Chargie is a USB dongle that fits between your charger and phone and allows you to fully control when and how much to charge. I bought one to prolong the life of my original Google Pixel phone. Let’s see if it really does what it claims.
I’m using my old Google Pixel (2016) phone to upload my photos and videos to Google Photos (see my guide). One thing that worries me is longevity of the battery. Leaving any phone on charge constantly is pretty terrible for the battery, so I looked into the options for how to mitigate the issue. I started with AccuBattery – an app that gives a notification when the phone reaches your desired charge level. That’s fine if you happen to be sitting by your phone all day, but I’m using the Pixel as an always-on uploader, and FTP server, so I ideally wanted something that I could set and forget.
One solution that looked promising was Chargie, which is available from Lighty Electronics in Romania. It’s a device that acts as a switch between your standard USB charger and your phone. It pairs with the Chargie Android app (or iOS equivalent), which allows your phone to communicate with the dongle via BlueTooth. For example, when your battery level hits 50%, you could set it to switch on and charge back up to 70%. As soon as it hits the target charge level, it sends a signal to stop charging.
I ordered a single Chargie A Gold Edition which cost £29.16 (~$40) including delivery. It arrived in the UK a couple of weeks later in a small jiffy bag covered in some rather fetching Romanian stamps. Also included was a double sided instruction sheet giving details of how to get up and running. I’ve since received an updated version, courtesy of Lighty Electronics.
The first Chargie unit I received was perhaps best described as “functional” – the casing was 3D-printed and a little rough around the edges, but I didn’t buy it as a piece of sculpture. Lighty Electronics has since sent me an updated version with a resin case, which looks and feels much better – see the update. One end has a standard USB (Type A) plug, and the other has a matching socket. Plugging it into a charging port (I actually used an always-on USB port on the side of my monitor) I was greeted by red and green LEDs. These are configurable in the app and can be disabled entirely, which is useful if you’re using the Chargie in a bedroom. I connected a USB Type-A to Type-C cable to the other end, ready to connect to the phone. I installed the app and set it to charge up to 70% and drop down to 65%. This should significantly reduce wear on the battery, and keep the temperature stable. The “Hardware Limiter” function in the Chargie app gives control over the desired wattage, so you can set it to charge at a lower wattage in order to reduce the temperature. I didn’t need to use this, as I’m running from a fairly low-powered USB port.
I tested by plugging it into my Google Pixel phone, and watched as the battery charging icon appeared at 65%, and disappeared again as it hit 70%. I’ve now had the Chargie running for over a month, and the Pixel has been running perfectly 24 hours a day with the Solid Explorer’s FTP server running, and has stayed between 65 – 70% charge level.
Modern phones with non-removeable (or at least prohibitively difficult to remove) batteries often lose a significant portion of their battery life after a couple of years’ use. It’s extremely wasteful (of money, not to mention the environmental impact) to simply throw a phone away after two years. Finding a reputable company that can replace the battery with a genuine replacement for a reasonalbe price is also very difficult, at least for Android phones. I’ve bought replacement batteries in the past, but found them difficult to install without risking damage to other components, and compromising the IPXX water resistance. The replacements also never seemed to have the same life as the originals.
The Chargie works exactly as claimed. I haven’t seen any other way to achieve this, at least on an unrooted phone. I highly recommend the Chargie for this use case, and I’m tempted to buy more to use on all my phone chargers, due to the potential increase in battery lifespan. I hope a USB Type-C version is released in future, which could be used with more modern chargers (see update below).
Update – Resin Case
The kind folks at Lighty Electronics contacted me a couple of weeks ago after seeing this blog post, and offered to send me an updated Chargie complete with the new resin case, rather than the 3D printed case of the first version. This arrived today, and I’m very impressed so far. The resin case looks much more professional and makes the Chargie seem like a finished consumer product, rather than a prototype. It’s smooth to the touch, and feels premium. Functionally, it seems to be exactly the same as the first one I received, but my single criticism has been very well countered! Thanks again to Lighty Electronics.
Update – USB Type-C version
Lighty Electronics have now launched a USB Type-C version called Chargie C. As well as reducing damage to your battery by preventing overcharging, it also reduces the charging power to 8W. This helps to minimise heat and associated throttling. As it’s designed for charging your device overnight, the slightly longer charging time should have no noticeable impact. Chargie C is available to order now for £31.31 (usual price £34.65), with shipping expected in early December. They also have a well-priced, and rather fetching red USB cable to go with it for £4.33.