Qi Wireless Chargers

Now that my wife and I have both upgraded to iPhone X, I've replaced some of our iPhone docks with Qi wireless chargers. I was curious to see how different chargers compare, so I bought three different models:

Qi chargers

Each charger is WPC compliant, does the same basic job of wirelessly charging a device1, and is priced under $25.

A common complaint about wireless chargers is that a power adapter isn't always provided, just a USB cable. Honestly, I'm fine with that. I have a drawer full of unused USB power adapters and I'm sure most people buying these types of chargers do as well. All of these unused adapters will eventually end up as electronic waste on a landfill somewhere, so I'd much rather use one of the many spares I have.

Samsung

The Samsung charger is currently the top pick over at The Wirecutter. It looks good in comparison to most of the chargers available and, unsurprisingly, has the best build quality of the three. It's also the only one that came with a USB power adapter. We're using this in our living room as a communal charger.

There is an LED light at the front that glows blue when a phone is on charge and there's no way to turn it off. The Wirecutter reports that it's probably a dealbreaker for use anywhere other than a desk, something Stephen Hackett agrees with. I don't find the light to be particularly bright but if this is something that would disturb your sleep, you may want to skip it as a nightstand charger.

Yoobao

The Yoobao is noticeably smaller than the other two. It actually seems almost too small when used with something like iPhone X. It's stable enough and the grip keeps the phone in place, but I wouldn't recommend it for iPhone 8 Plus owners. I use this charger on my nightstand.

The finish is inferior to the Samsung charger and the plastic material feels rather cheap. There is an LED light that's permanently illuminated which changes color from red to blue when a phone is on charge. It's very bright but focused, so as long as you point it away from you on a nightstand or cover it with a small piece of electrical tape, it won't be a disturbance.

CHOETECH

The CHOETECH charger is bigger than both the Yoobao and Samsung models. It does feels really cheap because it's quite large and light, but the build quality is pretty good and on par with the Yoobao. Like the Yoobao, it also has a bright but focused LED so you can simply point the charger away from you on a nightstand.

The grip on top (the gray wireless symbol) is pretty disappointing. While it does keep the phone in place, it's raised and has very little surface area in contact with the phone. This causes it to have a slight wobble. I'm not sure why the manufacturer thought this was a good idea because the actual surface is also rubberized, so there's no need for such a raised grip.

The blue version of this charger, however, doesn't have this problem as the wireless symbol appears to be inset, not raised. If you are considering this charger and don't mind the color, you may want to go for that one instead.

Final thoughts

Each of the chargers works exactly as intended and can charge through Apple silicone cases, so I don't feel compelled to return them to Amazon. I plan on ordering a fourth for the car, but will test each of these at the weekend first to see which works best.

If you're an iPhone 8 or iPhone X owner and on the fence about wireless charging, I suggest giving it a try. For $25, it's practically the same price as a Lightning cable from Apple and you'll likely find the convenience worth it.

It's worth mentioning that there really aren't any good looking chargers, just ones that aren't as ugly as others. Even the Samsung charger isn't that pretty, it just looks much better than the competition. As adoption among iPhone users increases, we'll hopefully see an improvement in the design of chargers.

  1. Unlike the other two, the Yoobao charger does support fast charging though it's not currently supported on the iPhone. A future iOS update will supposedly enable support for this.

Using iPhone X on a Flat Surface

Jason Snell, over at Six Colors, has written about his experience with the iPhone X during the past week. One use case where he felt the phone wasn't as usable as previous models was when trying to operate it while it lay flat on a table or desk:

Facing straight up, the Face ID camera can’t see me, so I can’t unlock my phone without leaning way over the table or picking the phone up. And attention detection can’t detect me, so after 30 seconds the screen dims.

I hadn’t realized how much I left an iPhone unlocked on a table for a minute or two. The iPhone X is more aggressive about locking the phone (and dimming the display), and Face ID is no help. I suppose in the end, the phone will train me—but right now it’s one of the areas where my old way of using my iPhone no longer seems to apply.

The iPhone X can be unlocked with a passcode instead of Face ID, but it's not obvious how to do it. To use a passcode, tap the screen to wake up the iPhone, swipe up on the Home bar, and tap Face ID.

Using a passcode instead of Face ID

I do this to unlock my iPhone while it's lay down flat on my desk.

The aggressive screen lock is something I ran into even when I unlock with a passcode. The default setting for Auto-Lock seems to be 30 seconds, so I've changed that to one minute and it's feels much more usable.

Pushy Notifications in Apple News

I like Apple News and it's the primary way I find out what fresh hell has engulfed the world. I follow quite a few channels and topics but am very strict on which can send me notifications. Right now, it's just one channel.

Unfortunately, Apple News has a frustrating behavior when it comes to push notifications that can rival some of the worst offenders of notification spam. At some point, Apple News will announce, by push notification, that it has enabled notifications for a channel.

pushy-notification.jpg

Rather than ask if I want to enable notifications for a particular channel, Apple News does so automatically—it doesn't even ask or tell you how to opt out. Worse still, there is no logic to when this happens. I've had this happen months after following a new channel, and even repeatedly occur even if I already turned off notifications.

Enabling notifications for channels without the user's explicit permission is extremely user-hostile and I can't understand the reason for it. I wouldn't mind a gentle nudge to ask if I want to receive notifications every now and again, but this method is far too heavy-handed.

Be Aware of the Updated Button Combinations for iPhone 8 and iPhone X

Apple has changed the button combinations for both Emergency SOS and a force restart on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. This gave me quite a fright when I needed to restart my iPhone X, only to trigger Emergency SOS by mistake.

On the iPhone 7 (and earlier), Emergency SOS is triggered by pressing the Power button five times. On the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, it's now triggered by holding down either Volume button and the Power button at the same time.

Sound familiar? The button combination to restart an iPhone 7 is holding down the Volume down button and Power buttons. Out of habit, that's what I did. At least I know how loud the siren is for Emergency SOS.

The button combination to restart an iPhone 8 or iPhone X is now a little more complicated, as Apple's support article on the subject explains:

On an iPhone X, iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus: Press and quickly release the Volume Up button. Press and quickly release the Volume Down button. Then, press and hold the Side button until you see the Apple logo.

New iPhone 8 and iPhone X owners, keep that in mind.

iPhone X Availability

I was initially undecided about buying an iPhone X, so I chose not to wake up at some ungodly hour to place a preorder. If and when I decided I wanted one, I was willing to wait several weeks until shipping times became more favorable and stock more plentiful.

I happened to check the Apple Store app earlier today and, while delivery times for all models were showing as 3-4 weeks, some models were available for same-day pickup at my local Apple Store (World Trade Center). I was able to buy and collect exact model I wanted (256GB Silver) this morning, the day after launch1. My wife even placed an order a couple hours later for a different model (256GB Black) and was still able to collect it this afternoon.

This isn't an isolated experience and I've heard about Apple Stores in different parts of the country all having decent stock levels. At the store I collected my phone from, I overheard a member of staff say that they had received so many iPhones for launch day that they didn't even sell them all—today's stock is mostly leftovers.

If you didn't preorder the iPhone X but want to get one soon, try your local Apple Store using the Apple Store app. It seems Apple is making a huge effort to keep stores well-stocked.

  1. Some people I know who did wake up to place a preorder still haven't received their phones.