Do's and Don'ts of Buying Phone Chargers and Docks

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Do's and Don'ts of Buying Phone Chargers and Docks

The most important thing to consider when selecting a phone charger or docking station is compatibility. Product specifications and models will be very clear as to the brand or style of phone that any charger will work with. Unfortunately, even if a charger looks like it may fit a phone, it may not charge the mobile properly, so the particulars of the charging cables and their fittings should be adhered to at all times. Mobile phone manufacturers are gradually standardising the availability of USB charging cables. Such cables come with a plug attachment that can either be used in a wall socket, or it can be removed and plugged into a computer port to allow both charging facilities and the transfer or upload of images, data, or music files.

Phone Chargers

Wall socket and USB chargers

The majority of mobile phones come with a wall charger that is intended to be plugged into a mains electrical socket. Some phones, however, now come with a hybrid cable – that is to say, the plug attachment can be removed and the connector can then be plugged into a PC or laptop USB port. The benefit of such chargers is that replacement or spare units are readily available, and the adapters allow for greater mobility and portability. Do bear in mind that, unfortunately, without the correct mains adapter, such chargers will be incompatible with the mains outlets in different countries.

Car chargers

Mobile phone chargers that can be plugged into a car cigarette lighter will be able to charge a phone through the vehicle's battery. These are sometimes possible to use on a boat, and adapters are also available that allow a connection via a USB power cable, but don't assume that every vehicle adapter will be suitable for every model of phone.

Solar powered chargers

There are a number of solar powered chargers now available, although their efficiency is variable. Some will have a small, portable solar cell that can store the solar power in a battery for later use, whereas others may be much larger in size, facilitating a greater solar absorbance and, therefore, a faster charge. Some solar chargers come equipped with a single USB connector and can act as a universal charger, compatible with a broad range of devices. These types of chargers also tend to come with a variety of fittings to facilitate compatibility with a wide range of mobile phone makes and models. Do be aware that, as a green energy source, solar chargers suffer from only one real drawback – the need for sunshine.

Docking Stations

Docking stations are another option for mobile phone recharging. Rather than plugging the cable into the phone, the phone slips into a docking station and connects through the integrated charging port. Some docking models have speakers to allow any music stored on the phone to be played or the phone to be used while charging, whereas other dock models have multiple charging ports for concurrent multiple-phone charging. Not all docking stations are designed for phone charging, however, and docks tend to be make or model specific, so it is important to check the specifications and facilities before purchase.

Audio dock

Audio docks are available with a variety of functions. Some are used primarily for the audio facility, some have an integrated charging capability and others also act as an alarm clock. Do check that the audio dock is listed as compatible with the mobile phone in question, and do be cognisant that the more portable, wireless audio docks may suffer from a reduction in sound quality.

Portable audio dock

Portable audio phone docks are the most flexible when considering public music amplification. Typically lightweight, portable audio docks tend to be more compact than other models. Do be aware that such docks run on batteries and that using a portable dock with charging facilities will drain the batteries faster than simply using the dock as a portable speaker system. Indeed, these units do not commonly have many advanced features, generally being only capable of dock-and-play activities, but may come with the option of charging via a mains adapter.

Clock radio audio docks

Clock radio audio docks allow for overnight phone charging as well as alarm clock capabilities. Do be aware that these docks can also be synced with the phone so that it can be set to play a specific music file as an alarm.

iPhone audio docks

Although there are basic dock-and-play models for iPhone, there are also more advanced versions that can stream app-based audio, tune into a radio station as well as a variety of other functions. If universal functionality is required, however, do check that the audio dock is compatible to other devices in the range.

Android audio docks

Just as with the iPhone, manufacturers have developed android specific audio docks. Unlike the iPhone, however, an android device can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with varied port placement. Although there are some systems that come with micro-USB connectors that slide, tilt, and swivel to offer universal connection facilities, do check that the dock and phone pair well, consulting the manual before purchase.

Dual audio docks

Dual docks are designed to be compatible with the ports on every phone. These are the most versatile of dock as they are not limited to any one style, make, or model of device. They are available with wireless options, but do be aware that 'dual audio dock' may also refer to a unit that is capable of concurrently charging two devices from the same brand.

Bluetooth audio dock

Bluetooth integrated audio docks are arguably some of the most advanced devices available. Incorporating Bluetooth wireless technology, many of these models can stream app-based music while maintaining full phone functionality. That is to say, it is possible to use email, text, or even web surf without interrupting the audio. Indeed, the phone does not even need to be docked to utilise the speakers. There is even the option, with certain models, to share audio files throughout the home, instigating a multi-room playlist system.

Charging Mats

Functioning much like a docking station, a charging mat uses contact points to transfer electricity and power up a mobile phone. Wireless pads can not only negate the need for unwieldy power cables, but can also concurrently charge several devices at the same time. As with docks and adapters, however, it is important to check that each device is compatible with the charging mat.

How to Buy Digital Camera Accessories on eBay

To buy digital camera flashes, first go to the eBay homepage, opening the All Categories tab, then scroll down the page until you see Electronics & Technology, click the Mobile & Home Phones tab and then select Mobile Phone & PDA Accessories. Chargers and Docks will then appear in the left hand filter, and clicking on the required device will bring up all the item listings available. Alternatively, use the bar at the top of any eBay page and type in "mobile phone charging dock".


Manufacturers will always provide instruction manuals, and there will be clear direction as to the product requirements for phone chargers and docking stations. In order to ensure full functionality, it is advisable to adhere to all recommendations. It is important not to rely on visual assumptions of compatibility, as an ill-fitting charger may not only poorly charge the device, but may actually cause damage to the mobile phone. As well as wall socket and USB chargers, there are adapters that can be used to charge phones in cars and other vehicles, or even solar chargers that can be used in the wilderness or when far away from more traditional power sources. Docking stations can not only act as a power source, but some models can also be utilised as speakers, alarm clocks, radios, wireless audio units, or music streaming facilitators. Not all docking stations are developed to charge phones, so it is wise to check all functions and specifications before purchase, and some models can charge multiple devices concurrently.

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