Yes, yes, it's a confusing situation. I blame Apple, for taking away the 3.5mm headphone jack from their flagships (to boost sales of their new AirPods) and then I blame other companies for copying Apple. Happily, most phones under about £400 still come with jacks, but for anyone wanting an Android flagship for the last two years and who isn't all-in on Bluetooth, some way of getting wired audio out of a Type C jack is worth researching. Online, you can get 'adapters' from £1 to £100, which means that you might like some guidance from AAWP. Here, I test two candidates and am blown away by one in particular!
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Following on from my feature on adding a Qi charging coil to a generic smartphone that doesn't have Qi built-in - and following on from my earlier Flow story of a 1000mA (1A) coil that utterly failed to work with the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro - I've bought in the upgraded 2000mA (2A) coil, to see how that changes things. The bad news (AAM) is that compatibility with Android phones is patchy, but the good news (AAWP) is that it reverses its predecessors failings by working with the Alcatel IDOL 4 Pro and adding a whole new feature to this otherwise forgotten faux-flagship on Windows 10 Mobile...
We get sent quite a wide variety of accessories for review! In this case, an all-purpose accessory for your Surface Pro or similar laptop or hybrid - it's a leather and canvas backpack with dedicated pouch for the important hardware, plus enough space in the main body for all your adapters, cables, chargers, Bluetooth speakers, err... sandwiches, Thermos flask, whatever you need with you at all times on your travels. So yes, a little generic as a review item, but site owner Rafe is a backpack fan too, plus this is a rather nicely done mobile accessory and worth writing up.
OK, pedal to the metal, what happens when you take everything about Bluetooth speakers and crank all the possible parameters 'up to 11'? 60W stereo output, twin amplifiers, three speaker cones, rugged and IPX5 waterproof, Bluetooth 5, twin 5000mAh batteries, with power bank mode, NFC for easy pairing, TWS stereo mode, LED strip lit controls. Put all of this together in a single accessory and you have the mother of all Bluetooth speakers. Tronsmart call this 'Portable', which it is - fine to cart from house to house or room to room, but way too heavy for that picnic or hike with the family! But wow, does it deliver.
Qi wireless charging is starting to make it into power banks now and this is a great example of the breed, sent in for review by Choetech. As you'll see below, you can even charge three smartphones or other devices at the same time, which is impressive, perhaps on a family day out. It's tough, it's capable, it's very pocketable, and it's not too expensive. It even supports pass-through charging, so you can use it as a desktop Qi charging pad when at home.
The original 'NexDock 2' (yes, yes, there was a original from a previous generation) lapdock was reviewed here in some detail and I was generally impressed, though let down a little by the screen bezels and the appallingly quiet speakers. The NexDock Touch manages to fix both of these, with bells on, then adds a full capacitive touchscreen and a much bigger internal battery. In theory compatible with the Lumia 950 and other Continuum-enabled Windows 10 Mobile phones, plus Samsung DeX-enabled Galaxy devices, I give this the full review treatment. Tldr; Windows 10 Mobile enthusiasts will want to stick with the NexDock 2, but Samsung owners can see this as full steam ahead into a touch lapdock world. [UPDATE: Now compatible with Lumias via a workaround]
Over the years we've seen an uptake in USB Type C. The Lumia 950/XL were in the vanguard, along with the Google Nexus devices of the time. From basic 5V/3A delivery through to multiple voltages in 2020, Type C has both come a long way and also gotten slightly more confusing. Here, providing a brief summary of the technicalities involved, I also want to (start to) review some of the commercially available USB Type C mains adapters. Don't worry, I'll add to this in time.
USB Type C cables, first required in the phone world around 2015 (the Lumia 950 was in the vanguard!), are fairly common these days, but not all cables are equal. The cheapest miss out data lines, many aren't officially rated for high charging currents, most aren't built to last - but I was sent this Volutz 5 pack (you'll see why '5') to review and I was really impressed.
The number one hassle with power banks on trips is that you also have to remember to take with you the right charging cable for each family device that you might need to rescue. For most of us, this means bringing along a power bank plus a Type C cable, a microUSB cable, and Lightning too, for family members with iPhone or iPads. This Aenkyo accessory is perhaps the ultimate swiss army knife in the power bank world, in that it can not only charge phones via Qi wireless, it has integral Type C, microUSB and Lightning cabling. So - quite literally - no extra wires are needed.
Back in June I reviewed a lesser variant of this RAVPower champion, plugging directly into a wall socket and only offering two output ports. This, the 'Pioneer' top of the line, has a standalone unit and flying mains lead, plus offers no less than four outputs, two PD and two 'smart' USB. In short, it's a complete (mobile) mains charging solution and I was impressed. This just jumped the pile into my gadget briefcase...