Ever because the sudden cancellation of Apple’s AirPower wi-fi charger, tons of corporations have tried to fill the hole out there by providing their very own takes on the failed product. However with the Liberty wi-fi charger, Zens has succeeded the place Apple failed: it constructed a multiple-coil wi-fi charger that truly delivers on its promise.
AirPower-style wi-fi chargers are a dime a dozen nowadays: take two Qi charging pads, throw in a USB Apple Watch cable, and also you’ve bought one thing that appears like Apple’s failed charger. However the actual innovation of the AirPower charger wasn’t in its skill to cost an iPhone, a pair of AirPods, and an Apple Watch all of sudden; it was Apple’s attempt to make use of 21 to 24 charging coils (as an alternative of the usual one or two) to make a charger that wouldn’t require exact placement or alignment of the charging coils.
The glass-and-aluminum Liberty doesn’t look very like Apple’s canceled charger, nevertheless it does precisely what AirPower promised: simply drop your telephone or earbuds anyplace on the pad, and so they’ll cost, due to the 16 charging coils inside. There’s no transferring issues round to verify the coils are lined up, no sliding your telephone up and down, no anxious glances to see if the charging indicator goes on. It really works the best way wi-fi charging ought to all the time work.
It’s not simply the multicoil know-how, although: the Liberty additionally checks almost each different field for what makes a superb wi-fi charger. It will probably cost as much as two units on the pad at as much as 15W every, that means it’ll quick cost almost any smartphone at full velocity. There’s additionally an extra USB-A port on the highest for plugging in one other system (or, for many who need the true AirPower expertise, plugging in Zens’ custom €45 aluminum Apple Watch charger that’s designed to go along with the Liberty pad).
The Liberty is powered by an ordinary USB-C port, that means you’ll be able to simply substitute the cable for an extended or shorter possibility or swap out the brick if something breaks. (However you’ll want a 60W USB-C PD brick to provide sufficient energy.) And there aren’t any annoying glowing LED lights to let you already know that the charger is plugged in.
The Liberty charger isn’t excellent. For instance, placing your telephone all the best way to the facet may cause it to not cost. However that’s fairly simple to keep away from given the big charging service accessible and the truth that you’ll be able to see the place the coils are, no less than on the glass-top mannequin I examined. It’s large: with a footprint of 8.Eight x 5.three inches, it’s almost the dimensions of a commerce paperback e book, so that you’ll undoubtedly need to clear some room in your desk. There’s additionally a fan, as one would possibly count on from a charger that pulls this a lot energy, though it’s pretty quiet.
Then there’s the most important drawback with the Zens Liberty: the value. At €149 for the standard model (with a fabric cover) and €199 for the restricted version glass cowl mannequin that I attempted, you’re paying a hefty premium even in comparison with different (already costly) dual-device wi-fi chargers like Samsung’s $79.99 Duo Pad, Nomad’s $99 Base Station, or Mophie’s $69.95 Twin Wi-fi Charging Pad. And that’s earlier than paying the additional €45 for the Apple Watch charger — though, in concept, you can save right here by simply utilizing an everyday Apple Watch charger on the expense of the extra seamless look.
Happily, Zens isn’t the one firm trying to compete within the AirPower-esque multicoil house. Different contenders — like Nomad’s upcoming Base Station Professional — promise to perform the same “cost anyplace” feat, with assist for as much as three Qi units, though the present prototype that we noticed at CES was nonetheless buggy and unfinished, and there’s no launch date. Latest rumors point out that Apple may be taking a shot at a wi-fi charger once more, too.
The truth that different corporations are engaged on multicoil chargers means there’s hope for cheaper options down the road. However for now, Zens is the one sport on the town. Apple by no means introduced the value for its AirPower charger, so it’s laborious to match the Zens Liberty in that regard. However the excessive worth level is nearly becoming for a product that’s stealing Apple’s thunder.
The Zens Liberty is one in every of — if not the finest — wi-fi chargers I’ve ever used. However if you’d like the Apple-like AirPower options, you’ll need to be ready to pay Apple-like costs.
Images by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge