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A stream of consciousness.

Travelling with an iPhone


Possibly the best new feature Apple has added to its iPhone for a long time is StandBy Mode, where if you put your phone horizontally on a charger (it works best with a MagSafe/Qi, but as long as the phone is charging and horizontal it will work), it shows a special horizontal display. There are various things it will display, but the only one I ever use shows the time in big numbers, like an old clock radio. And that’s exactly how I use it -– as a bedside clock.

For an owner of a recent-ish iPhone, there wasn’t much compelling about the iPhone 15, except for USB-C. As the designated chargers-and-cables person of the household, it led to dreams of standardising everything in the house onto USB-C. The fact that this would have also required updating an iPad, various other gadgets and gizmos (some of which don’t even come in USB-C flavours) and two iPhones made this a bit of an unattainable dream, but it was a nice dream.

The unobtainable dream was even more pressing for travel. It would be nice to not have to ensure there were enough USB-C and Lightning cables to go around. But the real kicker is the Apple Watch, which requires its own special cable.

What I’m finding to be an okay solution is batteries. There are now some batteries that have built-in Lightning and Apple Watch chargers (this is the one I got – it works for me but I don’t know if it’s the best or cheapest). So I got one of those to give to the Apple Watch owner and I just have to remember to charge it occasionally (and bonus, it does pass-through charging for the Apple Watch, so you can charge the battery and the watch from the same power adapter).

But for me the greatest discovery is a MagSafe/Qi battery that has both a magnet that can hold up the iPhone (mine is a non-Max, YMMV with a bigger phone) and has a built-in kick stand. So when you’re travelling you can use it to hold your phone in StandBy mode on your bedside table, charging the phone and showing you the time.

The specific model I got doesn’t seem to be currently available, and isn’t perfect. It does support pass-through charging, but the charging port is on the bottom when it’s in kickstand mode, so you can’t have your phone displaying StandBy and charging at the same time. And Qi isn’t terribly efficient, so it will fully charge the phone overnight but the battery pack is pretty dead by the morning. I’m sure models that fix this issue exist, but mine will do for the moment1.

The batteries aren’t a good iPad/laptop solution – for that it’s still all about cables and power adapters (and Lightning cables, in our case), but for the phones and watch it’s actually a pretty workable solution.

  1. Though I do wonder why my specific model isn’t available currently, and whether I should expect my house to burn down next time I use it. ↩︎