Mini-review: The Nexus 4's Wireless Charging Orb

Or, perhaps more aptly: How Google's new charging dock changed my life.

I'm an early adopter, I have been ever since I took the plunge into the world of Android. I even paid way too [expletive] much for a Galaxy Nexus when it came out in the UK (I'm in the US). So, naturally, I was one of the first in the virtual line to get my Nexus 4. I've not been this happy with a phone since the original iPhone. Sad to say, I could never make it through a busy day with moderate-to-heavy usage on my Galaxy Nexus; but I can't remember leaving the house with a full charge in the morning and returning at a decent hour with a dead phone with the Nexus 4.

However, there's one issue I've had a few times, and it's not the phone's fault, really, it's mine: I forget to plug my phone in at night. A lot. I'm just a bit air-headed, I guess. Either that, or I'm a cable short and using the remaining cable for my Nexus 7 (which takes bloody forever to charge). Sure, I could just get more cables, but that still wouldn't solve my problem of forgetting to plug the phone in!

Enter the new wireless charging orb. I knew I wanted one ever since Matias showed it off to Josh Topolsky last year when we got our first glimpse at the N4 and N10. While the price was a little steep, I jumped at the opportunity last week to finally get one. I've now had it since Friday and it's made me a happy dude.

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Now, I had some reservations about the quality of the device when I ordered it. The specified mass was only 130g! That's really light. I didn't want something sliding around on my desk or falling over every time I tried to use or place my phone on it. Thankfully, in use, no problems arose. The orb will lift off of the desk when you pull the phone upwards to detach it, but this is simply overcome by pinching on the edges of the phone (and towards the surface of the orb) in order to help release the magnetic force before you remove the phone.

Both the bottom of the orb and the surface on which the phone rests are coated with rubber which means that once you place it somewhere, it stays there; no sliding off of the desk just because of the weight of the USB cable (I'm looking at you, USB hub). Overall, the device feels solid and the materials are nothing short of pre-mi-um.

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Oh, and another problem that the orb has solved: I no longer wonder where I set my phone down.

I know a lot of you, if you're like me, are curious as to how the charger performs as, well, a charger. I'm here to quench your fears: it works phenomenally. Now, I'm not saying it charges faster than an old-fashioned USB cable directly connected to the phone, but it's definitely close if it isn't (for reference, I am using the AC/USB power adapter packaged with the orb for the orb, and comparing it to a USB cable powered by a 1A USB adapter).

The phone happens to sit pretty nicely on the orb after figuring out the best placement (for my preference). At first, I tried to line up the middle of the phone with the middle of the charging orb's surface. While this works absolutely fine, it looks a little strange with the bottom of the phone only about 1mm off the surface of my desk. Moving the phone up by about 1cm or so looks, in my opinion, better, and there is no adverse affect on charging capability. Using the phone once it's attached is actually quite nice. The angle at which the phone sits is just about perfect for resting your arm/wrist on the desk and letting your fingers glide across the screen. Did I mention that the speakerphone works great? Now I can hear the person and see my screen at the same time.

Overall, I'm just really happy with the product and I no longer forget to charge the phone at night because I take every available opportunity to use the orb because it's just so cool. I recommend getting it to anybody who was on the fence; hurry up and finish jumping over.

Update: Some of you asked if you thought this would work with other phones. While I don't have any other phones which take advantage of the Qi charging standard, I did plop down a few of my older phones onto the orb to see if they'd stay put without magnets. The conclusion: definitely.


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