S6 wireless charging pad review

Having given a little bit of background to wireless charging technology, it’s now time for me to review Samsung’s wireless charging pad.

The Good

Galaxy S6 wireless charging

My Samsung Galaxy S6 wirelessly charging on the S6 Qi charging pad

So what’s good about Samsung’s wireless charging pad? It’s a wireless charging pad! It can wirelessly charge your phone!!!!! Providing it’s an S6 of course.

The proximity of the sensor is pretty good, you get the best (fastest) charge by putting the phone – without a case – centrally on the pad. That said, my phone charges perfectly well when it’s in its case, and you can lift it up about an inch in the air, and it will still charge – just a little slower.

The pad is reasonably small and very well designed. Being plastic, it doesn’t have the same quality feel to it that the S6 itself has, but it is still aesthetically pleasing, lighting up blue when your phone is charging, and green when it hits 100% – just like the LED on the S6 does.

The pad has a safety feature built in to stop overcharging, meaning that once your phone hits 100% charge (some people report this is closer to 90%, but for me it’s been 100%) then it stops emitting power.

When I’m at my desk, my phone sits next to me, so I’ve just got it resting on the pad now instead. I can still pick it up and use it as frequently as I like, without damaging the pad or the battery.

It couldn’t be simpler to use, it really is as easy and placing your phone on the pad and so long as its reasonably central, it will charge.

The Not-So-Good

My first S6 charging pad shock came when I realised it doesn’t come with any leads. ‘It’s wireless charging, why do you want leads?‘ you may be shouting, but unless it were battery powered (which it isn’t, because wireless charging is too inefficient to make a battery powered version effective) you need to plug the pad into a power source.

Wireless charging pad fully charged

The S6 on Samsung’s Qi charging pad, showing the green, fully charged lights

Samsung’s recommended retail price for the pad is £40 GBP (or a slightly cheaper $50 USD in the States) and yet that doesn’t include a mains plug, or a micro USB charger. The only other thing that comes in the box is a hefty multi-language instruction leaflet, reminding you not to throw the pad off a cliff, strike it with a hammer or take it for a swim. I’d rather they’d saved the paper personally.

Being wireless, the pad doesn’t charge as fast as a wired connection, and is nowhere near the speed of a fast charger. For some people this is a major gripe, but it doesn’t really bother me. I know that it’s going to charge slower, but it’s also going to be more convenient to use. If my phone’s nearly dead and I’m going out in an hour, I’ll turn it off, plug it into a fast charger and I know that by the time I go out, it’ll be pretty much fully charged. If however my phone is nearly dead, but I’m at my desk all day, I’ll leave it switched on and on the pad, knowing that if I need to use it at any point, I can simply lift it up, without having to fiddle with that annoying micro USB.

Something to be aware of is that you’ll probably need to plug the charging pad into a mains socket, rather than a USB port on your computer. I was hoping to power the pad from my PC, which the first time I used it seemed to work okay – it just charged a bit slower – however from then on it’s not managed to squeeze quite enough energy out of the USB port and down the wire into the pad. As a result the charger keeps disconnecting, meaning my phone keeps dinging and bonging to let me know that it’s charging, not-charging, charging, not-charging – you get the picture.

Is It Worth It?

So is Samsung’s wireless charging pad worth a purchase? Well that’s a tricky one to answer. If you have a phone which is wireless charging compatible, charging wirelessly is undoubtedly a useful feature. If money is no object for you, most certainly run out and get one – or get your butler to buy one for you online.

Had the pad included a mains power plug and a micro USB lead I would say yes. It is £40, but for that you get a ready to use wireless charging pad. The fact that for Samsung has chosen not to include a means to power the pad, means that I think this has to be more of an individual decision. I’m sitting on the fence on this one. A great product, it looks good and is convenient to use, but it’s under-accessorised and overpriced.

Finally, I must say a thanks to Mobile Fun who sent this S6 charger to us for review. We were discussing the review just after 5pm and the pad was delivered ready for the review by 11am the next day – that’s super fast delivery!

How does wireless charging work?

This is my two hundred and fiftieth (writing it out in full looks better than 250th) article on Technology Bloggers! It’s taken nearly four and a quarter years to get this far, but here I am, still blogging away. 🙂
That’s an average of 5 posts per month!

Not that anyone’s keeping score, but Jonny is hot on my heals now with 165 – just 85 behind me!

Finally, wireless charging on a mainstream mobile phone has arrived. Samsung’s Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and S6 Active all come wireless charging ready. Unfortunately we aren’t yet at the stage where your phone can wirelessly charge in your pocket, you do have to buy a wireless charging pad and have it sit on that, but it’s a step further than we have ever been before. This article gives an incite into the technology behind wireless charging, and then in my next article I’m going to review Samsung’s official wireless charging pad.

Wireless Charging Technology

Tesla coil wireless power

A Tesla Coil being used to wirelessly power a light bulb

The capability to power things wirelessly is not a new phenomenon. Way back in the late 1800s, Nikola Tesla was using his Tesla Coil to power things from across the room. You might have done a similar experiment in science lessons at school, using a Tesla Coil to light up a light bulb.

The reason it’s taken so long for wireless charging to become mass market is because compared to wired charging, it is hugely inefficient. Wireless charging wastes a lot of energy as heat, meaning less is used to actually power the device. Wireless charging also takes longer than wired power, and as such is much more expensive.

Plugging my phone (the Galaxy S6) into a standard micro USB port will charge it from flat in around 2 hours. Plugging it into a fast charger takes just over an hour for a full charge. Charging wirelessly from flat takes over 3 hours. That’s 3 hours of electricity being used, compared to 1 in a fast charger.

Wireless charging has also taken a while to become mainstream because of problems with proximity. Tesla could power a light bulb from across the room, but that wasn’t controllable. If he had 2 light bulbs and only wanted to power one, he had no way of stopping power reaching the other. With so many different devices and radio frequencies about today, it is essential that wireless charging works without interfering with any other signals – for example your mobiles 4G signal. As such wireless charging has a very low proximity range. My S6 quite literally has to be on or within an inch or two of the pad to charge. A range of 1 meter would be fantastic, however that could fry other bits of tech, or ruin the magnetic strip on my credit cards.

Despite over 100 years in the making, wireless charging is still in reasonable early stages of development. It is a great idea, and when it works, it is super convenient and very useful, but still has a long way to go.

If you want to find out more about how wireless charging works, I recommend this YouTube video as a good place to start.

Impact Shield – S6 screen protector review

On Monday I reviewed Tech21’s case for the Galaxy S6. Even the best cases leave the screen vulnerable to scratches and dirt, so to fully protect your phone, you need a good screen protector. Today I’m going to review Tech21’s Impact Shield screen protector for the Galaxy S6. Our thanks to Mobile Fun who provided the protector for this review.

Tech21 Impact Shield Screen Protector

Protection
Having use the Impact Shield screen protector for several years now, I’ve got a pretty good knowledge of the protection it gives. Whilst the screen protector itself does pick up scratches (which do very slowly fade with time) Tech21’s screen protector does a fantastic job of protecting the phone’s screen.

Over the course of 2 years, I replaced my screen protector twice, because it just collected too many scratches, however every time I pealed it off, the phone screen itself was fine. This newer version offers the same protection, just for the S6. The video below is made by Tech21 – it’s a drop test of a ball-bearing from six foot.

Application

Screen protector application widgetTech21 have added a useful widget to the pack to help you apply the screen protector. This widget (very snugly) slots over your phone, helping you to line up the screen protector to exactly where it needs to be.

Before you apply the screen protector you need to remove any dust from the screen. The microfibre cloth that comes in the packet is pretty bad, and just seemed to spread dust, rather than remove it. I ended up using a glasses cloth to give the screen a proper clean.

Once all the dust is off, you remove one layer of the screen protector, stick it to the phone and then use the cardboard provided (also not very useful) to remove any bubbles, before removing the upper layer. Then you’re done; screen protector applied!

Clarity and Use

There is no noticeable difference in the quality of the display once the screen protector has been applied. Some screen protectors make the screen look fuzzy or distorted, however Tech21’s does not. I have noticed that when using the screen with the protector applied, there is slightly more friction between my figure and the phone, meaning it doesn’t glide as smoothly across as it would otherwise. You do get used to it however.

Price

The Impact Shield screen protector currently costs £25, which is to the higher end of the price spectrum.

Rating

The Impact Shield does its job well: protects the screen without compromising on clarity or usability. The level of protection it provides is great, but I’m not sure the regular user would really need it very often. The self-heal feature is good to have, but it doesn’t work quite as well as you might hope or expect.

Four StarUltimately taking into account the competition and Impact Shield’s relative price and protection, I’m going to rate it a generous 4 stars.

FlexShock protection for the Galaxy S6

Two years ago I reviewed Tech21’s Impact Mesh case for the Galaxy S4 Mini. Tech21 are now using a new material called FlexShock, so having recently started using a Galaxy S6, I thought it would be appropriate to review Tech21’s latest Evo Check case for Samsung’s Galaxy S6.

Tech21 Evo Check Case

Protection
The main reason I use a case is to protect my device. Primarily from knocks and drops, but also from scratches, dirt and dust. The size of the S6 means that depending upon what you’re wearing, it wont always fit snugly in your pocket. This inevitably means that every so often it will fall out, at which point I will usually scrabble and scramble to try and catch it, but if I’m unsuccessful, I need to know the phone will be safe.

The S6, with its Gorilla Glass and aluminium casing, seems to be pretty resilient by itself. It would appear you can use an S6 to crack walnuts open with no ill effects, and this drop test video demonstrates the S6 (Edge) is a pretty tough cookie. WARNING: for S6 owners, this is a heart-in-mouth kind of video!

So how much protection does Tech21’s case provide? Well the answer is quite a lot. The case has a slight lip on the front meaning that even if dropped face down on a flat surface, neither the screen nor the home button would touch the ground – the case would absorb the impact.

My main concern when I first looked at the S6 was that the rear camera protrudes, meaning that it would be the first thing to contact during an impact. The case has a slightly raised rim around the camera, meaning that the camera is now recessed by about 0.5mm – giving it some much needed protection.

Tech21 have ditched the D3O which they had previously been famous for using, in favour of FlexShock. This new material they claim does the same job as D3O – absorbing the impact – whilst it can be moulded into better shock absorbing shapes and it can be dyed different colours. FlexShock seems just as hardy as D3O – but with added flexibility and customisation.

Design

Galaxy S6 FlexShock caseI really like the metal and glass construct of the Galaxy S6, so for me it’s not about getting a snazzy case to conceal an ugly phone. The Evo Case is very minimalistic and whilst it does cover five sides of the phone (the top, both sides, the bottom and the back) it still gives the S6 a little room to showcase its looks. The beauty of FlexShock is that it can be styled in different colours. As such, I’ve gone for a smooth white, to match my white S6. It is obvious that I am using a case, and I have lost that plush glass feeling but as cases go, aesthetically the Evo Check does a pretty good job.

A good case has to give clean access to all the phone’s ports and sensors. The Evo Check case does this well, there is ample room around the speaker, power port, lower microphone and the headphone socket. On the top the infrared sensor and higher microphone are also able to operate without interference. The camera has plenty of room around it, as does the flash, and you can use the heart rate monitor without removing the phone from the case. You do have to remove the phone to get to the SIM-card socket, but who does that on a regular basis anyway?

White Tech21 S6 caseThe buttons (volume up/down and power) are covered, and to activate them you do need to press them firmly. I personally like this, as it gives the phone a quality feel and it prevents you from accidentally pressing them too. That said, (from watching endless YouTube reviews) I do know that some users would prefer the buttons to be uncovered, and dislike having to push them hard to get anything to happen.

Price

The Evo Check case is currently priced around £30, which is fairly mid-range (cheaper than many of Samsung’s own cases) considering (in terms of protection) it is a pretty high end product.

Rating

I’m a big fan of Tech21’s Evo Check case for the Galaxy S6. It covers the phone well, without obstructing any of the ports or sensors. It also looks great, even if it doesn’t feel as good as metal and glass.

Four and a Half StarThe protection it offers is hard to rival, especially amongst cases with a similar price tags, so I’m rating the Evo Case with FlexShock protection 4 and a half stars.

Our thanks to Mobile Fun – the mobile accessories experts – for providing the case for this review. If you want to find out more or buy one of your own, check out Tech21’s S6 case on their website.