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article imageReview: The Choetech Circle makes wireless charging simple for everybody

By James Walker     Sep 27, 2015 in Technology
With the number of devices that support wireless charging quickly growing, there has never been a better time to start using the new technology. Choetech's circle charger is a good-looking, easy way to cut the cord from any Qi-compatible device.
The Choetech Circle T517 Qi charger comes packaged simply with some basic documentation and a micro USB to USB cable. The entire box weighs just 64g but the charger isn't so light that it easily moves around on a desk.
Getting started with the device is simple and is just a matter of connecting the USB cable to the charger and any powered USB port. Choetech does not supply a wall adapter but an existing one that outputs power over USB would work without any issues.
The charger's circular design keeps it compact and unobtrusive. My review unit came in silver but black and white variants are available.
A key feature of the T517 is the blue LED integrated into the base. It acts slightly differently according to the phone that is being charged but generally glows during use and then turns off when charging is complete, making it easy to see the current charging status with a single glance.
The LED is connected to an ambient light sensor, a unique feature for a wireless charger. When a room is darkened, the LED automatically turns off in a surprisingly useful ability. It's good to have the sometimes distracting light dim itself as the ambient light falls as it prevents the glowing charger from commanding your attention while working at a desk. It could also help with sleeping if the device is used in a bedroom.
The Nokia DT-903 wireless charger
The Nokia DT-903 wireless charger
Wireless chargers have quickly become a product class that generally "just works" and the Choetech offering is no exception. Nifty LED aside, there simply isn't much to talk about here — it's a wireless charger so if you have a Qi-compatible phone it should make your life easier. That simplicity certainly isn't a bad thing though and may indeed please newcomers to the technology. Many people are yet to experience wireless charging as it is still primarily restricted to only top-tier devices.
I encountered no issues with the charger during my testing with my Nokia Lumia 1520 in the past week. The only annoyance I found is that the phone is slightly too big for the charging pad, although this is no fault of Choetech. The 1520 remains a giant in the smartphone world with its expansive 6-inch display; the effect of this is that it hangs well over the sides of the charger as its wireless charging coils are mounted towards the bottom of the chassis.
This isn't a problem that users of more standard-sized phones will experience though. Compatible devices include any phone listed as supporting the Qi wireless charging standard, including new Google Nexus, Samsung and LG devices as well as many others.
Charging time from the T517 was largely what I would expect, topping up my phone at a rate of roughly 5% every ten minutes. Wireless charging does take longer than using a cable because the power is delivered at lower current (1 amp in this case) in a lower-efficiency process.
It is based around transformer and induction theory — current flowing through coils of wire in the charging pad can induce a flow of current in coils in the phone's chassis, if the two are close enough together. New users should note that both the phone and charger may get noticeably warm during use but this is normal and common to all wireless chargers.
The Choetech Circle Qi wireless charger
The Choetech Circle Qi wireless charger
The Choetech Circle is not the first wireless charger I have used. I have owned Nokia's DT-903 smart charger for several months and inevitably some comparisons have been made.
As an owner of a Nokia Windows Phone and Nokia charger, the better option for me remains the DT-903. It is larger to start with and can fully accommodate the massive girth of my 1520. I actually prefer the blue LED of the Choetech over the orange Nokia one but then the latter can do more with it. Software features allow the DT-903 to pair with compatible Windows phones over Bluetooth and flash the LED when notifications arrive. It also "breathes" gentle pulses when the battery is low and automatically disables at night, in-line with the quiet hours rules defined on the phone.
The Choetech Circle Qi wireless charger
The Choetech Circle Qi wireless charger
The comparison between the two different devices isn't really valid though as the Nokia has a target audience of existing Lumia owners while the Choetech is a simple, mass-market device with a clever LED that is easy for wireless charging novices to get acquainted with immediately.
They are both great options for their respective audiences and I'd have no reservations in recommending the Choetech to anybody looking for a new wireless charger. Qi support is growing and will soon become more commonplace as more phones launch supporting it, including new budget options.
The Choetech Circle Qi Wireless Charger retails at $30 USD, £40 GBP, $27 CAD or $26 EUR. A promotion means that it is currently selling at $19.99 in the U.S. and £17.99 in the U.K.
More about QI, wireless charger, Charger, Charging, Power
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