In brief: The untimely cancellation of AirPower remains a rare tarnish on Apple's otherwise impressive record with hardware releases. However, it seems the appetite for the concept of a wireless charging mat similar to the one Apple envisioned is still strong, and wireless charging company Zens is now attempting to sate that appetite with its new Zens Liberty wireless charging mats.
In late 2017 Apple announced it was finally embracing wireless charging and revealed it was working on its own AirPower charging mat. AirPower would allow users to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and a pair of AirPods simultaneously, regardless of placement. AirPower was an ambitious project, perhaps overly so, as Apple ultimately conceded defeat and killed AirPower after rumored technical hurdles and multiple delays.
In the time since, there have been a handful of designs that have surfaced, attempting to do what Apple couldn't.
There's the dual-charging pad and 3-in-1 charging station available from Mophie, and even sold in Apple's online store. However, these designs aren't exactly what Apple promised, as they make certain compromises. The same is true with the Zens Liberty, the most recent aspiring AirPower alternative.
The Zens Liberty won't facilitate charging three devices simultaneously, instead only supporting two devices at a time. Although, a third device can be charged through a built-in USB-A port. Additionally, the Zens Liberty does promise to charge devices regardless of where they are placed on the mat, which could be serious advantage over Mophie's design that has dedicated places on the mat for charging certain devices.
The Zens Liberty also can't charge the Apple Watch on the pad; at least, not in the way Apple had promised with AirPower. For charging an Apple Watch with the Zens Liberty, there's the Apple Watch USB-stick (€39.99/$44.50), a USB-A accessory that plugs into the included USB-A port. The Apple Watch accessory also appears to have a built-in seat for the Apple Watch to provide the right angle for the Apple Watch’s Nightstand mode.
The Zens Liberty is built with 16 coils, offering a total 30W output, or the ability to charge two devices at 15W. There's also support for Apple and Samsung Fast Charge. The Zens Liberty is powered via USB-C, and comes with a 60W power adapter.
The Zens Liberty is available in two editions: one with a fabric surface, and one with a clear, tempered glass top. The latter affords a look under the hood of the charging mat, where the overlapping coil array can be seen. The glass edition looks seriously slick, and certainly gives the charging mat a premium look, and and equally premium price tag ($199).
Alternatively, the Zens Liberty with a fabric surface will cost $155 which is still a lot. Zens is taking pre-orders, with shipping slated for later this month.