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The pad

I ordered the GMYLE Power Qi wireless charging pad from Amazon on a Sunday, and it arrived on the next Saturday, even though it wasn’t expected until the following Tuesday. The box was mostly void of any useful information.

So what was my first impression?

Box Info

This is a smaller-than-expected device. It is thin and smooth, with slightly beveled edges. It also does not look like the pictures on Amazon, as the one I received is flat, with no rise at the LED. The pad is about the size of a large-ish smartphone, and the LED glows a soft green when the pad is plugged in – this changes to blue when you set a device on it to charge. There is also a beep from the pad to indicate charging, and my particular phone also sounds when charging starts. The pad beep is not at all loud, and the green light is always on, even when not in use.

Charging screen

Above, you see the phone is on the pad. Charging is indicated by the blue light on the pad, and the battery icon in the notification bar.

This was actually a birthday present for my wife, for use with her Nokia 820. I also bought the OEM Qi-enabled back cover for her phone. The back cover itself looks and feels slightly more premium than the original back cover, and is slightly less smooth and less slippery than the original. The camera hole is pleasantly more rounded, and it also has a faint gold tone Nokia logo on the bottom. Inside is displayed “Wireless charging,” and it has an extra four contacts to mate with the phone. Overall, it looks very nice.

2 Shells

Above, the wireless charging shell is on the phone. The original shell is next to it.

3 shot

In this picture, the wireless shell is on the left, and you can see the writing inside that says, “Qi Wireless Charging.” Notice the row of four contacts to mate with the phone in the lower end. The battery has it’s own contacts, and the shell on the right is the original.

My wife is using a faux leather wallet case that has a hard plastic shell that her phone snaps into. That makes two layers between the phone and the Qi pad. I was worried we would have to remove the case, but alas, I can put the phone in the case down on top of the pad, and it will start charging almost immediately. Interestingly, the belt loop in the photo below causes the phone to lift off the pad even more; if you look closely, you can see the gap below.

Case pad gap

I expect QI wireless charging will work through most non metal cell phone cases. However, I don’t know if a magnet in the case would cause any problem.

At the moment I do not have precise charging time stats. The pad light seems to turn green in just a couple hours. However, last night I charged my N820 using my wife’s Qi enabled back, with no case. When I checked about two and a half hours later, the phone was quite hot and at 100%, but the light was still blue. Therefore, it seems that there might be a slight overcharging risk!

I want to build a Qi-enabled car dock. My alternate motive in buying this “cheap” pad was to look at the construction to see how to incorporate the internals into a dock – i.e. do I mount my clamps to the pad, or do I strip the internals? So, before my wife got home, I opened the pad, before I even checked to see if it worked. There are four self adhesive feet on the bottom of the pad. Removing them reveals Philips head screws. Then, it’s just a matter of removing the screws and unsnapping the casing.

There was one loose piece of plastic – this is the LED diffuser – and it is easy to put back in place. The coil itself is in the center of the pad. The circuit board is about the same size as the coil pad and the last 1/3 of the casing is empty, except for the power connector.

Pad open

The power comes from a round plug, maybe 1.5mm. I expect this could be easily replaced to match whatever connector you want to use, or even hardwired into place.

My next step is to purchase another “cheap” pad to build with, as my wife will not give up her new pad. I don’t blame her, as the microUSB connectors do not last forever. The convenience of simply dropping the device on a pad without invading the internals could very well extend the life of any device, or even renew a device with a broken charging port.

The pad itself was $25.98 from Amazon, with free shipping. [Editor's note: It's currently $31.29.] The OEM Qi-enabled back was $25.00 from AT&T – in sum, a $50 investment to support wireless charging.

Update: Sometimes after the phone has been on the pad for about four hours, the pad starts to beep. I usually lift it off the pad by the second beep, and the pad light is still blue. Today I let it go to the third beep, and the light was green. I still have not caught the light changing, but I will try harder to notice next time. I assumed that the phone was heating up due to the inductive charging action, but now I wonder if it is trying to overcharge and, if so, what does that mean for the life of the battery or the device itself? For this reason alone, I give this pad three stars.