While wireless charging came embedded into phones like the Palm Pre, most phones including the iPhone 4 still rely on an old good wired connection for charging. Maybe most people aren’t willing to pay an extra for the convenience, but let’s face it, sometime we’re all a little lazy and taking those extra 3 seconds to connect our phone might be just a little too much to deal with. That’s why PowerMat has created that jacket and wireless charger for iPhone 4 (and other devices). The jacket connects to the iPhone 4 using the standard 30-pin connector, and after you put it on, you just need to drop the phone on the associated “Mat” to initiate a charge. No cable connection needed.
We tried it, and it pretty much worked as expected. It does make the phone bigger, but the iPhone 4 is so thin that you still end up with a reasonably sized smartphone. The jacket even adds a micro-USB port that you can use for charging.
However, the computer does not recognize the iPhone as a “synchronizable” device when using the jacket’s USB’s port. You also need to drop the iPhone with a particular orientation or it won’t charge: it would have been better to place this at the center to make it error-proof… also, if you previously owned a PowerMat, we’ve got it to work with the iPhone 3GS, so we’re assuming that it might work with other models as well.
Update: the lack of sync was due to my USB cable. It is possible to sync with and charge with a USB cable, so there’s no need to remove the jacket.
Ideally, the wireless charging system should be built into the batteries and we would only need to buy the Mats. The technology exists, and people know how to build them, but we guess that the economics don’t quite work at the moment for the industry. That’s why PowerMat is still mainly providing jackets+pads.
In the end, this is handy if you’re OK with having a bigger iPhone 4. In return, you’ll save a few seconds (and increase the charging odds) each time you put your phone to charge. Around $50 at PowerMat.