I have to hand it to PopSockets. Every time I think it’s gone too far, it finds new ways to push the boundaries of good taste even further. Today at CES 2020, PopSocket has announced its latest product—the PopPower Home, a doughnut-shaped wireless charger that lets you charge without having to ever take off your PopGrip.
Look, ok. I know. I, too, used to be one of those people who turned their noses up at PopGrips because they were weird and hideous. And then I converted to a Big Phone. (It makes reading so much easier on my garbage, useless eyes!) All of a sudden, I got it. I understood why people love these damn eyesores so much. They make wielding Big Phones so much easier. The only problem is that now, I cannot escape my love-hate relationship with the PopSockets Universe of Useless Accessories. I unironically love my PopWallet+, even though I’ve stuffed it so full it’s starting to come apart at the seams. I would rather gouge my eyes out than ever use the PopGrip AirPod Holder. I don’t even want to talk about the can holder or the lip balm.
Still, my interest was piqued with the PopPower Home. Wireless charging with a PopGrip is in fact, a bitch. You basically have to unscrew the thing for it to work, and most times that’s more of a hassle than it’s worth. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with sticking to a cable for charging. It’s just that wireless charging is cool and it would be nice to not have to choose.
Hence why I got one of these damn things to try out for myself. It arrived at my home a few days before I had to leave for CES. I opened the box, and lo, a doughnut-esque charging pad with a “cosmic cloud” design. It looked fine. Clearly the indent was meant to be a lil pillow for your PopGrip. PopSocket went a bit further than that with its marketing lingo, claiming the indent plus a PopGrip keeps your phone in the ‘ideal charging spot.’ It’s true that sometimes you gotta fiddle with a phone on a wireless charger, but insinuating the PopGrip’s existence ensured a better charge was a bit much.
It works—even if you use a case on your phone on top of a PopGrip. I stuck a new PopGrip on a Pixel 4 XL and it worked perfectly. My beef is it only works with the original PopGrip itself. No dice with my regular phone, because of my stupid fat PopWallet+. I didn’t feel like that was a fair thing to get pissy about, but then I saw the price. This doughnut pad costs $US60 ($87). My eye twitched, and then my brain melted.
It’s not that all wireless chargers are cheap. Some cost upwards of $US100 ($144)—especially if you can charge multiple devices on it. That said, a good number of single-device wireless charging stands and pads from reputable brands cost well under $US50 ($72). Heck, before I used PopGrips I bought a cute lemon-shaped Qi charger from the checkout counter at a Nordstrom Rack for $US18 ($26). You’re telling me for the grand privilege of not having to take a PopGrip off, I can fork over $US60 ($87) for a plain white matte doughnut charger? The other two available designs at launch aren’t even that cute. This thing doesn’t even charge my phone faster. It’s still the same 15W as every other Qi wireless charger. In an email, PopSockets told me this was the best wireless charger in the world. I think PopSockets and I have a different definition of ‘best.’
I’m sure some PopGrip diehards will pump their fists in the air with joy. As for me? I’m more or less staring at this thing while it charges my phone, wondering why I volunteered myself for this and if getting a Big Phone was a Big Mistake.
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