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SnapPower Charger review: Quickly add one USB charging port to almost any outlet

Jared Newman | Dec. 2, 2015
It's much less expensive and a whole lot easier to install than other solutions we've tried.

snappowerdecor
SnapPower offers a “Decor” version for rectangular receptacles.

A little less juice

The SnapPower Charger does have one notable downside: It’s only a 1.0-amp charger, which means it’ll charge your phones and tablets slower than most wall warts will. Most USB chargers deliver 2.0 amps or more (the charger for the Nexus 6P smartphone produces 3.0 amps to activate that phone’s quick-charge feature).

Using an app to record battery levels, my Nvidia Shield Portable’s 7350mAh battery took one hour and 56 minutes to reach the halfway point using SnapPower, compared to one hour and 26 minutes with its native power adapter. The full charge took four hours and 34 minutes on SnapPower, versus three hours and 26 minutes with the standard power adapter. That’s a total of one hour and 8 minutes of additional charging time with the SnapPower.

The Nexus 5X has a much smaller 2700mAh battery, but also includes fast charging capabilities through its USB-C port. Still, the difference in charging time was less pronounced. Reaching halfway took 50 minutes with SnapPower, and 30 minutes with the power adapter. A full charge took two hours with SnapPower, and one hour and 31 minutes with the adapter. That means the phone needed an extra 29 minutes to reach capacity with the SnapPower Charger.

The bottom line is that if you’re in a big rush, you’ll still want to break out the wall wart. But in most cases SnapPower’s USB port should be fine.

The size and the shape of what’s to come

From a design standpoint, the SnapPower Charger does have a few other minor drawbacks. Because of its size and its use of a single screw, the cover can jiggle around a bit when you’re connecting or detaching a USB cable. Combined with the matte plastic finish, it just feels a bit cheaper than a regular cover. The raised area housing the USB socket might also preclude you from plugging a larger power adapter into the receptacle directly above it.

Depending on your room setup, you might also wish for a USB port that faces left instead of right. You could install the SnapPower upside down, which would have the USB port facing right, but an FAQ on the company’s website indicates you’d need to also turn the outlet upside down. (SnapPower says it might release a version that faces the other way, or that it might even come up with a two-way version.)

The bigger question is whether you need a SnapPower Charger in the first place. You might, if you have an outlet whose main receptacles are usually occupied, and you want an extra charging port without adding a bulky wall tap or a surge protector. The side-facing port could also be useful if your outlet is behind a piece of furniture, as the USB port requires less clearance than a wall wart.

But mostly, it’s a neat idea, and a cheap way to make your average wall outlet—something I’d never even consider writing about—just a bit more useful.

 

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