Start by saying that the inclusion of “Charger” in the name of the PhoneSoap Charger doesn’t do it credit: what we are looking at is a sanitizing device for cell phones that just so happens to include a charging component. As it does an amplification one. But make no mistake in that the PhoneSoap’s main purpose is to take a cell phone and give it a good “wash” to remove detriment that the eye can’t see. And it does it well.
Anyone can relate to getting muck on their hands and wiping it off on their pants leg. But a cell phone is constantly being touched and then held against the face, with others using the phone and it being placed on surfaces ranging from home to office to coffee shop — “Germ City” could be another name for it (to paraphrase with apologies the Cars’ “Heartbeat City”). Wiping the face of the phone with a cloth might keep the view clean but sanitize, no. And so that’s where PhoneSoap comes in. You use it to clean the invisible muck in an efficient fashion.
The case opens like a clamshell, with both sides having a UV (ultraviolet) lamp encased within. The curved surfaces help to “wrap” the light around the phone that’s inside — a sensible bit of engineering. PhoneSoap’s size easily accommodates most cell phones, including “Phablet” sized (a template on the company’s website lets you compare your phone against the workable dimensions). A choice can be made at this time: to sanitize the phone only, place it inside face up and close the lid. Providing the AC power pack has been plugged in, a blue LED glow at the edge indicates that the lamps are lit (they automatically cease when the case is opened to prevent the chance of someone staring into the UV light which is not good to do). The entire procedure runs about 4 minutes and then the lights turn off. You then open the case and take back your phone.
So what’s the “Charger” in the name all about? Any phone can be charged while inside the case, once it has been connected to the built-in USB cable. Accessing the cable just requires pulling up and out a small section at one end of the PhoneSoap, which reveals the micro-USB cable. The cable gets power from the AC plug and so can transfer that to a phone while it lies in the case. Sensibly, this cable can be disconnected from the PhoneSoap and replaced with another should it be damaged or, more to the point, should it be an iPhone that’s being treated — since in that case a dock connector or Lightning connector cable will need to be attached.
The PhoneSoap also purports to be an acoustic audio amplifier: by this it means that a phone placed inside, with the lid closed will have its audio enhanced through the PhoneSoap’s shape as it exits out the included holes at the bottom. Realistically this does occur — it’s a function of physics how the sound is affected — but for practical purposes the audio is not increased enough to really make a difference. Carrying around the PhoneSoap for its cleanliness aspects to use on a trip, in a hotel or at a parents house makes sense, but doing this for how it makes a phone sounds, no. In fact, if you are carrying around the white version (there’s also the choice of black), you’re more likely to need to clean the PhoneSoap Charger, so it’s best to keep it at home and use it as part of a regular schedule, for example when it’s going to be charged before you head out for the day.
Bottom line: PhoneSoap’s company says that anything that will fit inside the case can be sanitized — that’s true. But using it with a phone is why it was designed, and what it does well and makes the $49.95 retail valid to pay. You don’t have to be paranoid about germs to play it safe. Before the PhoneSoap Charger, your phone’s state of health was up for grabs. Not any more.
UV sanitizing, iOS/Android compatible charging system
No locking mechanism for lid
Marshal Rosenthal is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and journalist specializing in technology, consumer electronics and pop culture.