Intelli StepUp Charging Station review: Retractable charging gimmick spoils a good charger


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The Intelli StepUp Charging Station attempts to stand out from the multitude of 3-in-1 chargers with awkward pop-out charging pads.

There are a few aspects to like about the Intelli StepUp, from its dark aluminum finish to its 15W MagSafe charging. However, the 3-in-1 charger has a convertible gimmick that introduces more problems than it solves.

The MagSafe charger is front and center, with a dedicated AirPods Qi charger and an Apple Watch charger built into the base. When everything is set to charge, it displays your products smartly, with screens showing charging information and notifications at a good viewing angle.

Intelli StepUp Charging Station design

The stand has an outer shell made of soft brushed aluminum with plastic parts around the chargers and a rubber base. It is incredibly light, but maybe too light given it uses magnets to hold the iPhone in place.

The glossy plastic cover on the top isn’t ideal

The MagSafe charger section is covered by a glossy plastic material that can easily collect fingerprints. When an iPhone isn’t on the charger, the plastic is oddly distracting with how it catches and reflects light.

There are two charging pads hidden in the stand meant for the AirPods and an Apple Watch.

Each pad can be hidden within the stand when not in use. They can be pressed into the stand, locking with a click, while another press frees the pads so they can be pulled out.

The base has a blue LED that lights up when charging begins

The base has a blue LED that lights up when charging begins

These charging pads are hard plastic and don’t sit perfectly in their slots. You can easily wiggle the pads around as if they are not entirely set in place.

Overall, the construction doesn’t seem as premium as other desktop chargers in its price range like those made by Satechi or Nomad. The materials, weight, and rickety design might be excusable if only for the 15W MagSafe charger, but it is priced high given the material design.

Specs

  • iPhone MagSafe Charger — 15W
  • Apple Watch charger — 2.5W
  • AirPods charger — 5W

    • Using the Intelli StepUp Charging Station

      We like the 40-degree angle the iPhone sits at while charging via MagSafe. It uses the full 15W wireless charging capability of MagSafe, and it even shows the charging animation played when using certified Apple MagSafe charging pucks.

      Pushing in the charging pads makes the stand take up a little less space
      Pushing in the charging pads makes the stand take up a little less space

      Because there isn’t any lip or support structure, you can rotate the iPhone freely on the MagSafe charger. So, you could turn the iPhone to landscape to watch a video while it is charging. The Apple Watch is also displayed on the stand at a decent angle. Tapping somewhere on the desk near enough to wake the Apple Watch gives us a clear view of the charging level and time. How the iPhone and accessories are displayed on the charging station is nice and looks great on our desk. However, the large Intelli logo on the front might be an eyesore to some who prefer not to see heavy branding on their accessories. If this were a stationary charger priced more competitively for its build, it would make a great desktop charger. However, a few problems with general use make it a worse experience overall.

      The iPhone sits at a 40-degree angle
      The iPhone sits at a 40-degree angle

      The charging station is too light. You’ll pick up the entire charger if you attempt to remove your iPhone from the MagSafe charger without applying pressure to the base. However, there is a trick to it in that the iPhone can just slide off if you pull it down a certain way, but that isn’t ideal. The pop-out chargers for the AirPods and Apple Watch take away from the charger in multiple ways too. We already mentioned the construction isn’t of good quality around the pads, but the experience of using the pop-out mechanisms is lacking too. Pressing one of the charging pads to free it from the stand pops loose from a spring mechanism holding it in. You’re then expected to grab the pad and pull it out until it locks in the open position. However, the pad barely pops out in the first place, requiring you to pinch a tiny bit of plastic to begin pulling out the pad. While we don’t expect the pad to spring to a fully locked and open position, we’d like it to pop out at least enough that there’s something to grab. Again, the lightweight base means the entire stand moves around while you press and pull the pad.

      Should you buy the Intelli StepUp Charging Station?


      We're not sure what problem retractable charging pads are trying to solve
      We’re not sure what problem retractable charging pads are trying to solve

      There are many 3-in-1 charging stations with a magnetic iPhone charger, Apple Watch charger, and AirPods charger built-in. The only redeeming factor of the Intelli StepUp is it has 15W MagSafe charging, while other chargers in its price range often only have 7.5W. We’re not entirely sure what problem Intelli is trying to solve with hideaway charging pads that spring out from the base. It isn’t exactly a travel-friendly charger, nor is it saving much desk space with the pads hidden. Perhaps, if the charging station were solid aluminum, with aluminum charging pads that don’t move, and the entire thing was much heavier — we’d be more interested in this charger. However, we can’t recommend the Intelli StepUp charging station to anyone unless they find this is the cheapest way to get a 15W MagSafe 3-in-1 charger.

      Pro


      • 15W MagSafe charging
      • Good viewing angle

Cons

  • Too light
  • Construction doesn’t feel solid
  • Glossy, fingerprint-magnet iPhone charging pad
  • Sliding pad gimmick doesn’t seem to serve any purpose

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Where to buy

Buy the Intelli StepUp Charging Station from the Intelli website for $119.99.

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