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This is Stuff We Swear By, a series in which our editors expound on an item they use (and love) on a daily (or near-daily) basis.
Item: Satechi Duo Wireless Charger
Description: On my recent two-week sojourn to Australia, I took two power strips, three sets of travel adapters, four USB cords, a laptop charger and three portable device chargers.
Why? How? Sure, I had multiple devices — an iPad, a MacBook Pro, an iPhone 11 and two sets of headphones/earbuds (plus an additional four devices that my significant other wanted powered up). But I also knew that every day would require a different type of charging accessory — my 24 hours of flight/airport time between New York and Melbourne would necessitate something different than my evening excursion into Fitzroy or a daylong trip to a winery.
Admission: There is no one perfect solution to keeping all my devices powered up. So while I still recommend owning a 3-in-1 charging cable (even as the world shifts almost entirely to a USB-C port) and a charger that’s a little more svelte to stick in your pants pocket, Satechi’s new Duo Wireless Charger solves a majority of my issues when it comes to keeping a myriad of devices close to 100% powered.
The Duo is a Qi charger with an integrated 10000 mAh power bank that allows you to charge up to three devices at a time. It’s shorter but about twice as thick as my iPhone 11. The device itself admittedly has some heft (it’s just under a half pound) and is visually minimal, with a tiny power button on one side, a wireless charging indicator on the front and a USB-C input/output port at the back, alongside a four-dot battery level indicator.
It’s the top and bottom of the power bank that are most interesting. The Duo’s bottom features four rubber feet that nicely grip any surface, such as a desktop or bar top. And the top features not one but two Qi chargers — a 7.5/10W kickstand designed for phones and a 5W flat surface built flush into the device.
How I used it: I used the Duo for a week before my trip, during my two weeks out of country and another week when I came back, shuffling the device between subways, work, home and, well, two continents.
For the most part, I was charging two devices at once — my earbuds and my phone.
Why I swear by it: Until I upgrade to a MagSafe-compatible device (an iPhone 12 or above), I’m either stuck plugging in my phone or setting my device on a flat charging pad. And while I do use a different kickstand-like charger on my office desk, it has a problem connecting to my device through its case.
Not a problem with the Duo. Not only was my iPhone 11 always powering up when it was situated on the adjustable charging stand, it felt secure — credit the device’s rubber feet and the kickstand’s rubberized mat (with tiny raised bumps) for preventing slippage.
Satechi claims the device itself takes about three hours to fully charge, and that seemed right. How fast it charges your devices, however, depends on how many you have powering up at once — whether it’s one, two or three devices, the Duo is not what they’d call a “fast charger,” so expect an hour or two to get your devices on life support up to an acceptable battery level. The Duo itself lost power somewhat quickly when I was charging two devices; however, you can plug in the device and power up both the Duo and your phone/earbuds at the same time.
It’s not quite perfect — given the Duo’s size and weight, it’s fine to throw in a bag and deep coat pocket but rather unflattering for, say, a front pants pocket. It also can’t charge an Apple Watch unless you do it via a cord (and you’ll want to keep a cord anyway, as it’s really the only way to charge your devices when you’re walking). And I’ll continue to use BioLite’s Charge 80 for longer excursions and/or laptop powerups, even though it doesn’t offer wireless charging.
Review: BioLite’s Charge 80 Wants to Power Up Your LaptopAt $70, this portable power bank offers a lot of juice for a small price
But on the plus side, the design of the Duo allows me to actually use my phone while it charges — you can lie the iPhone in landscape or portrait mode, meaning it’s pretty accessible if you’re making calls or watching videos.
The opportunity never arose, but I could have charged my partner’s Android phone (via USB-C cord) while I was also powering up my own devices.
The device occasionally got a lot warm (many chargers do), but Satechi says the Duo has foreign object detection (FOD) and over-temperature protection to automatically detect and cut off power when necessary to ensure a safe charge.
It’s also quite a handsome power stand. The rounded edges and space gray aluminum finishes make it look like a naturally sleek extension of my MacBook Pro, which is where the device is usually parked.
Overall, I admit I occupy a somewhat specific situation where the Satechi Duo is ideal — I use multiple devices of various ages (and power requirements), I have a constant need for my phone and earbuds to be charged and readily accessible, and I usually carry a bag. And most of my charging happens when I’m sitting down, so I’m almost always able to perch the Duo on a flat surface.
If you want a charger that fits in your pocket, look elsewhere — but if you want to make sure your various smaller devices are readily powered and always available at a glance, then the Duo is an ideal partner.
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