Tired of dealing with wires to charge your mobile device? The Energizer Inductive Charger lets you place your iPhone or Blackberry on its shiny black surface, where it immediately begins charging wirelessly.

Energizer’s $89 inductive charging station has been available for a few months, and the company’s been working on the various sleeves that must be placed on devices so they can work with it. So far, there’s a sleeve for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, a replacement door for the BlackBerry Curve 8900, and now, Energizer’s finally finished its iPhone 4 sleeve and sent it to us for review.

The charging station is a wedge-shaped piece of piano-black plastic that’s a little larger than a paperback book. It has two spots where you can place your mobile devices for wireless charging, and can accommodate both at once. There’s a USB port in the back to connect an additional device, letting you charge a total of three at the same time.

This inductive charger is compatible with the Qi (pronounced “chee”) wireless charging standard adopted by the Wireless Power Consortium. Qi shows great promise — in fact, we’re so impressed, we named it one of the 8 Gadgets to Watch in 2011. The consortium members include Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, HTC, Verizon, Duracell, Energizer, Black & Decker and a few others — but notably missing so far is Apple. The idea is for all the products made by consortium members to be interoperable with each other.

Here’s a diagram showing how it works:

Does it work? Yes, and it seems like magic. The Qi system uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy instead of wires. When I plugged my iPhone 4 into its sleeve, all I needed to do was place it onto one of the targets on the charger, and its blue light began to glow, indicating that charging had begun. I like the way each of the two lights turn off, indicating the associated device is fully charged. When all are fully charged, the charging station goes into its energy-saving standby mode.

The plan for the Qi system is to build this wireless capability into devices, eliminating the need for an external sleeve, or in the case of the BlackBerry Curve 8900, a replacement door. Energizer says that according to iSuppli, there could be 234.9 million units with built-in wireless charging by 2014.

Whether that happens or not, for now, we have samples of the iPhone 4 sleeve and the BlackBerry Curve 8900 replacement door, and both are relatively unobtrusive. We also have the sleeve for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, and it’s slightly bulkier, more like a case than a 3/4 sleeve like that of the iPhone 4. See the gallery below for pictures of all.

The iPhone 4′s sleeve is nowhere near as bulky as even the thinnest add-on external battery extenders such as the Mophie Juice Pack Plus. It’s thin, light at 1.6 oz, and only makes the 5.1 oz iPhone feel only slightly larger and heavier. In the case of the BlackBerry, look at the gallery below you’ll see that the door only adds a tolerable amount of depth to the current handset.

Using the charger in these sleeves couldn’t be easier. The iPhone 4 sleeve has a snug fit, so you won’t be leaving it in your pocket as you pull out your phone. The target area where you place the device on the charger is big enough so that it’s easy to get the device to start charging, even if you don’t place it exactly on the circular graphic.

There’s an added advantage to that sleeve — if you’re one who holds your iPhone with a finger underneath, covering up its tiny speaker, the sleeve redirects the speaker’s sound toward the front. It does the inverse for the iPhone 4′s microphone, directing its sound from the front rather than the bottom. I couldn’t tell a difference with the microphone, but I noticed the speaker sounds better with the sleeve on, an unexpected benefit.

So is it worth it? Are we so lazy that we can’t bother to plug in our phones to charge them? Probably. Maybe it’s not laziness, but the desire for convenience that makes wireless charging so appealing. I found myself much more likely to lay my iPhone onto this charger than to plug it in. And, it’s good to know this charger will still be able to accommodate any device that’s compliant with the Qi standard in the coming years. That’s when this will really pay off — when many devices have this wireless charging capability built in, and no sleeves required. Until then, even with the sleeves, I enjoyed using the system and highly recommend it.

Here’s a video showing how easy it is to charge your device by just placing it on the inductive charging station:

Energizer Inductive Charger

Place an iPhone in its special sleeve, and put it on the charger slab and it begins charging right away.

Energizer Inductive Charger

There’s room for two devices

Energizer Inductive Charger

Here’s a three-quarter view. The shiny surface is a fingerprint magnet.

Energizer Inductive Charger

There’s also a USB port for an additional device.

Energizer Inductive Charger

Here’s the underbelly of the charging station.

Energizer Inductive Charger

The charging sleeve fits snugly on the iPhone 4.

Energizer Inductive Charger

The blue light indicates that charging is underway.

Energizer Inductive Charger

While it would be better if it wasn’t necessary at all, the charging sleeve doesn’t add much weight or bulk to the iPhone 4.

Energizer Inductive Charger

It’s not exactly thin, but thinner than an auxiliary battery pack.

Energizer Inductive Charger

See how the iPhone 4 is not entirely covered up by this charging sleeve.

Energizer Inductive Charger

The top of the iPhone is exposed.

Energizer Inductive Charger

The back of the iPhone 4 sleeve covers up one of its most fragile parts, its glassy dorsal side.

Energizer Inductive Charger

iPhone 4 sleeve without the phone inside

Energizer Inductive Charger

It’s relatively thin and light, weighing just 1.6 ounces

Energizer Inductive Charger

That’s the Qi logo on the back.

Energizer Inductive Charger

This is the replacement battery door for the BlackBerry Curve 8990. We didn’t have a handset with which to test it, but it looks quite thin.

Energizer Inductive Charger

Another view of the BlackBerry curve 8990 replacement battery door.

Energizer Inductive Charger

This is the sleeve for the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, significantly bulkier than the better-designed iPhone 4 sleeve.

Energizer Inductive Charger

Another view of the iPhone 3GS/iPhone 3G sleeve

More About: BlackBerry Curve 8900, Energizer, Energizer Inductive Charger, iphone 4, Qi, wireless charging




We now know the first rule of Apple earnings calls: you don’t ask about Steve Jobs.

Apple has rocked Wall Street twice in just two days. Yesterday, Apple announced that CEO Steve Jobs was taking another leave of absence from the company, citing unspecified health reasons. When the markets opened the next day, Apple stock tanked by more than 5%.

Earlier tonight though, Apple wowed the markets with a record-breaking quarter, earning more than $26 billion in the most recent quarter. We expect the company’s stock to bounce right back when the markets reopen tomorrow morning.

One thing was noticeably absent from the call though: Steve Jobs. The company’s visionary leader left it to COO Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer to lead the call and answer the questions of Wall Street’s analysts.

While they asked about everything from Android to Apple’s long-term strategy, not a single analyst asked about Steve Jobs or his health. How could they have not asked about something that has such a profound impact on Apple’s bottom line as the uncertain condition of its high-profile leader?

Perhaps the analysts knew they wouldn’t get any sort of answer from the tight-lipped company. Perhaps they feared that Apple wouldn’t invite them to any more calls or give them any more information if they treaded into the forbidden territory of Steve Jobs.

Regardless, the result is that we know absolutely nothing new about the Apple empire without Steve Jobs at the helm. And that’s exactly how Apple likes it.

More About: apple, iOS, ipad, iphone, iphone 4, steve jobs, tim cook, wall street




More details are surfacing about the next generation of iPhone and iPad, including that both devices will feature Qualcomm chipsets and that the iPad 2 will have an SD card slot.

The Verizon iPhone 4 utilizes a Qualcomm chipset instead of the Infereon version used in the AT&T/GSM iPhone in order to connect to Verizon’s CDMA network. However, Engadget reports that the Verizon iPhone 4 is just the first of many Apple devices that will use Qualcomm as its primary chipset.

Both the iPhone 5 and the iPad 2 will utilize a dual CDMA/GSM chipset from Qualcomm, assuring that both devices work on Verizon and AT&T simultaneously. There won’t be a need for two different versions of the same device.

According to Engadget‘s sources, the new iPad will be slimmer and sleeker, but will retain its 10-inch screen. It will have two cameras (something that we’ve often heard) and a “super high resolution” screen much like the Retina Display in the iPhone 4, though it won’t have the same pixel density.

The most surprising revelation though is that the iPad 2 will have an SD card slot built into the device. And contrary to previous reports, it will not have a USB port. Still, the ability to load and unload media and documents via a traditional SD card is a surprising but welcomed addition. The iPad is on track for an April release, once again in line with previous reports.

There is no word about what new additions will be made to the iPhone 5, but it is going once again be a complete redesign of the device. It will run on Apple’s A5 multi-core CPU. One thing it won’t have is support for 4G LTE connections, though.

While we have to classify all of this information as unconfirmed rumors, all of this information lines up with previous leaks and reports about Apple’s upcoming 2011 line of iOS devices. We want to stress though that Apple still has a few months before the release of either device, so they could easily change designs or features before their eventual releases.

More About: apple, iOS, ipad, iPad 2, iphone, iphone 4, iPhone 5, qualcomm, trending