I didn’t find any Black Friday deals that interested me. We just don’t care to fight the crowds for mediocre sales (or cheap equipment being sold at what I consider to be the most appropriate price). In the end, we didn’t hit up any stores until after 6 pm that Friday.
While going through Wal-Mart I did find one item that I ended up purchasing, though it was in the regular clearance isle. At a reduced price was an (unopened) iPhone 4 PowerMat Wireless Charging System. I’ve been considering the PowerMat system for a while but the prices usually put me off. I wasn’t going to assume it was a deal just because it was marked as a clearance item so I whipped out the iPhone and checked the current price on Amazon. The Amazon price was about $8 higher. The Wal-Mart price was $30, which seemed reasonable so I bought it.
I’ve only had the kit for a couple of weeks but so far I’ve been happy with it. Just as with the battery cases I’ve tried, this one effectively replaces the awkward Apple docking port with a micro-USB adapter.
The iPhone case seems to charge without any issues when set in the charging cradle, which sits next to our bed. It can get a little warm but no warmer than I’ve experienced with the battery cases while charging the phone. It charges quickly – probably at least as quickly as with a sync cable. When I’m away from home I can simply plug it into a micro-USB cable and power adapter (or my Monoprice batttery pack).
Some owners have complained in reviews that it seems to actually suck power from the iPhone itself. I haven’t experienced this. My iPhone battery doesn’t hold a charge as well as it used to anyway and it’s always important to ensure that too many apps aren’t running in the background (despite Apple’s claims) and that any apps constantly using GPS location services aren’t running (the main reason I don’t use location-based Reminders).
The charging cradle does have one property that I consider very annoying and I wish I could disable it. Whenever the phone is placed into the cradle it makes an annoying, loud sound. The same thing occurs when the phone is removed from the cradle. I’m tempted to find the speaker and disconnect it but I’m worried I’ll damage the charger.
It has another feature that some have complained about, but it’s one that can easily be rectified with a piece of black electrical tape, which is a solution I commonly use for bright LEDs in our bedroom. Simply tape a piece over the LED to block the light.
The iPhone charging case is rather light and nowhere near as bulky or heavy as the battery cases I’ve used in the past.
Overall this seems to be a good buy. As usual, I’ll post any changes to this page.
Updated 01/24/2013: I haven’t had any problems with the charging cradle itself but the charging case has developed a significant issue in the past few days. Unfortunately, I seem to have bad luck with iPhone cases that offer micro-USB charging ports. Though the USB port (for charging the phone without the cradle) doesn’t seem to be loose it’s clearly developed a problem. Frequently, after plugging a USB cable in to charge, it will quickly stop charging and show a message that my phone cannot be charged by this accessory.
This is obviously incorrect. I can move the cable slightly and it will charge just fine if I don’t touch it. I’m disappointed that it has this problem but I’ve ordered another PowerMat charging case for the iPhone 4. It’s a slightly different model so I’m hoping it will hold up better. This issue aside, I’m still very pleased with the PowerMat system overall.
Updated 02/04/2013: I’ve purchased a new PowerMat charging case for my iPhone. Time will tell whether or not the new case has a better micro-USB port but the case itself seems more solid than the old one. It fits into the PowerMat charger though it doesn’t seem to be a perfect fit (but so far it seems to charge fine).
Updated 07/18/2013: I’ve moved on to an iPhone 5 so I’m no longer able to use this charging set. I gave it to a friend. Now I have a different Powermat case that I’m using with the iPhone 5 and my two-position charging mat.