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9 March 2015

REVIEW: Patriot FUEL iON Magnetic Charging

Give the wire the chop.

Sick of wires? We are. The humble USB is a brilliant thing, but having to use a wire to give your mobile some power while there are people living up in space having physical tools emailed to them, seems a bit prehistoric. If only there was another, less fiddly way to juice up our smartphones. Oh wait, there is... It's Patriot's FUEL iON system.

First up, wireless chargers are not a new thing, with one of our number owning a chunky PowerMat way back in 2010. Whereas that used painfully slow convection charging, the FUEL iON kit is magnetic, meaning there is an actual metal to metal charging interface. And a pretty attractive one at that.



We were sent two products to test, a combination phone case and desktop charging dock kit, and a car charging kit that sticks to your windscreen via suction cup. The part for your phone is the most vital as this is how the FUEL iON products get power into your device. Cases are available for a few models of phone including the iPhone 5 (with the 6 coming to the UK soon), and the Samsung Galaxy S4, S5, and Note 3, with our choice being the Note 3.


As you might expect, you pop your phone into the case which then can be magnetically attached to either the charging dock or the car charger directly, eliminating the need to mess about plugging in a wire to your handset. There are wires involvedof course. A USB cable is included in both packs to feed electricity to the desktop base and suction cup arm, but you'll never have to worry about them once connected. Because the magnetic connectors are circular this also means your phone can be in any orientation and still receive power; something that was very welcome in the car when using the phone for navigation. 



The magnets at play here are brilliantly powerful and the docks seem to snap them straight from our hands. That part was nicely reassuring as, after all, you are trusting your phone to a magnet. If it gives, your phone will drop, and that can be especially disastrous when in the car. Thankfully once stuck to the base it seems like your handset will not budge except for a good old yank. And by that we mean a solid pull, nor Morgan Freeman.


So far, so good... and we even quite liked our new phone case which, obviously, must be worn constantly to reap the wireless benefits. But here's the issue. We think we were quite lucky in asking to test the case for the Note 3 as Samsung, in all their untouchable glory, designed a phone which features a removable back plate and additional charging contacts beneath. This means we simply had to take off the back of the phone, pop on the FUEL iON case, and let both companies' technology work together flawlessly. Once on, the case did chunk up an already pretty big phone just a bit, but not much as it could have done. iPhone users won't be quite so lucky.

Because dear Jony Ive deems opening your smartphone to be some kind of international crime, no such additional charging contacts exist in Apple products. This means that the FUEL iON cases for the iPhone have to connect to the Lightning port at the bottom of the handset, adding quite a bit of length and bulk to a phone that prides itself on slimness. We never had the chance to test one, but check out the Patriot site to see what we mean.

At the end of the day this is the kind of product that not everyone will want (or need) but that a certain few will commit bloody murder to own. It all depends on how bothered you are about having to physically find the end of your charging wire and wiggle it about in you phone until it connects. If that is the most boring and irritating part of your day, this is for you.


But for those that truly don't care about that, the place the Patriot FUEL iON system might be most appreciated is in your car. We found the dash mount to be far superior to the desktop dock, and being able to quickly spin your phone around to use both landscape and portrait features was a big plus. Also, as you can just grab it and go, it makes attaching the phone to the car's mount the easiest thing ever, leaving you to concentrate only on the driving.

So an excellently put together set of products here, that both look pretty good and cleverly use the additions that phone manufacturers put into their handsets (or don't, Apple). You'll either love it or you stopped reading this review at the first paragraph.

Case & Desk Dock £64.99

Car Mount £34.99


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