Mar 13 AT 6:17 PM Brooks Barnard 0 Comments

TYLT VU Wireless Car Charger review

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I really like wireless charging. I love the convenience of it, and it’s basically a deal breaker for me if a phone doesn’t have wireless charging these days. I like it so much I own all sorts of wireless chargers and have them all around my home and on my desk at work. I also spend a significant part of my day in a car; wouldn’t it be magical to have wirless charging the car?

I’ve been able to spend several weeks with the new TYLT VU Wireless Car Charger. I even took the VU car mount with me on a trip to Europe. This is my first wireless charging car mount, so I don’t have another to compare it to. As a result, I will be comparing the TYLT VU car mount to this $20 iOttie car mount that I’ve been using for over a year and loved. The iOttie is not a wireless charger, so I will be comparing the TYLT VU car mount to simply plugging in my phone into the charging socket with a cheap “2.1 amp” car charger I bought on a road trip from a gas station. I use quotes because I’ve never actually tested the output of the car charger.

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Car Mount Review

I’ll start with the things that I liked about the TYLT VU car mount as a car mount. First, the sticky suction cup technology that TYLT uses is very good. Compared to my iOttie mount that would not stick to my textured dash, the TYLT VU sticks without problem. I previously used a puck with double-sided sticky tape stuck to my dash as a spot for the iOttie to stick to. I started using that same puck with the TYLT VU, but when I tried leaving for my trip to Europe, even after removing the suction from the cup, it still managed to rip my puck off the dashboard. The double sided sticky tape was no match for the TYLT VU stickiness. So I feel confident in saying that the TYLT VU could be used many different places throughout your dashboard or windshield and work very well.

The mount base itself is very straight forward. It has a suction cup with a lever to create the suction on whatever surface the TYLT VU is placed. I have to mention that I did manage to somehow break the TYLT VU car mount base. I’m not sure how I did it, and I don’t know if I actually broke it or if it just fell apart. I didn’t acutally see anything broken; it was just no longer together in a single working unit. I mentioned that I did take the mount to Europe with me, and who knows what happens to airplane luggage. But I broke it. I reached out to TYLT about this issue, and they said that something similar happened once on an initial production run, but no one else has reported this happening recently. This is also probably a good time to mention that the unit comes with a one year warranty. TYLT quickly sent me a new base and I was right back in business.

The TYLT VU base feels rather large and has kind of a cone shape to it. Near the top of the base there’s a ball that connects to the actual phone mount at a ball joint. This ball joint can pivot and rotate every which way. One downside about the TYLT VU compared to the iOttie mount is the lack of the verticle adjustment. The verticle adustment may not be as necessary with the wireless charging mount since you don’t need to run a cord directly to the device, but it is worth noting.

As for the mount itself, there are two basic functions: installing and removing the phone. Pretty simple. Compared to the iOttie with my Nexus 5, the installation mechanism for the iOttie wins the simplicity contest by a mile. With the iOttie you place the phone in the mount and the arms snap shut to hold the phone. With the TYLT VU, you need to place the phone and physically squeeze the two arms together. It sounds simple enough, but I found through trial and error that squeezing toward the back of the arms was able to give me the most pressure on my phone to best hold it in place. Before I figured that out, my phone actually fell out once during a commute. Luckily, my phone wasn’t damaged. I’ve used the iOttie for over a year and that never happened. As for TYLT VU’s release mechanism, a very simple button on the top of the mount will release both arms simultaneously. The TYLT VU wins in simplicity in this case.

The TYLT VU claims to be able to hold many different sizes of phones. It’s done well with my Nexus 5 and my wife’s LG G3. It also comes with two “adustable feet”; I believe one is to allow charging via a microUSB cable if you want to hold a non-wireless charging phone. At the bottom of the mount, you can adjust the feet up and down to allow you to properly position your phone for wireless charging. I didn’t need to adjust anything for my Nexus 5 to charge.

Wireless Charger review

Again, I am comparing the wireless charging capability of the TYLT VU to standard cable charging from the car with a 2.1 amp car charger. First off, I love the convenience of wireless charging, and to me, convenience is what wireless charging is all about. It’s not a fast way of charging, it’s an easy set-it-and-forget-it-you-don’t-have-to-find-your-cable-and-plug-it-in way of charging. The TYLT VU wireless charging car mount is no different. You put your phone in your mount and you’re charging. It’s that easy and awesome.

To get the TYLT VU power, the good people at TYLT provide a slick power adapter that plugs into your cigarette lighter port to provide power and an additional 5V 1.3A USB port on the adapter. This means that you don’t need to hog the cigarette lighter for yourself. You can charge your buddy’s phone at the same time as you wirelessly charge your phone, all while your friend is jealous of your wireless charger.

TYLT uses a 3-coil Qi technology in its VU wireless car charger. This, along with a large grip clearance (3.6 inches), allows you to easily charge a large variety of phones, including the Nexus 6. You can find a list of compatible phones on TYLT’s product page. It’s worth noting that there are ways to get wireless charging on almost any Android phone these days. Check out Nick’s post here for some Amazon options, or TYLT offers some quality slip-in products for Samsung devices.

Unfortunately, I think the convenience of wireless charging technology and the slick power adapter is where the awesome ends, and I don’t think this is any fault of TYLT’s. I think wireless technology in its current form isn’t cut out for in-car use just yet. As I already stated, wireless charging is not a fast way to charge. It’s actually a very inefficient way of charging in the sense that we are wasting energy by using the wireless technology. You’ll often notice your phone getting hot while wireless charging. This is some of that charging energy being lost as heat.

What am I trying to say? Well, while wirelessly charging in your car and using basically any type of feature like calling, navigation, or just having your display on, your device is likely to actually be losing charge. It may be losing charge at a slower rate than with no charging at all, but it’s still losing charge. I’m not saying the TYLT VU wireless car charger won’t charge your phone at all, but I am saying that I think the only way to get your phone to charge is if you’re not using it at all.

Charging exampleTo me, this isn’t very practical. I like to have Google Maps on when I’m driving around, and I’m often on the phone. So as you can see in this screenshot (charging phone with Google Maps on and phone call) that wireless charging isn’t ideal. I’m slightly disappointed. The phone isn’t going to charge as fast as it would with higher amp car charger. I’m not suprised, but I had higher hopes. I still enjoy the awesomeness and convenience of wireless charging in the car, so I’m probably going to use it anyway. Before I had the TYLT VU, I typically didn’t bother plugging my phone in to charge while I drove because I was too lazy to pick the microUSB cable off the floor of the car. So the wireless charger is definitely doing me one better.

Bottom Line

You’re never going to hear me complain about the quality of a TYLT product. I think the design of the TYLT VU Wireless Car Charger could be improved, but it’s got some really nice features and it looks great. I’m really looking forward to wireless charging technology taking a step forward in general. Until then, I’m going to have a hard time recommending any wireless charger in the car.

This TYLT VU car charger is now available and can be purchased in the TYLT online store for $80. This is another issue I have with the wireless car charger. TYLT is known for quality products, but it’s not known for cheap price tags. If you take a peek on Amazon, you’ll find some competitve technology for almost half the price with really decent customer ratings. I also found this interesting review where a guy says he’s been able to increase the output of his wireless charger, but I’m skeptical. One thing that I haven’t found with these competing products is legitimate warranty information. TYLT is clear that they stand behind their quality products and offer a one year warranty on their products. And I think we all know we typically get what we pay for.

So how do you feel about wireless charging technology in the car? What do you think of the TYLT VU Wireless Car Charger? Do you have a wireless charger in your car? Do you think wireless charging is for suckers? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!

Brooks is an engineer living in the Bay Area recently dislocated from the Great Northwest. He's an Android enthusiast who decided to start doing something (productive?) with his countless hours Android modding and theming. He has a hot wife, is a father of three, an avid F1 fan, and enjoys watching sports when he can. His current devices include the Nexus 6 and 7 (2103) both running stock roms and may or may not be rooted. You can follow Brooks on Twitter @Brooks_Barnard.

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