Review: Nokia "Extra Power" DC-11 charger
In one of those "why the heck haven't we reviewed this before?" moments, I look at Nokia's really rather spectacularly useful DC-11 universal charger. Talk about hiding its light under a bushel, the DC-11 has several rather unique benefits - though if you want to avail yourself of one you might have to shop around, since at full RRP it's on the expensive side!
Now, rechargeable batteries for topping up phones 'on the go' have been around for ages, of course. You'll remember my dalliances with the Proporta chargers, for example? The DC-11, at a 'mere' 1500mAh, is one of the smallest capacity mobile chargers I've tested, but it does have two unique selling points.
Firstly, it's custom designed for the voltages and currents expected by modern Symbian smartphones. If, like me, you've tried charging a Nokia N86 or N97 or E7 (and other micro-USB devices) using a Proporta or similar unit, you'll know how frustrating it can be to finally achieve that elusive 'Charging' prompt and beep.... The DC-11, as you'd expect, has been designed with Nokia's somewhat fussy charging electronics in mind from the outset. It just works. In fact, it works so well that you can charge two devices at once, i.e one via the integral 2mm pin and another via the integral microUSB jack.
Secondly, the DC-11 can go one step better. Even while charging up to two smartphones, you can plug the unit itself in, so that it charges and passes on mains charge through to the two connected devices. That's a neat trick and means that you can leave the DC-11 plugged in most of the time, as your universal charging accessory on your desk. And then, when you head off on a trip, you unplug it, safe in the knowledge that it's charged to 100%. Good design and very, very handy.
To start charging, you simply hook up and press the power button on the top. When not in use, each of the flying leads is rested inside the hollow side edges of the DC-11, with the connectors themselves plugging into plastic dummy sockets in the unit's two ends. It's a lovely bit of hardware design and helps keep things very neat. If your Symbian (and other OS) smartphones are a mix of 2mm and microUSB then this one unit with integral wires will be all you need, with no fiddly adapters to lose in your briefcase or rucksack.
The perfect accessory? Well, almost. There are a number of caveats that spoil what might otherwise have been a 90%+ score:
- The overall capacity of 1500mAh is, once you factor in typical electrical charging inefficiencies, only practically enough to put about 1000mAh into a recipient device. So we're talking about taking an N8 or E7 (both pictured above) from about 20% charge to full charge. This in itself is very handy, but that's it - there's nothing left in the tank and the DC-11 then needs to be plugged in again for a (two hours or so) charge. Making the accessory perfect for day trips but not for the wild camper or hiker intending to be away for the week!
- Charging the DC-11 has to be via a 2mm jack - there's no way to plug in a microUSB charger, as-is - which is a shame. Not that Nokia 2mm chargers are hard to come by, but I'd have thought that adding both methods for power injection wouldn't have added more than a Euro to the build cost..... [Note that you can charge the DC-11 via USB if you really must, using a different accessory/adapter, the CA-100]
- The DC-11 is expensive, at over £40 at full RRP, at which price it's hardly an impulse accessory purchase. I managed to pick up this new one on Amazon in their sale at £23 but you may wish to shop around, especially as many Nokia accessories are now being discounted given the times we're living in.
- There's no indication of the state of charge in the accessory. I guess with only 1500mAh this isn't essential, i.e. it'll either be charged or discharged, but a little LED meter, especially at this price, would have been nice....
Overall, though, the DC-11, despite its moderate capacity, just became my new favourite mobile battery/charger. It charges all my Nokia phones of the last few years, without a single 'Not charging' error. Result!
Steve Litchfield, All About Symbian, 7 June 2011
Reviewed by Steve Litchfield at