the Hug effectively charge the iPhone? Not really. In my testing, against the Powermat, the Case-mate Hug took more than 3o minutes longer to charge my iPhone from a completely dead battery to a full charge.
In both testing instances I drained my iPhone 3Gs’ battery to the point where the iPhone would no longer power up. I then attached the case and placed it on the included charging stand. I immediately snapped my first pic, which as you can see is time coded for proof. Additionally, once the phone powered on you can see the time of day, which doubles as credibility to the amount of time the iPhone took to charge on both platforms.
- Start time: 1:19PM
- End Time: 4:09
- Total time: 2:50
- Star time: 9:19pm
- End Time: 11:39pm
- Total Time: 2:20
I’m not sure why the Case-mate took longer, but since it costs less and it isn’t their core business I can only assume that the components used are cheaper. But, keep in mind that since Case-mate is part of the wireless power consortium, the Hug and the mat should be compatible with other products and manufactures that have joined this group. Ostensibly, airports, coffee shops and more could adopt the same technology and then just by placing your phone onto a Hug compatible table/charger you could charge your device on the go without having to pull out a cord.
Pocket wise the Hug is a little bulky for my liking. For that reason I didn’t keep the case on my iPhone unless I was charging it. The bottom piece fixes to the phone by itself, though the top piece, a small piece of plastic completes the aesthetic and snaps into the bottom piece to form a complete case. The top piece felt a bit flimsy and I got the feeling it could snap during one wrong insert (and it’s probably easy to lose).
Until Apple and other manufacturers build this functionality into the phone itself (like Palm) the convenience is very minimal (Powermat recently introduced a set of batteries that are compatible with their system). And even then you still have to place the phone or device onto a physical mat, something that many will find is not all that convenient. The Case-mate Hug all but completely failed me, and at an almost 4 hour charge time it might as well have.
Note: The Case-mate test is shown with just 3G connectivity while the Powermat test with WiFi. While a 3G only signal draws more power it shouldn’t cause such a vast difference in charge times, so I’d say the point is moot.
- Part of Wireless Power Consortium
- Lower price than competition
- Protective case
- Took almost 3 hours for a complete charge
- Top piece of case is flimsy
- Case is so bulky defeats iPhone slimness
Update: There is something wrong with the time lapse sequence – it’s cutting off the last frame so you can’t see the final and complete charge time.