You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Practical Wireless Charging For Your iPhone

Forbes logo Forbes 22-07-2015 Ewan Spence, Contributor

If there’s one thing I’m looking for in every new phone, it’s wireless charging. Maybe in September the new Apple handsets will join handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S6 with a wire-free power solution. Until then, wireless charging for the iPhone remains the domain of the third-party case manufacturers. I’ve been testing Supapowa’s Ultra-slimline Wireless Charging Receiver Case, and while it’s not perfect, it solves may of the issues around using wireless charging with Apple’s smartphone.

Supapowa Ultra Slimline Wireless Case for iPhone (image: Ewan Spence)© Provided by Forbes Supapowa Ultra Slimline Wireless Case for iPhone (image: Ewan Spence)

Like all wireless charging, the basic use case is a simple one. Embedded in the back of the case are coils of wire that act as a receiving unit. When these are brought into close proximity to a similar set of coils that have an electrical charging passing through them (the transmitting coils), a charge will also flow through the receiving unit thanks to induction and into an electrical charging circuit. In practice the transmitting coils are in a stand or pad and you just need to drop your wireless charing unit onto the pad.

(How it works: wireless charging).

In the case of the iPhone, with no built-in wireless charging receiver or any ports dedicated to charing the battery, peripheral designers have to get that charge from the receiver into the lightning port of the host iPhone. This results in a bit of a design challenge. Supapowa’s solution keeps the size of the case as small as possible, but it does require some confidence from the user in terms of reliability

Inside the case is an L-shaped piece of metal at the end of a ribbon connector. One end is the lightning connector, the other end is a slightly larger cover plate that will let you ease out the connector to get access to the port. This is important as the Supapowa case has no through-connector to support wired charging or a data connection.

Supapowa Ultra Slimline Wireless Case for iPhone (image: Ewan Spence)© Provided by Forbes Supapowa Ultra Slimline Wireless Case for iPhone (image: Ewan Spence)

This does answer the question I have about syncing a wireless charging capable iPhone to a desktop computer. With other wireless charging cases I have used, the smartphone has to be completely removed from the case. Not here, it is a simple matter to pop the connector out and put the data cable in while the phone stays in the case. It does mean that the reliability of the ribbon connector is uppermost in my mind. The cable is reinforced and expected to last for thousands of removals. Given that I’ve perhaps removed the connector maybe ten to fifteen times this month, that’s a lot of longevity.

The great thing about wireless charging is that it simply works. As long as you get the right standard (in this case Qi) then the charger and receiver should be interchangeable. That’s the case with Supapowa which worked flawlessly with the charging pads I tested it with. Charging rates were similar to other solutions used with the iPhone 6.

To help in charging, the case has a blue LED built-in that lights up when charing is going on – a good visual clue that the coils are all lined up. Because of the design this glow can be seen on the left of the case, and the perfectionist in me would have preferred this to be more central. Sometimes the smallest aesthetic details matter, even if the functionality is not affected.

Supapowa Ultra Slimline Wireless Case for iPhone (image: Ewan Spence)© Provided by Forbes Supapowa Ultra Slimline Wireless Case for iPhone (image: Ewan Spence)

As a case, I’m pretty pleased with what Supapowa has done. This is a silicon bathtub design, which you push the iPhone into. The sides of the case reach around the curved edges of the iPhone 6 to hold the case and the iPhone together. On the side there’s a cutout for the mute switch, and the volume and power keys have raised plastic areas that allow you to press those buttons through the case. There are cutouts for the camera lens, headphone jack and speaker. The goal has been to keep the iPhone as much an iPhone as possible, so there are no extra curves or bumps on the case. If you were to add a few millimeters to the iPhone 6, this is the shape you would get.

This goes for the colour scheme and back design as well. My silver case matches the rear colouring of the iPhone, with a metallic look where the plastic in the rear case would normally show through. At first glance this could be mistaken for a naked iPhone (albeit one with the Supapowa logo on the bottom half).

Supapowa Ultra Slimline Wireless Case for iPhone (image: Ewan Spence)© Provided by Forbes Supapowa Ultra Slimline Wireless Case for iPhone (image: Ewan Spence)

The extra width, coupled with the silicon feel, actually makes the iPhone much more stable in my hand, and I can get a better grip on the sides of the handset. Convenient charging, protection from knocks and scrapes, and a more secure smartphone? What’s not to like!

I’ve still to find the perfect wireless charging solution for the iPhone. Until Apple builds wireless charging into an iPhone I suspect I never will… and when they do, I have to hope they go with one of the wireless charging standards for peripheral compatibility. While I wait for that to happen, I’ve been looking at a lot of options, and Supapowa’s slimline case is one of the better solutions. The charging performance is on a par with other cases, it does not significantly add to the bulk of the iPhone, and the solution to the issue of access to wired data connectivity is one that I can appreciate.

Disclaimer: Supapowa supplied one of its Ultra-slimline Wireless Charging Receiver Case for review purposes.

More From Forbes

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon