iPhone Life magazine

PocketPlug from Prong Offers Quick Integrated Charging, but Could be Better

Prong PocketPlug for iPhone 5/5s ($69.95)

(also available for iPhone 4/4s for $59.95)

2 stars our of 5

Have you ever wanted to just plug in a nearly dead iPhone. Well now you can.

With PocketPlug from Prong, the iPhone's cases sports a pair of not-so-hidden prongs that simply fold out, ready to be inserted into a wall socket.

And that's it. You just plug in the phone and it charges quickly using enhanced charging technology. If you can't find a plug, and you own an external battery or other alternative power source, you can also charge the iPhone with a microUSB plug.

The case itself is heavy and well-constructed. When installed, the iPhone will be able to take a few bumps along the road. For the most part, the prongs stay out of the way, though I worry about snags for people who carry their iPhones in a pocket or purse. Specially constructed speaker ports enhance the sound by directing it out, and similar design directs voice toward the microphone.

So if you are looking for a way to plug in your iPhone to a standard wall plug to keep it charged, then this is probably a good choice.

The PocketPlug, could, however, be better.

First, the micro USB plug assumes someone is carrying the included micro USB cable and battery or charger. Not overall a bad assumption, especially since they provide the cable, but that someone is carrying an iPhone charger or other source of power may be a questionable assumption. And the micro USB port is there just for power. It would have been better to include a Lighting pass-thru port that would provide a source of power and also the ability to synchronize the device.

As it is, if you want to connect the iPhone to anything by Wi-Fi, it must be removed from the case. For earphones, there is no need to remove the case, but it does require an adaptor to reach into the deep bottom end to extend the port. I always think products that require extra pieces that can be lost, and can't be easily replaced, need to be redesigned.

So here's my suggestion for Prong that I hope they heed on their next generation product:

  1. Integrate the audio so that the plug inserts into the sound port at the same time the device mounts to the Lighting connector.
  2. Include a pass-thru Lightning connector for synchronization and power. This can either complement the existing micro USB port, or replace it.
  3. If they really want to take the product to the next level, Prong should include an internal battery for extended use before the need of a charge.
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Daniel Rasmus's picture

Daniel W. Rasmus, the author of Listening to the Future and Management by Design, is a strategist, industry analyst, and business correspondent for iPhone Life magazine. Prior to starting his own consulting practice, Rasmus was the Director of Business Insights at Microsoft Corporation, where he helped the company envision how people will work in the future.

Before joining Microsoft, Rasmus was Research Vice President at the Giga Information Group and Forrester Research Inc. Rasmus also is an internationally recognized speaker. He blogs regularly for Fast Company and on his own blog, Your Future in Context. His education-related work can be found at Learning Reimagined.