Elago Game Boy style MagSafe iPhone charger looks fun but comes up short

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, as proven by the number of successful crowdfunded projects and launched products that try to capitalize on this ongoing retro trend, especially in the gaming industry. Vintage designs of the past are today’s quirky oddities, and there are many who are quick to jump on the bandwagon. While many of these retro designs try to also recreate the experience of holding a real gaming console or turntable with some modern features and conveniences, others are just content to copy the aesthetics of old-school products and leave it at that. This MagSafe iPhone charger might be in that latter category, and while it is charming in the way it brings back fun, playful memories, it could have probably gone further if it really wanted to.

Designer: Elago

To be fair, the Elago WS M5 Charging Stand does exactly what it says it does, which is to offer a fun MagSafe charger in the design of the Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP. In that regard, it does its job well, providing a stable and useful stand for charging the phone. The fixed 30-degree angle, for example, is claimed to be perfect for watching videos or using iOS Standby Mode at night. It even has helpful support on its back to prevent the charger from tipping backward from the weight of the phone.

Elago never claimed that the stand was a functional gaming device, despite all visual indicators. It’s simply meant to inspire a trip down memory lane and nothing more. The buttons do nothing and you can’t fold the charger close like the original handheld it was based on. For a $25 MagSafe charging stand, that’s a bit disappointing. It sort of raises expectations and then dashes them quickly, making those good old days really feel more like a distant memory.

It’s also a missed opportunity for innovation and distinction. Sure, it won’t make much sense to turn it into a makeshift game controller, but having the buttons trigger some action on the phone or do anything at all is significantly better than making you feel like an idiot for expecting that a button press would actually result in something. A clamshell design would have also made this charging stand a bit more portable while relying on a kickstand mechanism to provide that same stability and support.

What this Game Boy-like MagSafe charger really accomplishes is to demonstrate the biggest benefit of this magnetic wireless charging technology. Sure, charging without cables is convenient, but its speed still leaves a lot to be desired. Instead, it’s the freedom to design a wider variety of accessories, from chargers to stands to docks, that MagSafe really shines, and this Elago WS M5, underwhelming as it might be, is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible.