Dutch wireless charger maker Zens has released something that isn’t quite a replacement for Apple’s unreleased AirPower — though it’s awfully close.
Called the Liberty, Zens' new charger packs 16 circular, overlapping coils, which allow the pad to charge up to two devices simultaneously. It can also separately juice up an Apple Watch, using an extra adapter that plugs into a concealed USB-A port near the top right corner.
The price of all this freedom? $139. For that, you get a Liberty pad with a charging surface lined in woolen fabric. Drop $40 more, and you can nab the same charger, but with a glass top instead, that allows you to peer through at the coils beneath. Should you want that Apple Watch cradle too, it’ll set you back another $39.
The glass is a neat look for sure, and also practical, because it allows you to see precisely where the coils lie. Theoretically, the Liberty should charge a device placed anywhere on it, but AppleInsider, who have gone hands on with the accessory, say there are dead zones along the edges and corners where the coils don’t quite reach.
Those who followed the ill-fated AirPower will note a critical difference between Zens’ device and Apple’s vision for wireless charging. Whereas the AirPower was supposed to be able to charge three devices at once, the Liberty tops out at only two. That’s because the AirPower reportedly would’ve packed anywhere from four to five more coils than the Liberty, and it was the interference and heat generated from that mess of coils that forced Apple to cancel the product, citing an inability to reach the company's own “high standards.”
Additionally, the Liberty lacks the software integration that would have differentiated AirPower from practically every other wireless charging pad out there. The AirPower was designed to use the display of a charging iPhone to relay information about the battery status of other devices being charged at the same time, and that’s simply not something a third-party accessory maker like Zens can pull off without full access to iOS.
Still, Zens deserves props for coming to market with a place-anywhere charger. The Liberty is quite thick for a wireless pad, likely to manage all that energy, and comes with a beefy 60W brick to handle up to three devices. It also supports both Apple’s and Samsung’s unique fast charge standards, which is something you can be sure the AirPower never would have been able to claim.
The Liberty will begin shipping this month, and Zens is offering both the fabric and glass versions directly from its online store.