Moshi's Deep Purple UV Sanitizer dramatically reduced the amount of bacteria on my phone in just 4 minutes

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  • The Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer can be used to clean smartphones, earbuds, wallets, glasses, and other small devices or objects.
  • It uses UV-C light which can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria.
  • It folds flat for easy transport and a cleaning cycle takes just 4 minutes and a UV indicator inside confirms the effectiveness.

We all know how easily invisible bacteria and viruses can spread through touch, yet there are many small objects and devices we handle regularly and rarely clean. Perhaps most notably our smartphones are in and out of our pockets frequently throughout the day being tapped and swiped. We may pause to polish away smudges, but how often do we give our phones a proper clean?

“Anything that is handled as much as a smartphone, placed on many surfaces, etc, will pick up a wide range of organisms, some of which may cause illness if they enter the body in some way,” Dr. Susan Hassig, associate professor of epidemiology at Tulane University, told Insider.

The Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer is designed to clean smartphones and other small personal items that you touch frequently, such as earpods, remote controls, glasses, pens, and game controllers. It does this using UV (ultraviolet) light, specifically UV-C, which includes radiation with a short wavelength (100-280 nanometers) that’s capable of killing pathogenic microorganisms, including many dangerous bacteria that can cause infections in people.

“Organisms outside the body are generally susceptible to UV light, and depending on intensity and duration of exposure, UV light is germicidal,” explained Dr. Hassig.

We’ve looked at the effectiveness of UV light in killing germs before. It is commonly used in the healthcare and hospitality industries, and we’re seeing more and more UV light cleaning devices aimed at consumers. As a sanitizer, the Moshi Deep Purple reduces the growth of bacteria, breaking down the DNA of microbes on a cellular level and preventing them from reproducing, but it won’t completely eradicate them – this is sanitization rather than disinfection.

It’s important to note that there’s no evidence yet that UV-C light is effective at killing COVID-19, though research is ongoing.

To put the Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer through its paces I did a before and after test with my family’s smartphones. I used dip slides to test the touchscreen of my phone, my wife’s phone, my 11-year-old son’s phone, and my eight-year-old daughter’s phone. Then I cleaned each phone with Moshi’s UV sanitizer and tested them again.

Specifications

Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer Specs
Dimensions 21 x 13 x 6.5 cm (21 x 19 x 2 cm when folded flat)
Weight 510 grams
Port USB-C
Cleaning cycle 4 minutes
Lights UV-C LEDs
UV wavelength 260-280 nm

Design and setup

The Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer comes flat and features an Origami-style magnetic folding design that makes it easy to form into a box. It’s finished in a good quality fake (or Vegan friendly) leather that’s gray, in keeping with Moshi’s muted design aesthetic. There’s a light gray strip with a metal Moshi logo on it that makes it easy to open and close.

Power comes via the USB-C port on the back and there’s a rectangular LED with a metal frame on the front. You get a short USB-C to USB-A cable in the box, but no charger. Plug in a power source, which could be a wall charger or a portable battery, and the light turns green to let you know that it’s ready to clean. It only requires 5V/240mA (1.2W) to work, which means almost any charger or portable battery will provide enough power.

When you open the box, you’ll see that the inside is covered in highly reflective metal panels that bounce light from eight separate UV-C LED lamps, and there’s a clear plastic block to pop your device on. This design ensures it gets a 360-degree clean as it’s bathed in UV-C light from every angle.

All you need to do to start the cleaning cycle is close the lid. The LED on the front pulses purple when it’s cleaning and then turns off when the cleaning cycle finishes, which should be around four minutes later.

As a safety feature, because UV-C light isn’t good for your eyes or skin, there’s a sensor on the inside that prevents the UV-C LEDs from turning on if it detects any outside light. There’s also an effectiveness indicator with UV-reactive paint that changes color when exposed to UV-C rays, so you can be sure that the cleaning cycle was completed correctly.

The Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer is highly portable as it’s quick and easy to fold flat and has a thickness of just 2 centimeters. You will need a bag to put it in, however, and you’ll want to make sure you take a charging cable and a portable battery.

Performance and features

It’s very easy to use the Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer. I used it to clean several smartphones, keys, sunglasses, game controllers, a remote control, and a pen, and there’s enough room inside to place a couple of small objects at once. It will also comfortably accommodate most smartphones, even larger models like the iPhone 12 Pro Max or the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.

As it offers a 360-degree cleaning cycle, you only need to run it once for each device, though if you use a case with your smartphone you should remove it and clean the phone and case separately. It only takes around four minutes to clean each device.

You obviously can’t see any visible difference when cleaning with UV light, so I bought a set of general-purpose dip slides that test for and show the growth of mold and yeasts on one side and total bacteria on the other side.

I gathered my family and tested each of our smartphone screens. I did two tests for every phone screen, one before and one after cleaning in Moshi’s Deep Purple UV Sanitizer. Each slide was clearly labeled and then incubated for 72 hours to allow the bacteria colonies to grow. Once they were ready, we compared them to find out who had the dirtiest phone and to see what difference a single cleaning cycle in the Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer made.

We were surprised to find that my wife’s iPhone was the dirtiest of the bunch. In a shock result, my 11-year-old son’s phone was the cleanest. All four of our smartphone screens scored between 12 and 40 CFU (colony-forming units) per square centimeter before being cleaned. The after tests showed a significant reduction, with all four phones coming in between 0.4 and 2.5 CFU per square centimeter.

The Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer has also been tested by independent laboratories and was found to be 99.9% effective against common bacteria like staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli, certain strains of which can cause various infections and illnesses in people. The idea is that it can potentially reduce your risk of a staph infection or a dodgy tummy.

Inevitably, as we’re living through a pandemic right now, people are more conscious of the importance of cleanliness. However, it’s important to state that there’s no firm evidence that a device like this can kill COVID-19 and we certainly can’t recommend it for that purpose.

It’s hard to quantify the potential benefit of a UV sanitizer like this. Because it only cleans small devices that you choose to clean, and there are so many other surfaces you come into contact with every day, it’s not necessarily going to stop you from falling ill. And even when it does, you’ll never know it.

After doing the bacteria tests and seeing all those red spots on the slides I feel quite motivated to clean things in the UV sanitizer. On the other hand, we usually get staph infections through wounds and E. coli from contaminated food, so it’s not clear that sanitizing your phone is going to prevent either.

There’s no doubt that UV sanitization works and this study shows that it can even be more effective than liquid disinfectants. Those results were based on devices capable of outputting 60 mJ/cm2 (millijoules per square centimeter). Moshi told us that using an Ultraviolet Radiometer to measure the dose of the Deep Purple, and claim that the 4-minute accumulated dose is 150 mJ/cm2.

Moshi offers a 10-year global warranty with the Deep Purple UV Sanitizer and says the UV-C LEDs are good for at least ten years of daily use.

Should you buy it?

Yes, the Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer can reduce bacteria on your phone and other small items and potentially reduce your risk of falling ill because of it. If you see value in that and don’t mind the steep asking price, then it’s a good buy for you.

What are your alternatives?

Perhaps the first product in this space was PhoneSoap. It works in a similar way to Moshi’s Deep Purple UV Sanitizer, employing UV-C light to kill common germs. It takes longer to clean your phone (around ten minutes), but you can charge your phone while it’s being cleaned. It’s also cheaper at around $80. The PhoneSoap sanitizer is a little smaller than Moshi’s, and it’s purpose-built for phones, so there isn’t as much room inside.

Read our PhoneSoap Sanitizer review to learn more.

There are a few other, cheaper UV devices on the market, but none that we can recommend.

The bottom line

If you don’t currently clean your phone, then it’s likely home to more bacteria than you realize. A regular UV sanitization regime could reduce your risk of infection and the Moshi Deep Purple UV Sanitizer is quick and easy to use, durable with a long warranty, and can be folded to stow away easily.

Pros: Quick and easy to use, 360-degree cleaning for small devices or objects, folds flat, kills 99.9% of bacteria, 10-year global warranty

Cons: Expensive, limited space inside

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