Let’s [Quickly] Open: Outtek Qi Charging Stand

What follows is pretty much the script for the video. I mention this in case you have a sickening hatred for the medium of video, my voice, or are at work.

Perhaps like you, I bought the Outtek charging stand for my night table. I usually charge overnight, and use my phone as my alarm. A stand like this would give me a much better view of the time and snooze/cancel controls in the morning.

In the Amazon listing it looks quite sleek, and in person it doesn’t disappoint… too much. In real life it looks pretty good — though it lacks the luster of the pics in the listing, of course — but it also reminded me of one of those 1980’s picture frame stands. My parents had a bunch of them when I was a kid, and I loved them back then. But now the style seems dated. I know that comes down to my own experiences, but at any rate there you have it.

Plus it was cracked in one corner. Not a deal breaker as no one is going to see this but me and the missus.

In the box is a small manual — which is really all that’s needed because the device is so simple — and the charging stand itself in a very pleasantly textured bag.

I have a Motorola Nexus 6, which is a pretty big phone. Fortunately this stand is relatively beefy, being only a bit narrower than the phone itself. Besides the looks, I was initially attracted to this charger by the deep lip in the front that looked like it would hold my immense Nexus quite securely. And indeed there’s no way it’s going to slip up and over that lip.

I was quite pleased with the pads on the bottom of the base, too. They really grab onto the table nicely, so the unit won’t slide all over the place.

The first time I plonked the phone down in portrait orientation it started charging immediately, and all was well.

However, when I tried using the phone — just navigating around a bit — it wobbled like crazy. That’s not helped by the Nexus’s curved back and bottom obviously, but there’s very little friction between the acrylic/plastic and the phone.

In landscape orientation the phone is much more stable. In fact, I envisioned using it in landscape all the time anyway, so I don’t really mind the portrait wobble.

But the problem I have — and this will of course vary widely between models of phones — is that the Nexus 6 has a Qi coil that’s off center when oriented in landscape. It’s probably around two-thirds of the way down the phone.

To get good coupling between the coil in the phone and the one on the charger, my phone ends up having to be far left of center. This means that the phone doesn’t sit stably on the stand this way around either.

My advice is that if you plan on using your phone in landscape on any brand of these portrait style charging stands, find out where the Qi coil is on your phone and keep that in mind when selecting one.

The one in the Nexus 6 hits the mark just about dead center to the stand’s coils in portrait, though.

But enough about the bad; One very appealing thing to me about the Out-tek is the way the LED shines through on the bottom of the unit. It’s bright enough so that it looks pretty damn cool, but not so bright as to be obnoxious in a dark room.

However, sometimes my phone will start charging immediately when I stick it on there. Other times the LED blinks between green and blue, which as close as I can find from the manual means “unnormal”. And of course the phone doesn’t charge when that’s happening.

The manufacturer recommends using the charging stand with a 2A or higher rated power supply, and I tried this out on a 1.5A, a 4A and a 6A USB supply, and it was hit and miss with all of them. Sometimes it would charge, and other times it would be “un-normal”. And I have Qi charging mat at my office which works just fine, so I don’t think the problem is with the phone.

One reason I decided to buy this model was that they specifically listed the Nexus 6 as being compatible. I’m sure they did so because the Qi circuitry is indeed compatible (though it doesn’t always work), but not because it’s a good fit for the form factor. You may not have similar issues with your phone, of course, and it may work flawlessly for you; Based on other reviews it has indeed worked well for many people. So before you buy it, consider the shape of your phone and the location of its Qi coil.

And if I could request anything of the manufacturer, it would be that they make the face of the charging area out of a rubberized or otherwise high-friction material, and put a rubberized pad at the bottom for the phone to sit on. That would probably make the stand a perfect choice for a wide variety of contoured phones.

About Scott

I'm a computer guy with a new house and a love of DIY projects. I like ranting, and long drives on your lawn. I don't post everything I do, but when I do, I post it here. Maybe.
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