I love being on the cutting edge of technology and Kickstarter helps me do just that—to a certain extent. Not everything that comes from Kickstarter is a hit, but they do have some great success stories: Wasteland 2 was resurrected through Kickstarter, Pebble e-paper watch, Olloclip quick change camera lenses for iPhone, just to name a few. When I tripped onto the possibility to back the next generation wireless charger, I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity this last February for well under $100. Now that I’ve finally received my Ark and had the last week and a half to test it out, I’m ready to provide you with the my overall impression of this new wireless charging device and a few of its accessories for the iPhone 5.
After opening the packaging and exploring all the goodies I backed, I was exctied to get the Ark plugged in and get it all charged up. It seemed the Ark was half way charged up since the first two lights stayed illuminated and the last two were blinking intermittenlty to show they were receiving power. After about nearly five hours of charging, the final light on the Ark was still blinking. I was too anxious to see how it all worked, so I went ahead and unplugged it from the wall to give its first chance to charge my iPhone 5.
There were different Kickstarter packages you could choose from and I decided to go with the Ark and an iPhone 5 wireless charging case. Each backer package came with a wireless receiver that plugs into the lightning port on the bottom of the iPhone 5 and backers would then put a case they already own over it. I wanted to see if I liked having the convenience of a wireless charging case too, so I backed a higher priced package. Eventually I had the opportunity to upgrade my order, for an up-charge, to snatch one of the red ones. I was extremely excited to get the red Ark and figured what’s a little bit more money gonna hurt to get something even more unique?! Shortly after unplugging the Ark from its first charge, I popped on the wireless charging case I got for my iPhone 5 from Bezalel for the Ark. The case went on very easily, but I made sure to read the directions beforehand to ensure I knew how to properly get everything on snuggly, while understanding how to safely remove it.
After getting the Ark almost fully charged and the case on, I was recharging my iPhone 5 wirelessly and loving it. There’s a little back story to why I decided to back the Ark. When Apple decided to switch to the lightning charge port, the fate of my iHome alarm clock was in jeopardy. Since I love that dang thing, I figured I would somehow adapt and overcome. Well, the Ark is my adapt and overcome nearly two years later. Until the Ark arrived, I’ve been charging my iPhone 5 across the room and crossing my fingers that our cats don’t chew through the cable each night. Amazingly enough, they’ve left the cord alone and I’ve saved the steep $30 price tag on replacing a cable. Since the Ark advertised having the ability to charge my iPhone up to three times, I figured I would only have to recharge the Ark every couple days. Finally, I no longer have to get out of bed at night when receiving a text after plugging my phone in to charge for the evening. Things were looking up for “the Critic!”
Initially, I was impressed with how great the iPhone 5 wireless charging case was. A few hours after putting the wireless charger case on my iPhone 5, I noticed it didn’t fit as snuggly as I had previously thought when I first put it on. The bottom of the case, where it plugs into the lightning port, doesn’t sit flush on the bottom right-hand side of the phone. It’s not terrible, but it’s definitely noticeable while interacting with my iPhone. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about keeping my iPhone’s safe over the years is to avoid having the screen protrude at all from a case. One of the most important factors, in my opinion, for a case is to have the edge of a case raise above the screen itself. This has saved my iPhone’s screen numerous times when I’ve dropped them over the years when they land face down. Although this wireless charging case offers no raised edges for protecting the iPhone screen, at least with everything flush there are no exposed edges that can snag on something, which can help the phone slip from your hands. This could possibly be a design flaw in my particular case since I haven’t seen people complaining about it on the Kickstarted page for the Ark.
Although I really enjoyed the wireless charger case for the iPhone 5, there was one more thing I didn’t find enjoyable. The case plugs into the lightning port of the iPhone 5 and there’s a Micro USB port you can use to plug in your iPhone to charge with or without the Ark. Unfortunately, when I plugged my iPhone 5 into my MacBook Pro, iTunes wouldn’t recognize it so I couldn’t sync without carefully taking off the case. I know what you’re thinking, just turn on the sync over WiFi option in iTunes. Well, I’ve turned that option off after losing my iHome for charging my iPhone. In order to sync my iPhone 5, I had to carefully take it out of the case and hope I didn’t break the piece that plugs into the lightning port at the bottom of my phone. Thankfully I read the directions and I remembered exactly how to do it. With everything unplugged, I synced my iPhone with iTunes and decided it was time to switch back to my Otterbox case and try the wireless card provided with the Ark.
After four great days with the wireless charging case and only a few minor issues with it, the wireless card was easily plugged into my iPhone 5 and my Otterbox case was reintroduced to my phone. Although I missed the shiny, smooth, and sleekness the wireless charging case offered, I felt a little more secure knowing the Otterbox was cuddling my precious. Getting the Otterbox on wasn’t difficult, per say, but things were snug and you could tell the bottom portion of the Otterbox was slightly bulging. It was almost as if my Otterbox had gained a few pounds while we had been apart. I would probably experience the same depression and subsequent weight gain if I had to go four days without my iPhone.
Charging my iPhone 5 with the wireless card was fairly simple, but I had to make sure the bottom portion of the iPhone was sitting on the bulk of the Ark to ensure it would charge. This was as to be expected given how small the wireless card is, but if I didn’t properly place my iPhone on the charger, it would get zero juice. I was so comfortable with the wireless case because no matter how much one portion of the iPhone was on the Ark, you would start getting some juice pumped back to your battery so long as it was sitting firmly on the Ark. If I didn’t have the wireless charging case, I probably would’ve never noticed a difference, it would’ve all just made sense. Knowing the case was recognized by the Ark so much easier, I simply expected the same with the wireless charging card.
Much like the wireless charger phone case, the wireless charging card posed the same issue when I needed to sync to iTunes. I thought I would simply remove the plug from the lightning port and attach the lightning charging cable and viola, I’d be syncing in no time. Well, that wasn’t the case. The Otterbox case was so snug that I couldn’t get a good grip on the wire to unplug it. Of course I could’ve grabbed some needle nosed pliers and taken care of it, but by the time I would get back from grabbing pliers from the garage, I would’ve had the case off already. This probably reduced the risk of me damaging the wireless card connections or cable too. All in all, I liked the wireless charging case better than the wireless card. As for the Ark itself, I knew how I felt about it right away when I took it out of the box.
When I took the Ark out of the box, I was totally digging how sleek it was and its potential. This wireless charger would be very handy in so many different situations and now I was finally getting the chance to put it to work. The Ark came in handy for me tremendously at work. While working, as an air traffic controller, I turn off my phone. When I’m on break, however, I’m able to use it again but there are quite a few dead spots for cell service at work. This has a tendency to run my battery down fairly quickly. I’ve used the Ark at work on numerous occasions and it has always performed as designed. I did notice the wireless charger card seemed to charge my iPhone 5 faster than the wireless case. The wireless charger card did make the iPhone warmer than the case while charging though.
Bezalel advertises the Ark as being able to supply up to three full charges for smartphones. I have only been able to get two charges out of the Ark and they weren’t when my iPhone 5 was less than 20 percent battery power. It appears my Ark is only giving me between 1 1/2 – 2 full charges before the 5200mAh Poly-Li-ion battery runs out of juice to offer my iPhone. This is somewhat of a let down, but then I noticed the wording says “up to three.” I can’t really complain too much since it’s able to provide more than one charge when other battery cases you can add to your iPhone can only provide about one full charge. The price I paid to Kickstart the Ark is less than quite a few of the better juice cases you can buy for your iPhone 5, so again I can’t really complain too much.
From the sounds of it, one would think I’m sort of let down by the Ark. This couldn’t be any further from the truth though. The only real complaint I feel is valid is that I’m not getting close to three charges out of my Ark after charging it all the way up. The other limitations stem from Apple’s pesky little chip they put in their cables. Therefore, I can’t turn and point the finger at the Ark, I have to shake my head at Apple in this case, quite literally. Until there’s a work around for the chips in the cables, we all suffer when using accessories Apple hasn’t had their hand in creating.
Even though I’ll have to deal with a few issues while using the Ark, I’m extremely pleased with my decision to Kickstart this idea. Its given my current iHome a stay of execution but it also has pulled my iPhone off the floor when it needs charging. I’m no longer shutting off Bluetooth or WiFi while at work in a desperate attempt to save precious power. I haven’t had a chance to travel with it yet, but when I do, I listen to a lot of music while trying to enjoy all the joys of air travel so hopefully it will allow me to drowned out all the sounds. There are times when I’ve been huddled by the wall trying to grab some juice. The Ark will allow me to break free from the stereotype Samsung has highlighted about use “wall huggers” in their recent commercial.
If you’re looking for wireless charging options for your iPhone, definitely give Ark by Bezalel a look once they become available. It may take a little while for the Ark to make it to the open market. Kickstarter backers are just getting their devices delivered, so improvements will likely be made prior to releasing them to the market again. Bezalel has a lot of stock riding on the Ark since they claimed it would be faster and more efficient than the competition. I don’t know if it’s lived up to the hype quite yet, but it definitely has some amazing potential to change the wireless charging market.(4 / 5)