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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Phunkeetree wireless charger review: Beautiful, but not effective

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Personally, I don’t really get the hype about wireless chargers. I’m perfectly fine plugging my phone into the cord, thank you very much. 

But the Phunkeetree wireless chargers made me want to believe. They made me want to be a wireless charger stan, simply because of how STUNNING they are to look at, to display on my desk, to proudly showcase to the world. 

Alas, their middling charging performance really just reaffirmed my original beliefs: Wireless chargers are just… fine. And Phunkeetree is gorgeous, but also, just fine.

Gorgeous • Easy to maneuver and setup

Middling charge speeds • Doesn’t actually use MagSafe • Makes phone hot if not placed correctly

Phunkeetree stands out for its design and looks beautiful, but it doesn’t pack anything special in its charging ability or speed.

What comes in the box?

Like you can probably tell, my favorite part about these wireless chargers is how they look. Phunkeetree’s designs are really something else. The two wireless charging pads that I tested weren’t made to blend in. No sirree, these babies were made for the stage. 

Definitely made to stand out!

Definitely made to stand out!

Image: Jennimai Nguyen/mashable

My favorite is the Wireless Charging Crystal Pad, which looks like what you would have if you cut a blue geode in half and dipped its edges in gold. It’s luxe, it’s glam, it’s extremely extra, and I love it. Phunkeetree says it’s meant to look like an agate crystal, and it comes in white, green, purple, blue and pink gem-like colors.  

The second is the Wireless Charging Marble Pad, and it’s a little more minimalist but still fabulous. As the name suggests, it features white and gray marbling that gives it a pretty texture without being in your face. This one comes in white, cotton candy, blue onyx, and black. 

It’s luxe, it’s glam, it’s extremely extra, and I love it. 

Both chargers are capable of up to 10W wireless charging for iPhones and Androids, and the box is equipped with a USB to micro USB cable. The Marble Pad has a port right on the charger itself to connect to the cable, while the Crystal Pad has a little wire coming out of it. The wire attaches to a little plastic circle, which is where the port actually is. It’s marked with a little palm tree power icon, an ode to the funkiest of trees, apparently. 

A tropical icon on the circular connector?

A tropical icon on the circular connector?

Image: Jennimai Nguyen/mashable

Nothing special about the connection on this guy.

Nothing special about the connection on this guy.

Image: Jennimai Nguyen/mashable

Both chargers also have LED lights to indicate whether your device is charging. The Marble Pad’s light is on the front of the charger, and the Crystal Pad’s light is on the weird circular thing. 

At first I thought the circular thing was an unnecessary addition, but after placing it on my desk, I do see that the added wire and separate port makes the crystal look a lot more seamless. So ultimately, I am pretty pro weird circular thing. 

Interestingly, the Marble Pad’s charging cord is actually a little bit longer, at 45 inches. The Crystal Pad’s cord is about 40 inches, but when connected to the bit of wire on the circular thing, does bring it to a 45 inch total. Neither charger comes with a wall adapter (taking notes from Apple, I see), so you will have to provide your own. 

Despite not really being MagSafe compatible, I was hoping the charge speeds would wow me

I guess I must admit that for me to like a wireless charger, it’s gotta be pretty outstanding at charging, or do something different, like implement MagSafe in a unique way. But I feel like these are fair standards. Charging is its literal job! 

The Phunkeetree chargers say they’re MagSafe compatible, but really, that just means that the iPhone 12’s MagSafe magnets don’t interfere with the charger. This is a pro, because I have encountered wireless chargers that literally won’t charge my phone because the magnets mess with it. But Phunkeetree’s chargers won’t connect via MagSafe if that’s what you’re looking for.

So with cool MagSafe stuff out of the question, I was really hoping that the charge speed and ease of use would be phenomenal. Alas, that was not the case. 

Testing charge speeds with the iPhone 12

I tested both charger’s charging speeds with my naked iPhone 12. Even though the chargers claim to work through “most standard cases,” I wanted to see what they could do with an optimal setup. I also connected both to a 5W Apple adapter, which is just what I had laying around. 

The AirPods fit with ample room on the Phunkeetree chargers, which proved to be pivotal for charge speeds.

The AirPods fit with ample room on the Phunkeetree chargers, which proved to be pivotal for charge speeds.

Image: Jennimai nguyen/mashable

After charging my phone for 30 minutes with both chargers, the battery results came in as: 

Clearly, there’s not a huge difference between the two Phunkeetree chargers. But for comparison’s sake, I also tested the charging speeds of the Apple MagSafe Charger and the wired Apple charger that comes with the iPhone, both connected to a 20W Apple adapter. 

After a 30 minute stint on the comparative chargers, the battery results came in as: 

Now there are a LOT of differences that contribute to the clearly higher charging efficiency of the Apple chargers. For one, they both use a USB-C connection on a 20W adapter, where the Phunkeetree uses USB-A and the tiny 5W adapter I had. For two, the Apple wireless charger uses MagSafe, which ensures it is optimally positioned to charge. Sure, the LED light on Phunkeetree’s chargers is nice, but it can’t be as perfect as magnets snapping onto the exact same place every time. 

So the odds were pretty stacked against Phunkeetree, but I needed to know exactly how stacked. Interestingly, Apple’s MagSafe charger actually outperformed the wired charger, which I didn’t expect, but that’s not what we’re here for. More glaringly, Phunkeetree’s chargers come nowhere near the MagSafe-enabled wireless charger or the wired charger. 

Testing charge speeds with AirPods

For good measure, I also tested Phunkeetree’s charging speeds with my AirPods, since it does claim to work with any Qi-enabled device. After 30 minutes with the pods, results came in as:

And once again for comparison’s sake, I also charged the AirPods with the Apple MagSafe charger and its own wired charger. Thirty minutes later, the results came in as: 

Again, stark, but very different results with the AirPods. My theory for the comparatively faster Phunkeetree speeds here comes down to the charger’s size. The Crystal and Marble Pads are significantly bigger than the Apple MagSafe charger, so the entire wireless surface of the AirPods case can sit comfortably on it. Because the Apple MagSafe charger is smaller and can’t adhere via magnets to the AirPods, the larger surface area on the Phunkeetree chargers is actually a significant advantage. I really have no explanation for the wired charger’s performance.

When I wasn’t explicitly testing charging speeds, I did throw my phone on the Marble Pad, case still on. I didn’t make sure the LED light was on and unblinking, so when I came back an hour-ish later, my phone wasn’t charging, and it was HOT. For obvious reasons, I hated that. I wish that Phunkeetree’s chargers didn’t require me to be so meticulous about my charging position, especially when it claims to be MagSafe compatible. 

Lovely to look at, but just not an outstanding charger

It comes down to this: Now that the iPhone 12 can manage up to 15W speeds for wireless charging, I don’t see the point in using a charger that goes any slower than that. I appreciate the aesthetics that Phunkeetree offers, but when I’m charging my phone, I’m looking for utility first, pretty designs second. 

So for that reason, I would choose other wireless chargers before Phunkeetree, which costs $59.99 for both the Marble Pad and Crystal Pad. But if you’re looking to compare Phunkeetree to other aesthetics-first, similar wattage chargers, some competitors include:

As an iPhone 12 user, I also really prefer that when a charger claims to be MagSafe compatible, it actually uses the magnets to adhere to the phone. This would vastly improve charging speeds, and not rely on nudging my phone around and hoping the light will go on to tell me it’s correctly positioned.

I understand that leaving the magnets out makes this charger compatible with more phones, but selfishly, I want the gorgeous Phunkeetree chargers to be optimized for ME. Then it would be perfect. Is that really so much to ask? 

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