Gucci – Volonic Valet 3 review: A pricey designer FreePower system
Today, we are taking a hands-on look at the Volonic Valet 3 charging system. This high-end wireless solution takes a cue from fashion design houses and Apple aesthetics to provide a luxurious and elegant charging pad with a price to match. Yes, there are more affordable options out there, but not very many that are quite as gorgeous — this is a true piece of functional art, in my opinion, with a sophisticated look and precision design approach. But is the steep price tag worth the price of entry? Read on for a closer look at the Volonic Valet 3 charging system.
Volonic Valet 3 Packaging
When I purchase a premium product, I expect the packaging to be premium as well. While it certainly doesn’t end up meaning anything in the end — it is, after all, a bunch of cardboard to ship the item in and make you feel like you got a little extra for your spend — Volonic has clearly taken a nod from the high-end designer fashion houses and even Apple to some degree to create a package worthy of the exorbitant price tag here.
A sort of thick white cardboard sheath adorned with the brand’s silver “V” logo is wrapped in another more typical black box. All of that carries a jewelry box-looking case with a well-made lift-up top and a particularly notable metal-looking handle attached to the front that really ties the entire package together. Again, it is certainly just a bunch of meaningless extras in the end, but also an elevated take on the packaging Apple has made famous and something that I, for one, really appreciate when spending this kind of cash. It’s enough of a designer Gucci approach that you won’t want to just throw it away like some of the tech accessory delivery vessels you have discarded over the years.
Custom wall charger and USB-C charging cable
The same approach moves through the design of the custom wall charger and USB-C charging cable. Both available in your choice of black or white/silver to match your Valet 3 charge pad, it’s a slightly more robust skipping rope-style cable, complete with one of those rubber ties to keep things tidy, and a compact wall charger with thoughtful Volonic branding on the side and a small version of that “V” logo (that is growing on me by the day) on display once it’s plugged in. There’s nothing particularly special about either of them, but again the elevated take on the accessories and just a bit more attention to details further highlight the high-end approach.
The frame of the actual Valet 3 charging pad is available in a “decorative” anodized aluminum (black or silver) or a “reflective painted surface” Volonic refers to as Grand Piano (black or white). I have only had a chance to go hands-on with the silver anodized aluminum take here, but so far, so good.
A gorgeous, sort of chamfered or beveled edge wraps around the frame, making for a sleek bezel that doesn’t look out of place next to a modern MacBook Pro. This thing is quite heavy and sturdy, too — there is no chance, unless you specifically bump into it, that it will move around on you or inconveniently slide out of place while you’re taking your gear for the day. Your choice of rubber foot pads along the bottom help the cause here as well as maintain an extremely low profile that makes the Valet 3 look like it’s just barely floating above the tabletop.
Sitting just above the machined frame here is the soft fabric or leather adorned three-device charging pad area. Resting just barely above the bezel (a matter of millimeters), in combination with the angled bevel, allows devices that stick out (almost all iPhones) to easily clear the edge without coming in contact with the frame — ensuring a scratch-free experience for both your smartphone and the Valet 3 itself.
In terms of the charging pad area’s durability, this is the kind of thing that will need, more than likely, years of use before we will even know how well it will hold up to the riggers of daily use. But thus far, after a few weeks of heavy traffic — multiple smartphones, with cases and without, as well as AirPods and other wireless headphones cases — everything is in great shape.
Design your own Volonic Valet 3 charging pad
The Volonic Valet 3 can be purchased in four pre-designed colorways/designs, but you can also try your hand out at designing your own via the brand’s online Valet 3 Configurator. Ranging from anodized aluminum and a “grand piano” finish for the frame/body, you can take your pick of material and color for the top pad itself — fashion-grade Alcantara and various leathers including Lamborghini, Mercedes, and Ferrari tones/grains. After that, customers can choose between a couple of styles for the bottom feet, as well as the option of a black or white/silver charger and USB-C cable combo.
You can also choose how you want the Volonic logo sitting along the front-middle of the frame to appear: Stealth (seen above), Bright Chrome, Black Chrome, or Gunmetal Grey.
It’s not the most involved online editor we have seen, but it’s essentially on par with other tech accessory brands that offer this sort of thing and really seems to stand out in the premium, high-end space in that way. Some are used to paying for premium gear, fashion, or otherwise, literally for the designs, logos, and brand recognition it tends to offer off the shelf. However, Volonic has managed to achieve this with some customer choice while still maintaining its high-end approach here — more like a custom Rolls Royce than a pre-made Saint Laurent sweater off the rack at Neiman’s.
Aira FreePower technology
The Valet 3 makes use of the Aira FreePower technology we have seen in a few other higher-end wireless charging pads, and it is a great experience here as well. Carrying an 18 coil matrix, it beams an optimal amount of juice to up to three Qi-ready devices simultaneously with a full-surface, position-free experience. That means, like with other FreePower gear, your smartphones and AirPod cases can essentially just get thrown on there without worrying about their exact position or that the wireless charging wasn’t engaged because you haphazardly dropped your iPhone on their one time. The Valet 3 FreePower experience is very much the same as it is on other devices, just in an even more elegant and gorgeous package.
Three discreet charging indicator LEDs are housed directly in the frame just below the main logo to let you know power transfer has been engaged. Subtle and almost hidden on the underside of the frame’s angled bevel, there’s nothing overly remarkable to speak of here; it’s just another elegant way to add some function to this fashionable charging device. In dark conditions, they reflect a cool white illumination on the tabletop and are otherwise mostly out of the way. I, for one, do not appreciate ugly bright LEDs that can turn an otherwise pretty piece of functional art into a modem-looking thing that should be tucked away in a closet or something.
In the end, the experience thus far has been a wonderful one. It’s just a shame that some folks just aren’t going to be willing to shell out this kind of dough to get it. There are other solutions out there that will provide a similar experience, Aira FreePower tech included, at a much lower price point, but they certainly aren’t quite on the same level in terms of luxury, if you ask me.
There are plenty of affordable sweaters out there, for example, that look and function perfectly, but there’s just something beautiful about a knit Burberry jumper or a gorgeous Gucci appliqué you won’t get on more affordable products that are essentially the same otherwise. For some, the high-end options are always going to be a rip-off, and for others, they are worth every penny for the extra attention to detail, elegance, and brand recognition. Is it overpriced? Yes, yes it is, just like a designer pair of shoes is.
Volonic certainly falls more into this high-end, indulgent category with a starting price of $585, despite its lack of name recognition by comparison to world-renown fashion houses. So while it isn’t for everyone, it is a pretty option that stands out in a world of flat black Qi pads that even provides its customers some authorship over their new charging pad, all without compromising the high-end, fashionable approach here, but it is certainly going to cost you.
Buy the Volonic Valet 3 now
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Gucci – Volonic Valet 3 review: A pricey designer FreePower system