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Posts: 167 | Thanked: 204 times | Joined on Jul 2010
I've read with interest many approaches to charging the N900 besides than using the standard USB cable, normally involving induction chargers, soldering, Mugen covers and all sorts of modifications that are, shall we say, for electronics engineers only.

I'm wondering how easy it would be to achieve bolt-on magnetic charger connections, to an unmodified N900 (or Neo900 or anything else), using an adapter that should cost next to nothing to manufacture.

I refer to the charging connector used by Sony, which is basically two pins and a piece of ferrous metal on the outside of the phone, and two pins and a magnet on the cable. (for those unfamiliar, see Google Images for the connector type.) The connector itself is small enough that it should be feasible to create a microUSB dongle that protrudes no more than about 3mm from the end of the phone (or integrate one into the back of the phone, for the more adventurous). OK, it's not strictly wireless charging, but it allows for just clipping a compatible cable on the outside of the phone (minimal force breaks the magnetic bond without damaging anything), and possibly for the creation of a crude charging dock i.e. slide the phone in to make contact with the magnetic connector.

Regrettably there isn't a suitable component available off the shelf yet; adaptors for microUSB to Sony-style magnetic charger are readily available, but not the reverse. Why not, I don't know, because Sony's charging setup supplies a straight 5V over USB, so a magnetic to microUSB male connector (with data pins shorted) would work with anything that takes charge over microUSB.

Not, of course, with a docking unit designed to fit a Sony, which may be why the market hasn't seen the need, but the same magnetic connector is available on regular USB cables, retractable USB cables, microUSB converters and whatever else. All we need is the female magnetic connector ( in a low-profile housing (perhaps rubberised?) with a microUSB male on it; seeing the connector, I think it could be made unobtrusive enough to remain on the phone.

This leads me to two ideas: firstly, that a suitable dongle + cable would be marketable to more than just N900 users; could be worth a word with those who are manufacturing after-market cables for Sony phones and suggesting a kit to add magnetic contacts to any microUSB setup (a good opportunity to cross-sell their existing adaptors and cables). Secondly, whether N900 modders and / or the Neo900 crew might like to contemplate a way of integrating a magnetic charging connector into their product. Besides reducing wear on the USB port, and perhaps allowing for docking, it could in theory integrate with a charging case, external battery pack, clip-on extended battery or whatever.

It's no longer an urgent need for me - the N900 is no longer my primary phone - but it seems trivial to do in comparison with induction charging or fitting barrel-style charging ports (both of which have been done), so thought I'd throw it out there. Any thoughts?

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