With the advent of technologies such as arc lighters, the traditional 12v cigarette port in your car has less of a defined roll. In an ideal world, every car would replace that heating element with a device that sports two 2.4A USB charging ports along with its own integrated hands free headset. With such innovations in mind, Evoplus present the Q9, a compact and ridiculously convenient gadget that does just that, covering all of your smart power needs along with a few more subtle extras. For just $30 USD, the Q9 has ambition and perhaps enough subtlety of design to pull it off, let’s take a look.
I would like to thank Tina from Origem very much for providing me with a review unit of the Q9. There is no monetary incentive for a positive review and despite receiving the produce free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible during my evaluation.
The un-boxing experience is better than most budget products with a well printed box and magnetic window that showcases the sleek Q9 within. Unfortunately the design of the front doesn’t well reflect that of the Q9 itself with a rather eclectic mash of icons and fonts.
To say the least, redesigned packaging would go a long way to make the Q9 feel like a top tier product.
The rear of the box is simpler and far more pleasing with a nice render of the Q9 accompanied by simple annotations and specifications.
Inside the box buyers receive the Q9 within a protective foam inlet along with two medium sized silicone tips and one small tip in addition to another small tip already installed on the Q9. Evoplus also have an intuitive instruction manual to guide users through the setup process.
Even before considering the functionality compacted into the Q9’s frame, just scanning over the the sleek aluminium chassis makes it easy to see how the device received a reddot design award.
Whilst it’s far from the most compact 12v charging solution on the market, the somewhat elongated Q9 packs a few more features than competing models and is about as compact as the design would permit.
With an aluminium frame mated to a plastic plug, the Q9 feels premium without introducing any grounding/shorting concerns. The gloss black plastic isn’t ideal but since the entire plastic assembly inserts the 12v port and only the metal prongs make contact, the plastic remains free of scratches and generally fingerprints too.
This reveals only the sand blasted aluminium body which doesn’t look out of place even when installed within a luxury sedan. The USB ports are also well placed with just enough separation to permit two larger sized plugs.
But it’s the top of the Q9 that strikes the most interest with a dock that houses the magnetically attaching hands free headset. Although it’s not the most impressive feature on paper or on an Amazon page for that matter, small design decisions such as the ridges that run between the headset and body allow for tactility and ease of use when driving. The Q9 works really well for what it was intended.
Upon first removal of the headset I couldn’t help but be astounded at the size of it. The headset is one of the smallest I’ve ever seen and certainly one of the best built too. With a matching full aluminium build, the earpiece feels solid with machined edges creating a more comfortable fit.
Whilst the straight sound tube and circular housing do raise some red flags, the minute dimensions of the device produced an ergonomic experience in my testing and a few relatives who tested out the headset had a similar experience. The circular housing actually works to the earpiece’s advantage, locking under the outer ear with surprising stability. Using the medium eartip, I get a solid seal with passive noise isolation on par with a sealed but shallow fitting earphone. The earpiece is also quite light, whilst it doesn’t disappear in the ear, it doesn’t budge with movement. The outer face is plastic and gloss black for that matter, but luckily the single multi-function button has a tactile matte finish. A status LED lies beneath the button to denote status and connection. The outer surface also houses the microphone which did a surprising job at cancelling out external noise but still sounded slightly muffled when compared to an inline mic or dedicated headset. On account of that magnetic connection system, the earpiece is easy to reinsert; simply drop the headset in the top and twist until the pins align.
Briefly testing the two charging ports with GSam on my HTC 10 reveals the lower port outputs at 1A whilst the top only outputs at ~2A. Both worked reliably, I didn’t notice any excess heat or unstable output in my testing. There’s no quick charge, they work and that’s about it.
The headset connects through Bluetooth 4.1 which should save some power and transmit with enough bandwidth to avoid distortion. Setup and pairing is pretty simply; holding down the multi-function button for 1 second powers on the headset and enters pairing mode whereby the status LED alternates red and blue. Once paired, the button can be used to answer/hangup calls and when playing music, functions as the centre button for play/pause/track skipping functionality.
The Q9 remembers two devices but cannot switch between the two when in use. Memory is easily cleared by holding down the button for 10 seconds should you want to change phones. I’ve often had a difficult time with Bluetooth devices, in particular, headsets pairing when I don’t want them to and not pairing when I need them to, but the Q9 is actually quite pragmatic. Firstly, the headset charges via a simple two pin connection when mated with the body of the Q9 so the battery is always topped up.
The 25mah internal cell provides roughly 90 minutes of talk time, an estimate I found to be slightly optimistic, I managed to get around 75 minutes on first use, though the battery may perform better after a few cycles. The headset also automatically powers on when the car is started and powers off after 10 minutes of inactivity. I found the Q9 to pair reliably with my phone during my 2 week testing period and the battery was consistently charged by the docking mechanism. Whilst driving the magnets proved strong enough to keep the headset seated though my car does have an upwards facing 12v port, vehicles with horizontal or even downwards facing ports might run into difficulties over rougher terrain.
As far as sound quality goes, the headset uses a decent driver that produces a sound with plenty of clarity and even a surprising amount of treble response but, of course, absolutely no low end. Lower mids are a bit thin but are also very clear as a result, the brighter sound accentuates the clarity that is usually lost due to call compression. So these aren’t replacing your Bluetooth headphones anytime soon and the headset is useless for music, but for it’s intended usage of reproducing spoken voice, the headset sounds clear which is key.
Ultimately these accessory reviews come down to the all important “would I buy this myself?” question. In this case, the answer is definitely yes, but not for the dual USB ports or even aluminium build, both of these features are practically commodities in this day and age. In my testing, the most useful feature of the Q9 was actually the integrated headset which works perfectly as a standalone headset but also integrates well into the car tech ecosystem through that magnetic charging cradle and auto-on functionality. Of course I do have a few qualms with the Q9, again it’s not super compact, but I suppose if it’s just sitting in the car charger it doesn’t have to be unless you have a cramped glove box. Secondly, I wish I could just use the headset without the rest of the Q9, I simply have a hard time finding headset that fit me and the one on the Q9 is pretty much perfect. If Evoplus are unable to include a USB powered charging cradle they could at least offer it separately, I would be first in line to pick one up and many Amazon reviews state similarly. So that sums up the Q9, it’s a nicely built but otherwise unremarkable charger combined with a fantastic headset system, overall producing a very convenient package.
The charger can be purchased on Amazon, I’ll leave the links below along with an exclusive coupon code for US and UK buyers: