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Coral UV

  • Value: 12/20
  • Functionality: 16/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Aesthetics: 13/20
  • Peace of Mind: 20/20
  • TOTAL: 80/100
In the beginning of quarantine, my doctor friend told me she was absolutely obsessed with her PhoneSoap ($80), a device built to fit a smartphone that uses UV-C light to kill harmful pathogens, like, say, coronavirus. Artificially produced UV-C light, different from naturally occurring UV-A and UV-B, has enough energy to penetrate DNA and break down sequences of any microorganism.

So yeah, I needed one, stat.

But the PhoneSoap was on backorder (and still basically is), and any similar items—like a UV-C wand, for example—were wildly expensive and wouldn’t ship for months.

But then, a few weeks later, I found out about the Coral UV Sterilizer and Dryer. Selling for $169 on Amazon, the Coral UV has a heftier price tag than the original PhoneSoap, but considering its larger size, it’s actually more comparable to the HomeSoap, PhoneSoap’s newer, bigger product that goes for $200, but is only available to pre-order. In that sense, the Coral UV is a deal.

coral uv review product shot
Dara Katz

About the size of a small microwave, you can plop multiple items inside the Coral UV—not just your phone—like baby bottles, pacifiers, plush toys, etc. It makes sense it was originally marketed toward parents in the pre-COVID days. But this also happens to be one of the reasons I trust the company’s claim that its ten-minute UV-C cycles can eliminate “99.9 percent of harmful germs.” Do I have a lab at home to check for this claim? No. But I like knowing that it existed before the blind panic of COVID-19. So, I will take the company’s word that “Coral UV has undergone rigorous lab testing to eliminate E. Coli, Salmonella, Staph and MUCH more!” (They also publish lab reports that I’m not going to pretend to understand.)

Sterilize Only vs. Sterilize + Dry

There are two major functions of Coral UV. The first is just regular ol’ sterilizing. It’s a ten-minute cycle that uses the UV-C lights installed in the lid and reflected off the mirrored walls of the chamber to kill germs. This cycle is recommended for things that are not washed beforehand like my cell phone, its case, makeup brushes and some disposable masks I wanted to get more use out of. You put the items in, spaced apart with any openings facing up, per the directions. Then, you simply press the “Sterilize Only” button, and ten minutes later, a little beep tells you it’s ready.

The Sterilize + Dry mode runs for 50 minutes (ten minutes of UV-C light, 40 minutes of drying). I tried this cycle on my dog’s toys that I washed with soap and water first—her Kong, food bowl and a rubber dog toy. I shook off excess water and put in the chamber damp. When the cycle was over, the dog toys were almost completely dry, save for some water that pooled at the bottom near the bowl. Because it runs for longer and is a bit louder with the fan running, I don’t think I’d really ever use this function. But, if I were a parent, I would definitely be using it on bottles and pacifiers.

My Biggest Concern

My only apprehension with either of these functions was if the top locked while it was running because I wouldn’t want anyone—a child or adult—to open the lid and be accosted with UV-C light. So, while a cycle was running, I tested it. Yes, the lid can be opened while it’s running but the lights automatically turn off. Phew.

­The Pros and the Cons

The most significant pro of the Coral UV is that it’s available right now, and on Amazon Prime, no less, while PhoneSoap is only in backorder or pre-order. It’s also big enough to put a few items in at once and has multiple functions.

The cons? It’s not as chic looking as the PhoneSoap’s models, so it’s definitely something I want to put in a cabinet when I’m not using it. The HEPA filter also needs to be replaced every three months and the lights every 12 months. While the product comes with three extra filters, if you use the Coral UV often, you’ll need more from the manufacturer, which sell for $6.99 plus shipping for a pack of four (currently out of stock, available in the beginning of August). However, according to a rep, new orders on the sterilizer still come with a year's worth of filters included in the package. PhoneSoap, on the other hand, doesn’t have filters and includes bulbs that last 4,000 hours, which technically never need to be changed. All considered, it makes the steeper prices of PhoneSoap models more comparable to the Coral UV.

The Consensus

The Coral UV-C isn’t cheap, and it requires a small amount of maintenance and money to upkeep. And though it’s not the millennial-sleek design my generation has been accustomed to, it’s also not exactly an eyesore. It is all function and utility. And considering that the Coral UV is available and ready to ship ASAP, the peace of mind that comes with that is priceless.

BUY IT ($169)

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