PhoneSoap Smartphone Sanitizer

Health organizations and professionals have encouraged us all to wash our hands frequently to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but when’s the last time you’ve actually disinfected your smartphone? Probably not recently enough. Consider this gross statistic: A cellphone carries 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, according to a study from the University of Arizona.

Despite being on hand all the time, smartphones aren’t the easiest objects to clean. The CDC and Apple guidelines now advise that you use a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe. But you should make sure moisture doesn’t get into any openings, and keep in mind that excessive wiping may still damage its oleophobic coating, which prevents oils on your fingerprints from sticking to the surface.

A simpler solution that avoids those issues may be using an ultraviolet-light sanitizer. UV-light technology for disinfection isn’t new—the medical industry has been using it for decades. These sanitizers use UV-C (instead of UV-A or UV-B) light because it can break apart germ DNA, preventing it from reproducing and spreading.

The number of UV-light sanitizing products is growing. I tested out one of the most promising, the PhoneSoap 3, for a few weeks to help you determine if it’s worth integrating one into your daily routine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses and bacteria. While I don’t have the scientific equipment necessary to determine if it has successfully killed these germs, studies have shown that UV light is effective at killing coronaviruses similar to COVID-19.

Like other UV sanitizers, the PhoneSoap uses two UV light bulbs, which the brand claims kill 99.99 percent of germs in 10 minutes. Lights in the base and the inside of the lid provide 360-degree sanitization that can reach all the nooks and crannies that you may not effectively get at with wipes. (Keep in mind, though it’ll destroy bacteria, you’ll still have to manually wipe down your phone case to get rid of any accumulated grime.)

Once you place your phone inside and close the lid, the lights automatically turn on and run for 10 minutes. The lightning bolt design on the top of the lid lights up when the PhoneSoap is running and goes dim once the 10 minutes are up—an easy-to-read indication of when your phone is ready to remove. Because there’s no manual on/off switch, the lights will turn on whenever the unit is plugged in and closed—even without anything inside—but I didn’t notice any overheating given that it automatically turns off.

As the name indicates, the PhoneSoap is primarily marketed for use with smartphones, but you can certainly use it to sanitize other objects—so long as they fit inside. The exterior dimensions are about 8.5 x 5 x 2 inches, while the internal size is only about 7 x 3.9 x .75 inches. So while it’s long and wide enough to accommodate any smartphone on the market, its fairly shallow depth may prevent you from throwing just anything inside. For instance, it fit an iPhone 11 with a standard case, but a bulky wallet case filled with credit cards was too thick and prevented the lid from closing. I could place a pair of Jabra Elite 75t wireless headphones inside, but not the entire charging case. The PhoneSoap will also work with small wallets and key fobs, but fitting your phone, wallet, and keys inside at the same time is out of the question.

At first, I was a bit unsure that I would even remember to put my phone in the PhoneSoap regularly for at least 10 minutes. But to increase its usefulness, the case also allows you to plug in a phone charger to charge your phone while sanitizing, and it will continue to charge even after the 10 minutes are up. On its side is a place to plug it into the wall adapter, as well as two USB ports (a standard USB and a USB-C) to connect your phone charger. When you have the charger plugged into your phone and the PhoneSoap’s lid closed, there’s a small port for the cord to pass through.

My only issue when using the PhoneSoap was that the three-foot wall cable was a little short, so you’ll have to place it fairly close to an outlet. The wall plug had the opposite problem, being unusually long at three inches, which prevented me from plugging it into an outlet without first pulling any furniture in front of it farther away from the wall.

I ended up keeping the PhoneSoap on the nightstand near a wall outlet where I usually keep my phone charger, and leaving my phone inside when it was charging for the night. Fortunately, the device has what PhoneSoap calls an “acoustic audio amplifier”—fancy talk for holes in the bottom—that allows you to hear any alarms and notifications when it’s inside. Even when I had my phone at the lowest volume, I heard alarms loud and clear from across the room. In fact, they seemed just as loud as if the phone weren’t inside the box.

While I wasn’t able to test how long the PhoneSoap’s UV bulbs last, PhoneSoap claims that they can shine for up to 4,000 hours. So you can use the case 24,000 times before the bulbs burn out. And if they do happen to die before then, PhoneSoap will replace them for free.

Staying home and limiting contact with others may still be the most effective way to lessen the spread of COVID, but for those who may not have that luxury as states and businesses begin to reopen, the PhoneSoap may be a worthy investment for those who want some extra peace of mind that they aren’t bringing the virus home with them. Especially for healthcare and other essential workers, it’s especially convenient to keep a PhoneSoap in a place near the front door to sanitize your phone, wallet, and/or keys once you come home.

If you were thinking that the PhoneSoap might be a little impractical in that you can’t carry it around with you all day to sanitize your phone on-the-go, the company does make a portable, battery-powered option. Or if you want a larger UV-light sanitizer that can hold more objects, the HomeSoap might be right for you. The PhoneSoap 3 costs $80, while other PhoneSoap products like the HomeSoap run up to $200. All of these products listed below are available for preorder now and will ship sometime this summer.


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