Cobra JoyRide review: Cobra charger takes charge of Android phones

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

The Good The Cobra JoyRide smart in-car charger eases access to your Android phone while driving by providing single-button activation of many functions and preprogrammed triggers. Rapid charging outputs enough amperage to power most Android phones and tablets.

The Bad The smart charger was able to power our Nexus tablet, but the app was incompatible. The MSRP is a bit high for what is essentially a 12V charger.

The Bottom Line If you're in the market for an Android car charger that does more than just power your phone, the Cobra JoyRide is a compelling option.

8.2 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

At first glance, the Cobra JoyRide Cobra JoyRide 2.1 Amp Intelligent Car Charger looks like regular 12-volt-to-USB charger with a large LED illuminated button emblazoned with the Cobra logo. Indeed, the JoyRide's primary function is to charge your phone. It will charge any phone that accepts 5V USB power, but its included Micro-USB cable is an indication of its Android skew. Additionally, it's one of the few 2.1A rapid chargers for phones and tablets that will rapid-charge my Google Asus Nexus 7 tablet, which has been notoriously picky about what chargers it will recognize.

However, the JoyRide has a secondary and more interesting function. Tapping the large Cobra button accesses a variety of customizable controls for your Android phone while in the car, via a free app.

Cobra JoyRide app controls
The JoyRide communicates these button presses to your phone via the USB connection by connecting to your phone as an accessory -- certain phones may need to enable USB debugging in the Developer Settings menu -- and includes triggers for a single tap, double tap, triple tap, and long press of the single button. Any of these button triggers can be set to activate certain actions on the connected phone.

The Cobra JoyRide app lets users assign functions to its button and locate their parked car. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

By default, a single tap will task-switch between a user-selectable loop of applications. For example, tap to launch the Music apps, again to switch to Maps, once more to jump to favorite Contacts, and again to restart the loop with Music. You can select the apps in the loop and can add as many as you like from the Cobra JoyRide configuration app.

The single, double, triple, and long-tap triggers can also be set to launch a specific app, play and pause audio, call a specific contact, answer an incoming phone call, automatically initiate turn-by-turn navigation to specific destination (for example, home), open the JoyRide settings app, launch the Cobra iRadar app, or report to cop-spotting app Live Police.

With the On Connect and On Disconnect actions users can automate certain commands upon entry and exit of the vehicle. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Additionally, users can set actions that will trigger when the JoyRide is initially connected to and recognized by your phone. These On Connect actions include launching an app in the foreground or background, toggling Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections, and automatically replying to incoming text messages and calls with a customizable SMS message. Users can also set the screen to stay powered on when connected to and powered by the JoyRide, which should keep it from going black while, for example, navigating or streaming audio.

Hot Products

More Best Products

All best products