Want to charge your phone wirelessly in a Starbucks? If you have an iPhone, you've been out of luck, but a special new case has come to the rescue. The Bezalel Latitude brings wireless charging to the iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus and 6s Plus, so coffee drinkers can now use the Starbucks chargers built into the tables.
For the uninitiated: wireless charging means when a device is placed on a compatible pad, it'll start charging, no plugging in required. That "compatible" part is key, because there are two main standards: Qi and Powermat. The latter is rolling out at Starbucks locations across the U.S., but confusingly the former is more common in smartphones.
Bezalel says the Latitude is the first iPhone case that works with both standards, and it feels like magic. Throw the phone down without giving it a second thought, and it'll start charging automatically. I've been using the Bezalel Prelude to charge the Latitude. When it launched in 2014, the Prelude was the world's first rechargeable wireless charger, so Bezalel knows a thing or two about wireless innovation.
The Latitude also gives a glimpse at what the iPhone 7 could be like. Rumors claim the phone might introduce wireless charging, with a recent report suggesting Apple may invent its own solution. If that happens, the Latitude would still serve a purpose for charging up the iPhone 7 without resorting to Apple's weird, obscure system.
While wireless charging is amazing, and it's certainly nice to be free of a tangle of white cables, there are some significant drawbacks to the Latitude that made it hard to live with.
It's really easy to get started with the Latitude. The case charges the iPhone via the Lightning port, with a little plastic dongle that you connect after the phone snaps in. Luckily, you can unplug this and use a wired charger when needed. Wireless charging is still basically voodoo at this point, and it's unlikely people will get what you're talking about if you ask for a wireless charger, let alone have a spare.
The dongle won't bend back more than 90 degrees though, so if you want to put it in a dock you need to take the whole case off. That's when you realize the downside. This case is made of solid plastic, and will grip the iPhone for dear life. I've tried wriggling and wiggling it out of the case in the least offensive way possible, but this thing will not budge. Considering the "bendgate" scandal surrounding the iPhone 6 (which Apple rectified with stronger aluminum in the iPhone 6s), I wasn't too keen on applying oodles of pressure.
It's also thick. That would be fine if the phone was well protected, but it doesn't even seem to do that. The lip found on other cases is virtually absent, so if the phone falls screen face down, it's probably not going to survive.
The Latitude does exactly what it's supposed to do. It charges wirelessly. It does it fine. The case is so hard to remove, though, it almost feels like it was never designed to be taken off. The Latitude gets full marks on the wireless charging front, but I still don't want to use it ever again.
I wanted to like the Latitude, I really did. Placing your phone down on the counter at Starbucks, knowing it'll start charging itself, is genius. If this is what the iPhone 7 will be like, sign me up. But the case itself, having to put up with all its flaws? I'd rather not bother.
The Bezalel Latitude is available from the company's website Beginning Monday for $49.90 for the standard version and $59.90 for the Plus-size version.