By Richard Comerford, Editor
Before the iPhone 5 was introduced, many were expecting that it would have the capability of being recharged wirelessly. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
While plugging in a phone to recharge it, or connect it to a laptop to swap data, isn’t the worst thing in the world, it is something of a nuisance. I don’t know how many times I’ve thoughtlessly grabbed my iPhone only to have the cord get tangled in something, or sweep an object on my nightstand onto the floor. Like I said, not earth-shattering, but definitely annoying.
A couple of months ago, I heard about a new magnet charging system called Magnetyze from BuQu Tech of Camarillo, CA. Rather than having to plug in a charging cable, the charging system lets users simply place their phone over a charging stand or cable, and the charger will attach itself magnetically to the phone. Lift the phone, and it’s free of the stand, or pull on the cable, and the phone’s free. Simple and convenient.
To be clear, the Magnetyze system doesn’t work by inductive, RF charging, but by conductive, electrical-contact charging. That means your phone will charge faster, because power can be delivered more efficiently by conduction. Yet, because you don’t have to force two plugs together for the system to work, Magnetyze provides both the simplicity of inductive and the efficiency of conductive charging.
The company was kind enough to send me an early model for the iPhone for testing, so here’s my experience using it. BuQu Tech will also offer the system for other phones in the near future, but the operating principles are the same.
The basic Magnetyze system consists of five parts: a stand with (detachable) USB cable, separate USB cable with magnetic connector, two-piece iPhone case, and an plug-in ac-to-dc USB converter (see Fig. 1). The iPhone slips into the case body such that the connector on the bottom of the phone mates with a connector on the case body (Fig.2). Then the retaining ring is slipped on to hold the phone in place.
Once the case is on, the data/charging connector for the phone becomes the magnetic “target” on the back of the case body. When you hold the phone close to the stand or the cable, the phone connector aligns and pulls itself into contact (Fig. 3). It’s a fast and foolproof connection.
You can set the phone on the Magnetyze stand so that it’s in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) mode, and pivot the phone from one mode to the other without detaching it. I’ve found the stand – which is solidly made and heavy enough to be very stable — to be really useful; I usually keep it on my nightstand, where I use it not only for nighttime recharging, but to display an alarm-clock app that wakes me with whatever music I choose from my iPhone library. Having it on the stand means I can see the time without having to pick up the phone. At other times, I’ll move it to my work desk where I can watch an instructional video while I perform some task (Fig. 4), or simply make video calls hands free.
The cable, on the other hand, is perfect for when I’m traveling. Since the iPhone is my GPS system, I plug the phone in while I’m driving and listen to the directions it gives me. I already had a phone holder when I received the demo unit, so all I needed was the cable, but in the near future BuQu Tech is also going to be offering a car stand/charger that is more elegant and convenient than my jury-rigged system. Obviously, this configuration is great for hands-free phoning with Siri as well as navigation.
Since I received the product in mid-September I’ve used it almost constantly; before recommending the Magnetyze system, I wanted to be certain there were no effects on phone performance due to exposure to a nearby magnetic field. The company states that: “We have invested a tremendous amount of research in balancing the need for a robust magnetic connection while avoiding any interference with phone functionality.” I’m happy to report that their research paid off; there was absolutely no effect on my phone whatsoever.
Another nice surprise is the price. The basic Magnetyze system is available directly from BuQu Tech for just $69.99. I’m thinking that it will make a fine stocking-stuffer for all those iPhone junkies on my list.
Oh, and just as I was about to publish this piece, I learned that BuQu has been named an International CES Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Awards Honoree for Magnetyze.