CrackBerry Idol - Josh

BlackBerry Charging Solution Shootout

Through many years and many BlackBerry devices I have never ventured beyond the factory charger. It has always been a point of frustration that the cable included with the BlackBerry has a straight tip, yet the Micro USB connection is on the side of most devices. This makes it awkward when charging and a few times led to bent pins if the device falls from it's charging perch. There are a number of options available for charging your BlackBerry. Which charger charges the fastest? Does the type of charger make a difference regarding battery life throughout the day? Is the most expensive option the best?

To answer these questions and to take a deeper look into the world of device charging let's look at 3 charging options for the BlackBerry:

The BlackBerry Charging Pod:

BlackBerry Charging Pod

The PowerMat Charging System (along with the PowerMat Receiver Battery Door):

PowertMat

The Solio Solar Charger:

Solio Solar Charger

I put each of them to a head-to-head comparison to see which solution comes out on top. I used the MeterBerry application (available on the CrackBerry.com App Store here) to provide the data needed to compare each of the charging solutions.

The Chargers

Let's begin with BlackBerry's own solution: The BlackBerry Charging Pod. The Charging Pod is simple, easy to use, and aesthetically pleasing. When used with the existing charging cable included with your BlackBerry it allows you to just drop and charge. Once connected, your BlackBerry turns into a nightstand clock or you can simply turn off the screen. You can use it to charge while playing music or even watching videos. Priced at around $25 this charging option is the cheapest out of the 3 charging systems. It's small and will not take up too much room on your desk or nightstand.

Next let's look at the PowerMat Charging System. Priced at around $100, the PowerMat Charging System is on the more expensive side and promises a wireless charging solution. Despite being plugged into the wall by a wire it provides a wireless experience between your BlackBerry and any other device it is compatible with. Used in conjunction with the PowerMat Receiver Batter Door (sold separately for $30) you simply set and charge. The PowerMat uses induction charging through magnets to wirelessly charge your BlackBerry. Also included with the PowerMat is the PowerCube and a number of device connectors. A little silly if you consider the need to plug the connector into the PowerCube and then into your device to then set on the charging mat. That's one too many steps if you ask me. The PowerMat has 3 LED lights underneath to indicate your device is charging. Upon setting or picking up your device an audible (adjustable) sound plays to confirm connection or removal. The mat is a little over a foot long and only about ½ inch thick. I did have trouble finding a spot where it did not look completely out of place and also found it hard to be too far from the outlet due to the shorter power cable length. The PowerMat is sleek and sexy and provides exactly what it promises.

Last, but not least we see the Solio Solar Charging Solution. Out of the three chargers I was most excited to use this green option for charging my BlackBerry. The Solio Solar Charger resembles a large egg when closed and when open has 3 petals each with it's own solar panel. Included with the charger was a pencil used to prop the device and a number of different connectors for other phones and portable devices. When placed in direct sunlight the included internal battery charges and promises to hold that charge for up to 1 year. There is one button that when clicked blinks up to 5 times indicating the level of charge. Each flash is equal to 20%. There are two connectors on the side, one to connect your BlackBerry device and another if you want to connect it to a charging source. Also priced around $100 this device is in the same cost neighborhood as the PowerMat.

The Data

To establish a baseline I began logging my battery usage two days before testing each charging solution. For the first two days the numbers are below:

(Note: Each day removed from charger @ 5:30am at 100% battery level) 

Day 1

  • Average Hourly Decrease: 5%
  • Charging Start: 11:00 PM
  • Starting Charge: 54%
  • Fully Charged: 12:18 AM

Day 2

  • Average Hourly Decrease: 5.5%
  • Charging Start: 11:12 PM
  • Starting Charge: 52%
  • Fully Charged: 12:30 AM

After establishing the above baseline I began using each charging solution for 2 days each. Those results are below:

(Note: Each day removed from charger @ 5:30am at 100% battery level)

Blackberry Charging Pod

Day 1

  • Average Hourly Decrease: 5%
  • Charging Start: 11:18 PM
  • Starting Charge: 55%
  • Fully Charged: 12:10 AM

Day 2

  • Average Hourly Decrease: 4.5%
  • Charging Start: 10:01 PM
  • Starting Charge: 54%
  • Fully Charged: 10:48 PM

Solio Solar Charger

Day 1 

  • Average Hourly Decrease: 4.5%
  • Charging Start: 10:43 PM
  • Starting Charge: 42%
  • Fully Charged: NA - Partial charge to 62% by 2:00 AM

Day 2

  • Average Hourly Decrease: 3.5%
  • Charging Start: 8:15 PM
  • Starting Charge: 33%
  • Fully Charged: NA - Partial charge to 58% by 11:00 PM

(Note: Due to a defective first PowerMat there were a couple of days in between testing the Solio Charger and the PowerMat Charger)

PowerMat Charging System

Day 1

  • Average Hourly Decrease: 5.5%
  • Charging Start: 10:31 PM
  • Starting Charge: 52%
  • Fully Charged: 11:36 PM

Day 2

  • Average Hourly Decrease: 5%
  • Charging Start: 11:47 PM
  • Starting Charge: 57%
  • Fully Charged: 12:57 AM

How They Stack Up

Landing in last place is the Solio Solar Powered Charger. I was excited to use the Solio Solar Powered Charging solution, but that excitement was quickly met with disappointment. I followed the included instructions and put the charger in direct sunlight for over 8 hours on both days. The highest level of charge I received was 60%. While this may be a good interim solution while camping or on the go it is not a recommended charging solution for someone who uses his or her BlackBerry throughout the day. Times got a little tough when my BlackBerry was showing only 35% battery life remaining at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. When you combine its limited ability to charge with its price this is clearly one option I wouldn't choose again.

Coming in a close second is the PowerMat Charging Solution. Mainly because of its lofty price tag, this sleek and sexy system provides the wireless charging experiencing it promises. The ability to charge my BlackBerry along side my iPod Touch or other device makes this a great option for any gadget conscious person. Originally I was turned away by the $100 price tag, but when you consider you can replace 3 chargers with one it begins to make sense. The PowerMat Receiver Battery door allows for this option to be practical if you like your BlackBerry as close to factory as possible. One negative is the bulge it creates on the back of the device. If your BlackBerry finds its home in a slide or snap-on case then this solution won't work for you. Quick, easy, and cool sum up this expensive home charging option.

Topping our head-to-head comparison is the BlackBerry Charging Pod. Simple, consistent and easy to use this inexpensive charging option provides the most versatility in one small package. Leave it to BlackBerry to get it right - the charging pod does what it needs to do without overdoing it.

Each of the charging solutions used in this review are available on the CrackBerry.com Accessories store.