Review: Twelve South Offers a Creative Solution to Wireless iPhone Charging With the 'PowerPic'

by

Since the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus introduced Qi wireless charging into Apple products for the first time last year, more and more users have begun hunting for the best wireless charging pad out there. We've detailed this topic in numerous posts over the past year, and in the end, many buying recommendations for Qi mats come down to support for Apple's 7.5W fast wireless charging and overall design.


In both categories, Twelve South's all new PowerPic Frame for iPhone excels. The accessory is a wooden picture frame that fits any vertically framed 5"x7" photo, while also charging any Qi-compatible smartphone. In Apple's lineup of devices, that means it supports the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, and XR, but if you use Google or other Android smartphones that have Qi wireless charging, you can use the PowerPic as well.

Setup

PowerPic essentially comes in three pieces: the wooden picture frame, the back plate that makes up the main charging section of the device, and a small metal support arm. The support arm connects easily into the back of the PowerPic, and a little cutout allows for cable organization.


The included cable is a 1.5m USB-C to USB-A cable. PowerPic doesn't come with an AC adapter, so if you want to plug it into a wall then your outlet will need a USB socket, or you can use any traditional wall adapter brick.


To change the image in the frame, PowerPic is built like a regular picture frame. The back has small clips that hold the charging plate in place, and if you swivel these clips away, the plate will disengage from the wooden frame. Even with the added weight of the charging plate, PowerPic didn't feel particularly heavy to me, and the support arm kept the accessory nice and sturdy wherever I placed it.

Daily Use

When simply sitting on a countertop or bookshelf, the PowerPic is truly deceptive because it looks so similar to a traditional photo frame. It’s only when you look behind it at the large, circular charging plate that things look different. PowerPic comes in both white and black, but I only had the chance to see white in person.


The rear plate is where PowerPic provides a few LED status lights: blue for device charging, green for a full charge, and flashing blue for a foreign object warning. Of course, I tended to simply tap my iPhone to see how far it had progressed with charging, so I didn't rely much on the first two LEDs.

The flashing LED may be useful for those with wallet cases, as the PowerPic can warn you when something like a metallic card is sitting between your iPhone and the PowerPic's charging plate. While this is a helpful addition, in most placement situations you will have to physically pick up the PowerPic to check on the light. However, as far as Qi charger LEDs go, PowerPic's was soft and unobtrusive during the night, so I never minded the rear placement.


For the past few days, I've relied on PowerPic to charge my iPhone X and came away with many of the same statistics as wireless chargers from other companies. PowerPic is great for trickle charging a smartphone over long periods of time, and makes for a quality bedside accessory.

My iPhone was topped off every morning, and I really liked that it decluttered my bedside table since I typically do have one picture frame and one wireless charger, along with a lamp and a few books, occupying the same space. It can be a bit of a fumble to access your iPhone if you need to in the middle of the night, however, particularly if you're used to horizontal chargers.


Additionally, the central placement of the coil in the PowerPic requires the iPhone to be placed in the exact center of the photo. This can be a problem for any time you aren't paying attention to where you set down the iPhone, like in a dark room at night.

Outside of the bedroom, one of my favorite placements for the PowerPic was the kitchen. I always have some kind of vertical wireless charger next to my oven to place my iPhone X on while I cook. This way, I can follow recipes, watch videos, read articles and texts, and activate Face ID, all while my iPhone charges. PowerPic was a great alternative solution for this, although it does not support landscape videos and only charges the iPhone vertically.


I never thought that any of the wireless chargers I previously had in my kitchen were obtrusive or distracting, but replacing them with a simple picture frame has been more enjoyable than I thought it would be; there's something more attractive about the PowerPic in most situations where you use a Qi mat.

PowerPic supports 10W wireless charging, which means Apple's 7.5W fast charging is supported. In my time with the accessory, I found my iPhone X to fuel up at the same rate as chargers I've recently used by Belkin, Mophie, and ZENS. This means PowerPic is great for a quick top-off (my iPhone X rose from 74 percent to 95 percent in just about one hour), and downtime charging, when you don't really need to physically pick up your iPhone for anything. A longer charge, from 40 percent to 100 percent, took just over two and a half hours.

Twelve South offers some frame and iPhone wallpaper combinations that make for nice visuals on the PowerPic, but in normal use your iPhone will most often be on a black screen when it's charging. Because of this, the novelty of the dual-image idea wears off pretty fast. I tried out a few of Twelve South's downloadable images, but mostly ended up just using PowerPic as any normal frame, filling it with pictures of my niece and nephew, or my family on vacation.

Twelve South's holiday-themed downloadable images

It turns out I have way more horizontal photos than vertical photos, so that was one of the biggest downsides of the PowerPic. Although the frame itself sits well horizontally, your iPhone will not charge in this orientation since it doesn't hit the charging coil's sweet spot when it's horizontal.

Bottom Line

Despite a few negatives, Twelve South's PowerPic is a well-made and distinctive Qi wireless charger that declutters your home or office with a 2-in-1 one charging solution.


The price is slightly steep for a wireless charger, but Twelve South's quality can be seen in the build of the frame, and the user experience has essentially been frictionless for the past week that I've used it.

How to Buy

You can purchase Twelve South's PowerPic Wireless Charger on the company's website for $79.99.

Twelve South provided MacRumors with one PowerPic Wireless Charger for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
24 months ago

It is idiotic. I’d fire whoever came up with this idea.

Well considering it was our owner and co-founder's idea I think a "firing" might be a bit excessive... ;p
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago

Jeez.. Is that me or its really idiotic idea?

It's you.
[doublepost=1542204654][/doublepost]

Here's an idea: Let's COVER UP the picture in our frame we're trying to show and bought this product for!

Interesting concept, but no fanks.

Wireless chargers work best over a long period of time.
Like when you're asleep.
Like when you've got your eyes closed and are not looking at pictures in frames.
So yeah, it works pretty well...

It's a picture when you're awake, and a charger when you're asleep?
What's not to get, and what's not to like about that?
This is such a basically simple but brilliant idea!
If I didn't already have a brand new Logitech upright stand next to my bed, I would buy one of these.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Jeez.. Is that me or its really idiotic idea?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Plus, if you don't want to spend $80, you can try a DIY solution.



Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Its a clever way to hide yet another piece of technology in our homes.

While I do not have a bedside or end table charger, if I did, I would much rather see a picture sitting in its place for most of the day and only cover it up while charging. The other option is to have a visible piece of technology sitting on my table that only gets used a small portion of the day.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
This review did nothing to help me not want a pair of these, one for my girlfriend and one for myself. :p
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Here's How You Can Download iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 Around the World [It's Out]

Wednesday September 16, 2020 2:36 am PDT by
Apple's official public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 dropped on Wednesday, September 16, just a day after the company released the Golden Master to third-party developers. Also set to be made available to the general public for the first time are watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. Getting Started With iOS 14 Video Click image to watch iOS 14 Getting Started While that's left a lot of developers...

When Will the iPhone 12 Launch? Here's What We Know

Wednesday September 16, 2020 6:12 am PDT by
Yesterday's "Time Flies" Apple event saw the release of the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch SE, iPad 8, and iPad Air 4, but no new iPhone models. Rumors before the event strongly alleged that it would not see the unveiling of new iPhones, with many reports pointing to an October launch. The lack of new iPhone models yesterday seems to confirm that the iPhone 12 lineup will not appear...

Apple Releases iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 With Home Screen Redesign, App Library, Compact UI, Translate App, Scribble Support, App Clips, and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple has released iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, the newest operating system updates designed for the iPhone and iPad. As with all of Apple's software updates, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 can be downloaded for free. iOS 14 is available on the iPhone 6s and later, while iPadOS 14 is available on the iPad Air 2 and later. The updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To ...

Apple Releases Safari 14 for Mac Ahead of macOS Big Sur Launch

Wednesday September 16, 2020 1:40 pm PDT by
macOS Big Sur didn't launch alongside iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 today, with the update coming later this fall, but Apple did release the Safari 14 update for macOS Catalina and macOS Mojave users. Safari 14 brings improved performance, customizable start pages, a Privacy Report to see which cross-site trackers are being blocked, and a new tab bar design that provides tab...

Apple Updates AirPods 2 and AirPods Pro Firmware to Version 3A283

Monday September 14, 2020 11:24 am PDT by
Apple today released new 3A283 firmware updates for the second-generation AirPods and the AirPods Pro. The second-generation AirPods are being updated from the 2D15 firmware they were previously running, while the AirPods Pros are being updated from the 2D27 firmware they had installed previously. Apple does not provide details on what's included in refreshed firmware so we don't know what's ...

iOS 14 Picture in Picture No Longer Working With YouTube's Mobile Website in Safari [Without Premium]

Friday September 18, 2020 12:21 pm PDT by
Apple in iOS 14 added Picture in Picture to the iPhone, a feature designed to let you watch a video in a small screen on your device while you continue to do other things on the phone. When Picture in Picture was working with YouTube The YouTube app doesn't support Picture in Picture, but up until yesterday there was a functional workaround that allowed videos from YouTube.com to be watched...

Hands-On With the New Apple Watch Series 6 and Apple Watch SE

Friday September 18, 2020 1:19 pm PDT by
Today's the official launch date for the Apple Watch Series 6 and the Apple Watch SE, both of which Apple announced on Tuesday. We picked up a couple of the new models and thought we'd give them a quick look for MacRumors readers thinking of ordering a new watch. Apple Watch Series 6 & Apple Watch SE Hands-On! When it comes to design, both the $399 Series 6 and the $279 SE look just like...

iOS 14.2 Beta Adds New Shazam Music Recognition Feature for Control Center

Thursday September 17, 2020 3:36 pm PDT by
Apple today released the first beta of iOS 14.2 to developers for testing purposes, and the new update introduces a Music Recognition control for the Control Center. The new feature lets you discover music playing around you and it recognizes the music playing with in apps, even when you're wearing AirPods. Songs pop up as notifications, and you can tap to listen in Apple Music....

8 Third-Party Home Screen Widgets That You Can Try Out Now on iOS 14

Wednesday August 5, 2020 12:56 pm PDT by
One of the biggest new features of iOS 14 is Home Screen widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. The widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. When the iOS 14 beta was first released in June, widgets were limited to Apple's own apps like Calendar and Weather, but several third-party developers have begun to test ...

Apple Releases watchOS 7 With New Watch Faces, Family Setup, Sleep Tracking, Handwashing Help and More

Wednesday September 16, 2020 12:47 pm PDT by
Apple today released watchOS 7, the newest version of the watchOS operating system designed to run on modern Apple Watch models. The watchOS 7 update comes after several months of beta testing. ‌watchOS 7‌ can be downloaded for free through the dedicated Apple Watch app on the iPhone by going to General > Software Update. To install the new software, the Apple Watch needs to have at...