Wireless charging is bogus — it should be called wire-free charging because the whole idea is to free the smartphone from having to be physically attached to a cable. Patriot Memory’s FUEL iON Case for iPhone 5/5S does just that for an iPhone 5. I found it necessary to readjust my thinking as to how to use it, but am glad I did.
The FUEL iON Case for iPhone 5/5S consists of two “parts”, with the first being a case that the iPhone goes into. As expected, it has a Lightening connector inside the bottom to mate with the similar-based slot at the iPhone’s bottom. The Lighting connector itself is firmly embedded in the case so a bit of care must be taken to line everything up correctly before pushing down. The case itself is unremarkable to the eye: there are cutouts for the camera on the back and an open air design at the top and sides for accessing the controls. There is no front sled to put over the iPhone once it’s inserted — it holds in place by friction since the case is of a rigid, rubbery-like material that gives ever-so-slightly. Also, on the definite plus side, the hole for accessing the headphone jack is wide enough so that there’s no need for one of those headphone extension cables.
The FUEL iON Case for iPhone 5/5S kit includes a vertically designed charging cradle: basically it’s a small white stand (the case itself is a matte black) with a gripping pad on the bottom to keep it upright (there’s some weight to it, but it’s not weighted down). There’s a single output at the back which consists of a micro-USB slot and this juts out from behind. So you connect a USB cable to the stand and to a USB source, which could be on a computer or a USB adapter. Since the Fuel Ion doesn’t sync with iTunes, it doesn’t matter which is used — but to do connected syncing, a separate micro-USB cable must be attached to the iPhone through a button micro-USB slot in the case. Those who opt for wireless syncing procedures are of course free from any problems in this regard.
So I placed my iPhone against the cradle and it stayed there — strong neodymium magnets built into the cradle keeps it firmly in place. And that’s regardless of whether the iPhone is placed vertically or horizontally. I saw a set of contacts on the cradle, so when I had placed the case against it, I moved it around a bit so that it and the golden circle on the case would make contact. This was easier than it sounds, especially when placing the case vertically. With this done, I looked at the “battery” icon in the iPhone’s corner and saw that it indicated that it was charging — pretty neat. I took the iPhone off, the charging indicator went away, then came back when I reattached the iPhone to the cradle. And during the charging sequence (as fast as a cabled one would be) neither the case or iPhone heated up.
Patriot also makes two accessories to use with the FUEL iOn — a car charger ($49.99), that connects to the windshield, and a charging pad ($29.99) which holds onto the iPhone when it’s laid down flat. I had both and both functioned similarly to the cradle, with the car charger not needing the syncing cable and providing a good way to keep an iPhone stable in the car, while the charging pad made for a good solution for traveling/hotel use.
The FUEL iON Case for iPhone 5/5S is simple to use and easy to get used to. There’s no “learning curve” and the freedom from the charging cable is exhilarating. Spending $79.99 is a no-brainer.