It is now almost a year and a half since Apple, the first theoretical AirPower, a multi-coil charger that lets you place your iPhone, Apple Watch or (yet fictitious) wireless AirPods case anywhere on the charging mat. We are still not closer to knowing when it will actually be available.
Hard Cider Labs created a kind of bad man version last year, in the form of SliceCharge. One did not have AirPower's USP overlapping coils that allow you to put your phone anywhere on the mat. But the new version does …
I got the chance to try a prototype version that is very close to the Production Model.
See and follow
The general appearance of SliceCharge Pro is very similar to what was in the previous model. It is a flat, fabric-covered oval shape with more flattened ends than last time.
A visible difference is the Apple Watch charger. The company picked up on a criticism I made last time – that you can't use it to charge watches with any type of band, as it's impossible to put them in place.
So this time there is an unlocking puck for the clock. This is a third party but is MFi certified.
As before, the fabric plate and sliding plastic bottom conceal an aluminum frame. You get a power and USB-C cable.
It measures just over 9 inches with a half inch thickness.
SliceCharge Pro has six coils – one in the Apple Watch charging puck, and five overlapping in the bulk of the mat.
The charger can provide up to 30 W of total power, with a maximum of 10 W for one device (although Apple limits iPhones to 7.5 W).
It's still not quite AirPower
AirPower promises you can put any device down anywhere on the mat. You can't quite do it here: Clock must be on the right side, and your iPhone (s) go somewhere else.
The problem, and probably the difficulty Apple has with AirPower, is the usual wireless charging coils are too large to charge the watch – while the Watch coils are too small to charge an iPhone. The only way around it is to have overlapping coils of both standard and watch size, creating interference problems. Hard Cider Labs have not tried this, probably found that if even Apple hasn't done it yet, it's best left alone.
But it's still better than other options out there right now. There are several coil chargers that will not charge the clock. And there are two chargers that charge an iPhone and a clock, but with both in fixed positions. SliceCharge Pro combines charging with two devices with flexible location of the phone.
I have used the charger for a few days and it has worked flawlessly. I have placed my iPhone X in so many different positions and angles that I can come up with, and as long as it is mostly on the mat, it loads perfectly.
I mean, there are posts where it will not charge – like half and half – but I had to actively try these. Everywhere it is likely that you happen to place your phone.
The observation Zac made last year – that no one has yet produced an AirPower clone – remains true. But this is certainly very close.
A solid travel option
I mentioned in a MacBook Pro Diary piece that I use my Mac as my charging hub when traveling. It has enough power to charge all my devices.
I decided to test this with SliceCharge Pro. Can I get enough power from the MBP to charge both my iPhone and Watch simultaneously? The good news is the answer is yes. So this, for me, makes a very nice travel opportunity. I can only drop the mat myself, minus the current stone, into my carrying case.
Free to existing SliceCharge owners
A very nice touch: If you bought the original SliceCharge, the company will send you Pro model price for free – you only pay $ 10 for shipping.
Awards and Conclusions
Hard Cider Labs is planning to sell SliceCharge Pro for $ 129, but the Kickstarter Early Bird award is $ 69. Delivery is scheduled in May.
The problem is, of course, invited to do a double gamble here. First, the regular Kickstarter One: Will the company deliver and will it deliver on time? I'd say it's a pretty good bet. The company has its track record from the previous model and I have actually tried the new one and it works. This is not a vaporware promise.
But the other gamble is around the time of the AirPower itself. You can now back SliceCharge just to make Apple beat it on the market.
Although it doesn't, you won't be able to buy AirPower for $ 69 – and probably not for $ 129 either. Is Apple Premium, what it turns out to be, worth it, for the only benefit of full flexibility in positioning over "Put Watch on the Puck and let your iPhone down anywhere else?" Only you can answer that.
SliceCharge Pro can be supported on Kickstarter, with Early Bird prices of around $ 69.