Stuffcool Napoleon PD65W GaN charger Review: a cool tech you need in your backpack
A 'cool' alternative to Si-based chargers — literally!
With an ever-increasing demand for products that aid with regular day-to-day tasks to help simplify and improve various aspects of life, we are inching closer towards times where we are on the verge of becoming perpetually dependent on these devices. While for some, that scenario is almost here. One of the biggest concerns, with an increase in the number of devices that one has to their name, is the need to carry (or possess) multiple chargers to charge different devices. However, thanks to the advancements in charging tech, and also technology, in general, we now have chargers that offer the convenience to charge various devices at once.
The latest charger from Stuffcool, Napoleon, is one such offering in this space that promises to offer just that. While also being unique in a different way, thanks to a new semiconductor — GaN (Gallium Nitride) — that it employs. The use of GaN technology makes the Stuffcool Napoleon the first BIS-certified GaN charger in India, and the technology also provides a few advantages over its traditional Si (Silicon) counterpart. We’ve been testing the charger for a few days, and here is our review for the same.
Design and Build
A common theme with a lot of Stuffcool products, be it their chargers or power banks, is good build quality. And the GaN Napoleon charger is no exception either. However, one of the striking aspects of the company’s latest offering, particularly with regards to the visual appearance, is the incredibly small form factor. Given that the charger comes with two ports and offers up to 65W PD output, the size of the charging brick is considerably smaller, since unlike Si-based chargers, GaN chargers require fewer components. To give you an idea of the difference in size, the Stuffcool Napoleon is approximately 40% smaller than the 61W wall charger that comes bundled with Apple’s MacBook. As a result, having a smaller footprint makes the device portable and easy to carry around.
Talking more about the product appearance, aside from the fact that the size of the brick is considerably smaller than most 60W (and above) chargers, the overall form factor feels handy and portable — albeit a bit too heavy. When it comes to design, the charger feels sturdy and of good quality. It has rounded curves along the edges that provide it a distinct look and feel than some of the boxy-design charging bricks out there. Towards the front, you get two ports: a USB-C port with 65W PD on top and a USB-A 18W port right below it. The charger comes in only one color: White.
With chargers, unlike most other products, there is not much to talk about in terms of functionality. However, as mentioned initially, the Stuffcool Napoleon is a GaN charger, which is why, unlike your regular chargers that utilize the Silicon (Si) semiconductor for internal components, a GaN-based charger employs, well, GaN (Gallium Nitride). For the uninitiated, Gallium Nitride or GaN is a semiconductor that is slowly making its way into mainstream electronics. It is increasingly being seen as a potential replacement for Silicon (Si) — a semiconductor that dominates the current electronics industry. And for quite obvious reasons.
To sum up the advantages of GaN, without going into technicalities, you can expect a GaN charger to offer more power delivery, better heat dissipation, increased safety, improved power efficiency, and, most importantly, a relatively smaller footprint than its Silicon counterpart. However, that said, those advantages and added functionality do come at a premium, which is why GaN chargers are priced significantly higher than the standard Si-based chargers with similar output and functionalities.
Coming back to functionality, the charger offers two ports: Type-C and Type-A, as already mentioned. The Type-C port offers up to 65W PD (Power Delivery) with just one port in use. USB-PD or Power Delivery is an open-standard specification for power delivery that offers up to 100W maximum output. And, it makes it easier for any manufacturer to implement the standard on any device. You can use the Type-C port to charge any device (laptops, tablets, portable gaming consoles, or even smartphones) that supports USB-PD and get a maximum of 65W output.
In our testing, we charged a 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro over the Type-C port, and on average, found the charger to juice up the battery from 5-100% in close to two hours, with a complete charge taking around 2 hours and 20 minutes. When compared with the charging speeds offered by the 61W bundled charger of the MacBook Pro, the charging times were pretty much the same. Although, unlike the Apple charger, which usually gets slightly hot while delivering power, the Stuffcool Napoleon did not display any heat up whatsoever.
Moving right along and talking about the other port: USB Type-A, you get QC 3.0 charging support. QC or Quick Charge is Qualcomm’s proprietary fast charging solution for power delivery on devices that rely on Qualcomm SoCs. So, if you have smartphones that support QC charging, you can use the 18W Type-A port to charge these devices.
In addition to that, the port also supports PPS (Programmable Power Supply), which, as the name implies, automatically detects and controls the output power depending on the device’s specifications. The PPS standard is most commonly found on Samsung devices. So if you own one, you can charge it using the 18W port on Napoleon. For benchmarking the charging time, we used the 18W Type-A port on the charger to charge an iPhone 11 Pro Max. And, on average, found out the charging times to be around 2.5 hours for a charge from 15-100%, while a complete charge took close to 3 hours. On the other hand, when the phone was charged using the 18W charger that comes bundled with the device, using the USB-C to Lightning cable, surprisingly, the Apple charger managed to charge the device a bit faster and performed a charge from 14-100% in around 2 hours. Whereas, a full charge took close to 2 hours and 20 minutes.
[Note: While benchmarking times on iPhone, the Optimised Battery Charging feature was turned ON during charging using both chargers.]
Since the Napoleon GaN charger comes with two ports and offers support for simultaneous charging, you can use both ports at the same time to charge different devices at once. However, when both ports are put to charge devices in tandem, the maximum output for the USB-C port comes down from 65W to 45W, whereas, the 18W output on the USB-A port remains unaffected. What this means is that, if you plan to use the Type-A port to charge your smartphone and the Type-C port to charge your laptop, your phone can charge over a maximum of 18W, while the laptop can only draw 45W power at maximum.
When fast charging technology is provided on smartphones and chargers, certain security checks are needed to be employed to keep things under control. As we already mentioned at the beginning, the Stuffcool Napoleon charger is BIS-certified, which implies that it meets all the requirements and safeguards as mandated by the authority. However, to give you a rundown on some of the essential measures in place, the charger incorporates a 6-layer protection system to safeguard against short-circuit, over-voltage/over-current, and over-temperature protection, among other things.
With all said and done, it is now down to the ultimate question: should you buy the Stuffcool Napoleon GaN charger?
Well, the answer to that is not binary, as it essentially boils down to what it is that you want (or are looking to get) out of a charger. If you are someone, who is tired of having to carry around or possess multiple chargers to charge all your different devices, and want a charger that follows the one-size-fits-all approach, the Stuffcool Napoleon 65W GaN charger is a good option to consider. Primarily because, aside from the portability and convenience that the charger has to offer, there is no denying the fact that it also performs pretty well. And as stated several times, it employs GaN.
So if that is something you are looking for or have been wanting to buy all this time, the Stuffcool Napoleon is a safe bet. Albeit a bit expensive, coming in at Rs 3,599 (~USD 48), the build quality and functionality of the charger is something that justifies its price fairly decently. And, when compared to some of the other GaN chargers (not specifically Indian), the Stuffcool Napoleon finds itself in a similar price range next to some of the other GaN chargers from popular brands, which makes it a considerable fast charging solution out there for all your charging needs.
- Small size
- Stays cool when charging
- Only available GaN charger in India
- Just nitpicking, would have been nice if StuffCool packed in a cable in the box
|Design & Build||
With an ever-increasing number of devices to our name, the need for a one-size-fits-all charger is on an all-time high. And the Stuffcool Napoleon 65W PD GaN charger promises to offer just that.