Ampere: A Smart Wireless Charging Phone Sleeve
Ampere is a product by Novelsys, a California-based company whose founders hail from Singapore. Their small team has built up a notable amount of excitement over their Ampere device; a Qi enabled, external battery, with an eco-friendly repurposed leather case fit for the highest end smartphones, all built into one. It comes with an iOS and Android companion app that allows you to tweak this smart case to your personal preferences. I started digging into their story and have surfaced as an advocate. As you can see from the image above, what we have is a soft-touch leather sleeve on the inside for your smartphone, and a Qi enabled external battery with one standard USB and one MicroUSB port, and to the left of the ports we see a notification light and power button.
Why should I buy it?
Its purpose is to replace up to three additional products within one solution. This will not only save you space and potentially cash, it’s an eco-friendly alternative on more than one level. You’ll decrease your own carbon footprint by decreasing your potential waste, and consume “excess material from premium automotive upholstery”, I’d say that’s some recycling. So money, time, and the environment would prefer you have this product. What’s the catch? I can’t find one yet, and I’m looking. If you like the simple elegance of a leather sleeve style case, the convenience of a Qi charger, and the sense of security that an external battery provides; this product was designed for you. It can even help care for the general health of your battery, with help from the aforementioned companion app, which can automatically enable the Qi charging feature when your battery gets to a certain point with the help from Bluetooth LE.
When and where is it available?
At the moment it’s still in Kickstarter campaign mode, with an expected shipping date of August 2015. Its Kickstarter goal has been met at $63K out of the $60K required, with 28 days to go for pledge. At the moment, you can get the Ampere set with a pledge of $69, which includes the leather pouch/external battery unit, a Qi receiver, and a MicroUSB cable. Lesser pledges will receive a limited edition t-shirt for $25 and your name on their “Honor Roll” which is found on their website.
The value of the $69 dollar pledge is notable by the way, as a real leather sleeve could cost you $30 alone, an external battery another $30, and a Qi charger kit for your phone also another $30. Yes, I know there are bargain finders out there, who can get all of those items I listed for less than I mentioned, but I’m guesstimating the average price of each item within reasonable expectations of quality. In a nutshell, for $69 you’re getting a one of kind hybrid product, consumers regularly spend over a $100 on multiple devices to achieve the same goal.
How to use it?
XDA members love specifications and statistics, so here they come folks. The Ampere will provide up to 10 hours of additional battery life to your products. It not only wirelessly charges Android device, but with the addition of a standard sized USB port you can charge two products simultaneously, a Samsung Galaxy phone and an iPad for example could both be charging from the same 2700mAh Lithium Polymer 3.7V battery found within the Ampere. Its wireless output is 5V/1.2A, while its wired output is capable of rapidly charging select devices at 5V/2.0A, or about four times the speed of the average laptop output(.5A).
The device as a whole weighs 180g, which is about 50g more than an iPhone 6 handset for reference. It will be available in four color combinations; Black, Blushberry, Brogue, and a limited Kickstarter Carbon Fiber version. All of which, other than the carbon fiber version, are crafted from repurposed genuine cowhide leather. The list of compatible phones that Ampere provided me with are as follows: Samsung Galaxy S4/S5/Note 3/Note 4, Nexus 5, iPhone 5 and newer. Realistically the list is probably much larger than that, but those are the popular names.
Their smart charging application connects via Bluetooth LE, as mentioned earlier, and can be used to set trigger points for automated charging, sound an alarm for a lost Ampere or device, and precisely track the remaining battery life of the Ampere and your handset in both percentage form and remaining hours and minutes of use.
You’re required to use a very thin TPU style case to make an iPhone compatible with the Ampere, while on removable back phones such as the Galaxy line a slim receiver is placed over the battery and the back is reapplied over it. The Nexus 5, and other select smartphones have Qi receivers built-in. Regardless of the phone, a case which is too thick isn’t guaranteed to provide the best experience according to Ampere. So keep it thin when it comes to cases, or nude.
I asked Jared, Ampere’s very friendly and knowledgeable marketing guru, about potential warranty coverage for their Kickstarter edition Ampere products and he replied with, “We don’t have any official warranty programme in place at the moment, but as a company with more than one product and an intention to stay in the industry, we of course do not want unhappy customers. We will definitely replace any defective units and try to resolve any potential unhappiness from backers.” Good answer, in my opinion.
Jared’s personal message for XDA-Developers is as follows, “For xda-developers, I think I would like to highlight how Ampere was very much our response to existing portable Qi wireless chargers, which just didn’t cut it. The sleeve form factor- so familiar, yet refreshing for chargers- makes alignment effortless and ensures that charging works everytime. We’re also really proud of Ampere’s accompanying app that can potentially be developed further together with our Kickstarter community. For example, we implemented the ability to track Ampere/ your phone after members of our Amps Community (our pre-Kickstarter group of closest supporters) suggested it.” In closing Jared said, “We love xda-developers!”
What I gather from Jared’s words is Novelsys is a company who is not only confident in their ability to deliver a quality product, but also a group of real people willing to listen to their users opinions and make changes to meet their needs. Check out their Kickstarter here and make note of their different packages.