2019-08-25 by W.M.
This wireless charging pad might do two-thirds of what AirPower promised
It’s been nearly five months since one of the all-time great Friday news dumps: On March 29th, Apple abruptly canceled the AirPower wireless charging mat that would supposedly be able to charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously no matter where you placed them. But wireless charging firm Zens is betting it can do some of what Apple couldn’t by introducing the Zens Liberty.
Zens claims the Liberty uses a set of 16 overlapping wireless charging coils to let you charge your Qi-compatible devices from any spot on the mat — just like AirPower was supposed to, though AirPower was rumored to have 21 to 24 coils. The Zens Liberty can charge two devices at once, unlike AirPower’s planned three, but it charges each at 15 watts, faster than most wireless chargers. Your Apple Watch may not work, by the way: none of Zens’ promotional materials show it on the charger.
We also don’t know if the Zens Liberty’s multi-coil design overcomes the engineering challenges that were rumored to have sunk AirPower, including overheating and possibly emitting signals more powerful than US or EU regulations would have allowed. If Apple couldn’t figure it out, I’m pretty skeptical Zens managed to do so.
If you’re willing to roll the dice on such a new product, though, Zens says the Zens Liberty will be available in two flavors this November: a $139.99 “Kvadrat edition,” which has a nice-looking fabric on top of the aluminum mat, and a $179.99 limited glass edition, which replaces the fabric with a pane of glass that lets you see the mat’s charging coils underneath.
For an AirPower alternative that’s available now, we recommend the Hard Cider Labs SliceCharge Pro, which, though it only has six charging coils, can charge two devices on the mat as well as an Apple Watch via an integrated watch charger.