Air Dock.

This car dock has a great feature — wireless charging

Wireless charging is a great way to keep your phone battery topped off while it's not in your hands. Having a charger on your desk is really handy, and it makes the worries of battery life on today's big-screen phones just about nonexistent. But one place that really needs some wireless charging love in the car — and it's about to get some.

The folks at Air Dock have kicked off an Indiegogo campaign for what they call the world's best smartphone car charger, and after using it for a couple days I have to agree with them. If you use — and I mean really use — your phone in the car, for navigation, or phone calls, or as a music player or to entertain the passenger with a video or two, this is what you need. 

Hands-on

Using the Air Dock

Air Dock.

It looks and acts like a well-built car dock. The suction base will grip tight to your window or one of those adhesive disks on your dash, and it's fully articulated to swing into any position. I found it works well in the center of the windshield up by the mirror, or over by the side pillar if you want it out of the way or Mr. Policeman says you can't have it in the center. It uses a regular USB to microUSB cable for the charging circuit, so any long cable or extension (I used the one that came with an Apple Keyboard) can be tucked under the trim and routed out of the way. It does require a 2Amp connection, like most wireless chargers, so be sure your cigarette plug or hard-wired power source supplies it. 

Air Dock. Air Dock.

After the easy install, you just use it like any other car dock. The developers sent me the model that works with glossy-backed phones and it has a nano-technology sticky pad to hold it in place. This worked really well on the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3, as well as the Nexus 4. This pad will get dirty — it's super sticky — but you just wipe it clean and it's good as new. It's worth mentioning that you will need to add a wireless charging kit of some sort to the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S3, but they're readily available and inexpensive. The folks at Air Dock are also working on a version for the Nexus 5 that uses magnets to hold things in place, because the matte-finish back doesn't stick as well as the glossy finish on the Galaxy phones or the Nexus 4.

Where do I get one?

Air Dock.

Right now, the developers have kicked off an Indiegogo campaign for the Air Dock. You can get in as a tester with the prototype for $39, and start using it right away. I've got the prototype model here, and my critical eye can only find tiny issues with the fit and finish or small blemishes in the materials. It works perfectly, and I say go for it. But be quick — there are a limited number of slots open.

Everyone else can get in for $45, with an expected delivery date of February 2014. 

This has been a long time coming, and if you have a compatible phone — the Nexus 4, the Nexus 5, some LG G2 models, or a Galaxy S3 or S4 with a wireless charging kit — I really think you'll love it. 

 

Reader comments

First look: The Air Dock wireless charger

66 Comments

If you're REALLY using your phone (as you say), then, in the car that might mean screen on, navigation, Bluetooth streaming, and mobile hotspot turned on (for passengers surfing or streaming?).

In that case, will this charger actually produce a charging rate high enough to keep the phone from dying anyway? I haven't yet seen a wireless charger that would. The wired charger for my S4, pumping 1900 mA into my phone is barely enough to run the phone in that situation and still charge SLOWLY.

I don't buy that your S4 is pulling 1900mAh AND just barely charging. All it takes for me on my Nexus 5, and my Nexus 4 before that, to both run Waze/music/screen on AND get a good charge rate is 800-1000mAh, and it's very hard to find a charging combo that will actually give me that much. I have to hit around 500-600 to reach equilibrium. I can't believe the S4 is, what... a quarter as efficient? Seems like you're either not actually getting anything close to the 1900, or something else is very wrong.

In my opinion, 800 - 1000 mA (not mAh, thank you) is not a "good" charge rate, even when I'm doing nothing. When you get a better phone and have it for a while, you might get spoiled, too.

But that's beside the point. The point is, what is the charge rate from this wireless charger on one of the newer phones that will actually charge at (very nearly) 2A when using the OEM, corded charger?

We can each decide for ourselves whether it's "good" or "good enough" or not based on our individual phones, usage, etc..

You should not expect a car dock/wireless charger to charge up a phone at a high rate with screen on, GPS on, Bluetooth on, and streaming music. If it charges up a little bit, or keeps your phone from discharging, it's doing enough.

Also, a high charging rate can overheat the phone in the summer causing it to shut down. This happened to me last July driving around Florida, when I was trying to use my Nexus 4 as a GPS while charging it with USB.

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He is likely referring to the magnetic model mentioned in the post because Jerry says the matte finish of the Nexus 5 back does not allow it to "stick" as well.

I noticed that you can actually request a magnetic version in the comments section. I have a Galaxy S3, but I am looking at ordering an N5 from the Play Store, so I am going to ask for the magnetic version. I would like to get on the Early Bird deal, but Indiegogo doesn't offer Amazon Payments like Kickstarter does, which is a much easier option for me. Hopefully I will still be able to get in before the offer runs out.

The page says all you need to do is mention in the comments that you want that version, and that's what they'll send.

I wonder if the Note 3 even works with the faux leather back. It is not a slick/glossy back like mentioned in the video.

My first reaction was "cool, I may get one of those." But then I remembered that the BT in my car is for phone only, so to get music or GPS directions out of my phone I need to use a cable anyway. So for now I'll stick with a USB Audio / Charge cable and dock.

Maybe for my next car....

If your car stereo has AUX input, you can use a A2DP bluetooth receiver. I got a Kinivo BTC450 a few months ago (I'd link it, but Android Central thinks that Amazon links are spam!)

Supports A2DP and aptX. After pairing with my Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 5, I get in the car, hit the button (which doubles as the receiver unit), and audio switches over within a second or two.

Beats the crap out of the old blackberry stereo gateway that I used to use.

thanks for the tip on the Kinivio, i think i'm going to purchase one in the near future. i hate fumbling with cables and often don't listen to anything on short drives because of it. when i bought an after market head unit a couple years back, i didn't see the need for bluetooth (short sighted, i know). so yea, this charger coupled with the Kinivio and some clever Tasker profiles seem like a perfect solution to an annoyance of mine.

I'd get a magnetic one as long as it has a small ridge on the bottom to set the phone into. A bumpy car ride would jiggle a magnetically held phone free I would imagine.

I drive a full size pickup over very rough Alaskan roads, and my new style Nexus charger holds my N5 perfectly at a nearly vertical angle. As long as I don't use a case (which I prefer not to do) it doesn't move at all.

Testers are sold out and they are over $57,000 from meeting their goal which only has a few days left to go. Wonder if we will ever see a production model?

Says on their Indiegogo page that the campaign just started on Dec 29th. It doesn't end until Feb 1st so still lots of time.

Okay... is it just me or has NOBODY gotten the wireless charging in the car thing right?

IMHO what is needed is:
- SECURE holder for the phone... like the iBolt XPro Dock (http://www.ibolt.co/ibxs-33604)
- Strong magnet(s). Something strong enough to charge through a decent case.
- Flexibility to mount via suction cup OR vent mounted. This is critical to me as using a GPS (etc) while charging wirelessly can really torch a device and cooling via the vent is a must.

Plenty of devices hit two of the three, but NOTHING covers all three. The device Jerry is suggesting sounds interesting, but looks like it won't hold the phone securely.

This looks awesome.

I used to use my Palm Pre with a touchstone (held the phoen in place with a magent) in my vechicle, and it worked pretty well. A bad bump would jar it loose every once in a while, but it worked well overall. Something a little stronger would not be bad, but you also lose a bit in terms of ease of dropping your phone on it.

I just need Droid Maxx support..

I use wireless chargers for my Windows phone (work issued), and they work fine except that the charge doesn't always hold as well as if you charge with a wire instead. Have you noticed this in testing yet?

If they work well, I might be tempted to get a wireless charging kit for my GS3, as long as I can keep NFC too. :)

I wonder if the DROID Maxx would work on it? It's not specifically called out on the page so I hesitate to snag it, but would in a heartbeat if it worked!

I really think that the company that makes one with a space that could fit a Nexus wireless charger would do really well. That would be great.

I'll settle for being a "first batcher", but does anyone know or think it would work with the official Sammy note3 charging back? It does with the s4, as shown, but I'm not sure if they are the same. Note3 is Qi standard. I didnt see anything about that in the article....

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Just ordered one. Does anyone know if this comes with the dash mat? Can anyone recommend a good one if not?

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I tried ordering one for the nexus 5 as the inventor said to mention in the comments at checkout that you want a nexus 5 version, but at checkout there is no "comments" field and how the site works with PayPal, I couldn't add a comment there either. So, can't order until I can make sure I'm getting a magnetic one for the nexus 5.

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this contraption looks like something Jerry cobbled together himself from parts at the local Walmart.

That's exactly what happened... There's been a DIY for this on XDA for months. I built one myself for $30. It works great for me, uses magnets + sticky dash pad to hold my Nexus 5 in place. Looks like someone just Frankensteined it from that thread and is trying to make some money off of it. Buy matching colors and with a little elbow grease and you can definitely make a better looking one.

I wasn't quick enough to be a tester...hope he makes the goal and the first batch gets delivered.

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This looks interesting. I'd definitely like to get one of these wireless charges, but I like to periodically upgrade my phone.

I use my phone for navigation and music in the car. I have a charger for the car, so when I am playing music on the phone, the battery stays charged. On the other hand, when I am using the phone for navigation, the battery runs down even when the charger is plugged in.

Not sure how the wireless charger option would work out while using the phone for navigation.

I already have one, have had it for some 5 months, it is the Wireless Car Charger from LG, works great. It is the LG WCP-300 QI charger and I use it with my VZW Galaxy S III. I got it on Amazon. I then used the iBolt stem because it is a perfect fit.

It works perfectly to keep the phone charged even when I am using the phone for Navigation.

I can send pics if you want.

Awful.. This is a poor implementation of how a wireless charger should function in a car.

Nexus 4 - CM10.1.3

not trying to take my phone out of the case everytime i want to charge it. i will stick with car charger. not to mention i have the note 3.

The LG wireless charging puck I have charges fine through a case on my Nexus 4 I used to have and now my Nexus 5. I'd imagine if your Note 3 had a wireless charging battery door, you wouldn't need to remove the case all the time to charge, but YMMV.

Unless you are taking your phone on and off form the windshield, this wireless charger is useless.
I already have a windshield dock strategically positioned with my USB charger to stick into my phone and rest it in the dock.
I do this only once before I start driving and I'm good to use navigator etc etc. if you like to remove your phone from the dock constantly while driving this is for you. I'll wait until they come with a real wireless solution. (No wires).

Wireless charging is great. Google didn't think this through however. When I place this in a wireless car dock, I'd like my car app to start. Likewise, when I have this on a wireless desktop base, I'd like a different app to start. This happened with previous plug-in bases from Motorola. Please add an interface so that wireless bases can be identified by function and various apps are started. I feel the entire android phone base took a step backwards.

I got this for Christmas:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F5XPCSC/ref=cm_sw_r_an_am_at_ws_us?ie=UTF8&t...

It has a mechanical phone holder that has a really nice ratchet action with an easy to use release button. It charges up the phone at a decent rate while using GPS, Bluetooth, and streaming.

I'm sorry, I would never rely on a sticky rubbery mat to hold my phone in place, particularly in a moving car. How soon we forget the Nexus 4 wireless charger, which had a rubber mat unsuccessfully holding a glass backed phone in place. On people's dressers. Which tends to experience less vibration than a typical moving car.

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just backed this for the early bird perk. first time backing one of these indie campaigns so i'm pretty excited. will be pairing it with the Kinivio bluetooth device i just purchased on Amazon and some Tasker profiles to create a completely automated, wire free, car listening experience!

so simple yet none of the big companies thought of it. placed my order couple of days ago but going by the schedule, i wont be getting mine until april :(

I ordered it a while ago and it never came to me. I wonder if it's a scam, had to file a claim with paypal. Nobody responded on the other end...

I have a Nexus 5 and got the Air Dock.
My first case (a Tudia Melody) would hold with the magnets and Qi charger works well.
But the magnets alone didn't feel quite like a secure hold (i.e. easily knocked off the stand accidentally).
I tried a few other cases but it seems that any case that is not totally smooth (any mat finish) doesn't
seem to work with the Micro Suction of the AirDock.

I finally found the perfect combination: Nexus 5 / Ringke Fusion case and Air Dock.
I got the RINGKE FUSION for Nexus 5 on Amazon for 10 bucks.
It is elegant, protective, comfortable and it STICKS to the AirDock like its life is depending on it!!!
The Qi charger also works wonders with this case.

Note: The Nexus 5 Case, Spigen® [AIR CUSHION] [+Screen Shield] Google Nexus 5 Case ULTRA HYBRID would also work with the AirDock but the reviews I read favored the Ringke for better fit on the Nexus 5.

Note2: The Ringke case has a very narrow audio jack hole so you may need to get a new (slimmer) 3.5mm aux jack to connect to your car radio. I ordered this one (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AJHBD7I?tag=androidcentralb-20&m1k=d_ac) but haven't received it yet.

Enjoy the perfect combo!!!
- Christian

Thanks man.
Another choice on kickstarter -- Ultimus Qi: The Ultimate Wireless Charging Dock
Truly drop and charge for Qi-compatible smartphones of all sizes & 7-8" tablets, stands it up at a optimal charging & viewing position.
http://goo.gl/6YrHYT