NITECORE NITECORE I4 reviews
Video Transcript: Nitecore I4 Intellicharger (2016 version) - Review and Test by Mr Baz Reviews
Hello and welcome to my review of the Nitecore new i4 Intellicharger. This is the latest version out so I thought I'd get this in and have a look at it. This is a product that I bought myself. This is the included power cable, there's a figure of eight connected with this. This is the UK version, your one might vary depending on your region.
Looking at the manual in a second. Now, on to the front of the box, we have some of the new features with this, including active current distribution and a higher charging rate for one cell. On the side, the specifications are listed out here and you'll notice the charging rates for various cells are also listed out and the quantities. And we also have the safety certifications. On the other side, this lists the batteries that it's compatible with and you'll see quite a long list there of the lithiums as well as the nickel metal hydride cells too. On the back we get a more detailed specification breakdown. So you might wanna pause there and look through that in more detail if you wish. Some of the features that are quite useful here is the additional charging speed. We also have the option to switch that over so we can charge higher speeds in sequence on larger capacity batteries and some safety features too.
Taking a look at the design, it's changed slightly, we have new sliders and notice the outer bays are larger so they can accommodate the thicker 26650 cells. Moving in closer, we can see we have the charging markings embossed on the side and also the fast charge speed indicator and the voltages in the central area.
The sliders have had some additional raised areas added to them and they have on the contact points on the top too. So these are a different design from the previous ones and they're a bit taller as well.
Now, you'll notice there is a metal contact when you bring the slider down, I'm assuming that's how it works out whether it's charging a high capacity cell or not. That's on each of the slots, and it's just a bit larger than an AA battery, so that's how I think it's working out the higher capacity cell charge rate. The sliders are pretty good on this. They're definitely better than the new i2. They're smoother and I find them to be better quality. On the under side we have the four silicone pads and a ventilation slot. I'm gonna zoom in here, which will give you the specs on the charger on the label.
Now looking at the top section we have a figure of eight connector which is a very standard one, easy to get a replacement and also an input for 12 volts for the car adaptor. Side profile view here. Now, if you're worried about counterfeit products, we have Nitecore branding on the plug, and there's a scratch off verification code on the top of the pack. You also get a warranty booklet included.
Now, it's well worth looking through the instructions because although it's quite simple to operate, there's a few different extra features with this, particularly with the voltages for the batteries which can be user adjusted if needed. Also, take note, there's a recovery mode which you can manually activate for lithium cells, and there's a time out protection feature too.
This part is actually quite important, because it contains the charging parameters and you'll see here that you can only fast charge higher capacity lithium cells, not smaller ones or nickel metal hydride, that's a safety feature. Though there's potential to charge nickel metal hydride at a faster rate then you can. There's a typo here it says trickle charge mode. It's not a trickle charge mode they're just telling you that you can only charge at half amp for lower capacity cells and the active current distribution is explained here.
Now, when you power on the unit all of the LEDs come on and then off again, and then they only return once you insert a battery. I'm inserting this the wrong way around now, to test that that works and you'll see the error come up here on that channel. All four of those flash if there's an error. So you can't accidentally reverse charge batteries with this charger.
It's now inserted the correct way and you'll see it commencing charging as it should do. You'll see here at the top, the red LED indicates the faster 1.5 amp charging and it doesn't matter which slot you use, but it's only available for one slot at a time.
Now, I've listed out the charging speeds, and that will vary depending on the number of cells that you've got. Now, as soon as you put in additional cells the charging rate will drop to around 750 milliamps. And then it will drop further, once you put additional cells in. I perhaps would have gone with a half an amp charging on all channels or possibly two channels charging at an amp, but that's the way that they've done it. Now to change the channel, you can press the C button here, and then if you push and hold you can activate the fast charging mode for the cell that you have selected, if it supports the fast charging.
Now, it's possible to add additional batteries next to this and you can specify that they fast charge, if you have two larger capacities or more you can have them fast charge in sequence. Here I'm just putting in a nickel metal hydride and you'll see that two LEDs flash up, with lithium cells inserted they all flash up at the same time.
Now to change the voltage I am pushing and holding the V button which will let you cycle through the three voltages. Most lithium cells charge at 4.2 volts, but 3.7 for the lithium iron phosphate, the other type of charging voltage I haven't used that yet, 4.35 volts.
Now, you can see here with four cells inserted we just have the standard charging rate, but I can manually select the cell on the right hand side, which is a 18650, at the faster 1.5 amp charging rate. If I have a batch of those, say I wanted two to fast charge the 18650s I can go in and select that too, so I can have them charge in sequence. And that's quite a useful feature even though you can't distribute the current across all of the channels. What I'm doing now is charging these cells and I'm going to test the voltages to see what they come out at.
This is quite important to see just how well it's charging. I'm starting with the nickel metal hydride it's at 1.46, which is okay. The optimal charge is around 1.5 volts, up to, and for the lithium cells I'm looking for around 4.2 or not far from there. So we're at 4.16 which is acceptable. And this one's slightly lower 4.14. So it's perhaps not quite fully charging some of these cells. It's close enough to say that it's a decent charger in that regard, but I think the D4 does a slightly better job with the charging rate. You don't wanna be charging above the 4.2, 'cause that could damage the cells.
Now that I've charged the cells, I am re-inserting them again to see how quickly the charger can detect that the cells are charged.
And in this test, I've found it took me about eight minutes for the charger to recognize that the cells were fully charged. That's possibly because it's slightly undercharging the cells.
Now, to get a better idea of the charging quality, I decided to run some nickel metal hydride cells through this as well, and we'll come on to that shortly. But the charging speeds for me are okay for one or two cells, it's a bit slow for the four cells, but I think it's slightly undercharging the cells. And with... Possibly with the nickel metal hydride it's either missing the termination slightly. It's working on a delta-V so it's either going slightly over that and allowing the voltage to drop or it's not quite charging it to the full level. It's not to the point that I'd be concerned, but it's something which could be looked at possibly.
I'm just testing these again as they've been in the charger for a bit longer and the voltages are slightly better, particularly on the smaller lithium cell there. So I'm gonna stick with my assumption that it's slightly undercharging the cells, particularly compared to the D4 charger that I also have. We'll just check the 18650 here. And that's okay.
This is my nickel metal hydride test. These are high capacity cells, and they're quite new, they're only a few months old, so I'm looking to see what the charge voltage comes off of these at.
Now, there is some heat coming off of these which is surprising considering they're not charging at a particularly high rate. It's 375 milliamps. If I were charging these at 1 amp I'd expect a bit heat to come off of them. Not so much at this. So that's possibly an area which Nitecore might wanna look at too. And the contacts are actually hot, which is again surprising for the charge rate on these cells, which isn't gonna be that high. They're hot that you can't hold your finger on them, the contact point, without taking it off after a couple of seconds. Checking the voltages now, on the first two 1.45, that's okay, it's a touch lower than I might have liked. Again, I'm checking the temperature on the contact points and it's... They're quite hot. I'm not sure where that's coming from, whether it's the internal transformer that's transferring some heat. Checking the voltages again, try and get a stable reading; 1.44, 1.48, 1.46 so slightly better on that.
This is just a quick comparison comparing it to the D4. You'll see the design has changed a bit and also the bays are slightly larger on the outside, they're all the same size on the D4. So you'll be able to accommodate two larger cells even though you can't charge them at a fast rate. The unit's a bit smaller, and the contacts have been re-designed smaller in terms of the length and the width as well. I'm quite impressed on that side of things with the design and the construction feels pretty good too.
Okay, wrapping up with a quick summary and conclusion on the new i4. I'll start with the points that I do like. I quite like the design overall and the construction is excellent, I have no complaints on that. The fast charge speed, even though it's for one cell is something that is useful, and I would use, as is the sequence charging. The additional voltages could be useful later on depending on the types of cell that you're using. As is the larger bays on the outside, that's a better design than the D4 has. Now what I didn't like, the contacts are getting a bit hot for my liking. Perhaps not to the point, that I'm super concerned but I think there's room for Nitecore to improve that. The charging speeds are also not particularly good for four cells. I'd like to see half an amp on that. And I also feel it's slightly undercharging some of the cells sometimes. I think it's quite a good charger, but there is a bit of room for improvement on this particular model in my opinion.