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RIP AirPower, but Great Gadget Chargers Abound

Apple's AirPower mat was once billed as the next big thing in wireless charging for iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods users because it would have charged all three products at the same time.

So when Apple killed the unreleased AirPower in March after holding customers in suspense for 18 months (see "Apple cancels AirPower, Can't Take the Heat", March 29, 2019 and "Apple's Wireless AirPower Charger : What happened? ”, September 17, 2018), those who had been looking forward to the product were asked:" What now? "


Surprisingly, given Apple's failure to overcome technical challenges, there is nothing on the market quite like AirPower, which Apple claimed would charge evenly throughout its oval-shaped surface so you could place an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods (in Apple's wireless charging case) by any means.

But that doesn't mean you have to settle for a boring device charger. I searched for chargers that mix personality and versatility for those who want something special.

Multi-Device Chargers

If you like the idea of ​​charging an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods all at once, you have options. I evaluated many wireless and wired chargers in this category. I zeroed in on a handful I like, but they are not without annoyance.

Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition

$ 139.95 Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition builds a fancy, leather-clad charging surface on a metal base and adds an Apple Watch dock on the left corner. With room on the leather plate for two iPhones (or an iPhone and the wireless AirPods case), Nomads charger is a decent all-in-one option.

 Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition [19659002] Nomad Base Station can output up to 10 watts (for some Android phone models), but current iPhone models can only charge at 7.5 watts, such as Nomad Base Station also supports.

Proper placement of an iPhone or AirPod case on the leather cushion takes precision and practice. This is by design, Nomad told me:

There are two thoughts when it comes to wireless charging production. One will open a wide hotspot area for the consumer to place the product. It makes it easy to start charging, but has a negative impact on charging efficiency. The other, which Nomad put into use, is to make a smaller hot spot that adheres to the charging specifications.

More annoyingly, the Nomad base station emits a barely audible, but high-pitched whine when connected to power. Unfortunately, this problem is not uncommon – I have experienced similar sounds with other wireless chargers – so you should look for the sound when purchasing such a device and decide if you can live with a slight cry.

The other problem with the Nomad base station is cost. At $ 140, it is quite expensive when you consider that simple charging pads may have been for $ 15 or less.

Nomad Base Station Hub Edition

If you already have a convenient way to charge Apple Watch and just want a handsome iPhone and AirPods charger, the $ 99.95 Nomad Base Station Hub Edition is all you need. It has the same leather cushion for two units and the same metal base, but it dispenses with a guard port.

 Nomad Base Station Hub Edition

A Walnut Edition swaps the metal base for one with a wood finish.

 Nomad Walnut Edition

Like the other Nomad Base Station, this version supports 7.5 watts of iPhone charging and 10 watts of compatible Android smartphones.

What's more, this version of Nomad Base Station includes a 7.5-watt USB-A port and an 18-watt USB-C port, so it can function as a wired charger as well as a wireless. I was mildly disappointed that Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition does not include such ports given the stratospheric cost.

Elago 3 in 1 Charging Hub

Elago tackles charging of three devices in a different, completely wired way. Its $ 24.99 $ 3 in 1 Charging Hub sports dock for an iPhone and an AirPods case, with room for an Apple Watch to wrap around the base of the elevated AirPods dock.

 Elago 3 in 1 Charging Hub [19659002] For the 3 in 1 charging hub to work, you need to add the standard cables. Lightning ticks through the bases of the iPhone and AirPods docks. The Apple Watch site has a rounded cutout to place the charging puck. Cables snake out the back of the hub – with three small slots in the shelf to keep them organized – and connect to standard chargers.

 Elago 3 in 1 Charging Hub rear

Abnormal, Elago produces the hub entirely using soft silicone, which is durable and comfortable to put on. Playful touches include an iPhone support that looks like the front of a classic 128K Mac, complete with a "hello" message. It is available in black, dark gray, white and "Jean Indigo."

I found 3 in 1 Charging Hub enchanting, but not without problems. It is sometimes difficult to hold lightning cables in place. You only need to place the pins for reliable charging, but they can be loosened at times. Sometimes it takes the whole cable to pull out the iPhone, which is annoying. The other issue is messy with having so many cables to manage, but they are mostly out of sight and are therefore not an aesthetic accident.

Overall, 3 in 1 Charging Hub is a smart, affordable way to charge multiple Apple devices at once if you don't mind having to futz with cables occasionally.

Elago Mini Charging Hub

If you already have a way to charge your iPhone, Elago & # 39; s $ 14.99 Mini Charging Hub with the iPhone dock and adhere to AirPods and Apple Watch charging.

 Elago Mini Charging Hub

As before, the AirPods case sits on an elevated dock, with the Apple Watch wrapping around the dock base. The Mini Charging Hub is made of soft silicone and comes in black, dark gray and white.

Elagos Mini Charging Hub hits a sweet spot for me since it's an affordable and space-saving way to charge two Apple devices with my regular iPhone wireless charging pad.

iPhone Chargers

The market is littered with simple wireless charging mats (see “13 Qi Wireless Chargers for iPhone Evaluated,” February 22, 2018), but you may want more versatility and design pizzas. Here are some of my favorites.

Twelve South HiRise Wireless

Twelve South has long been known for its HiRise iPhone charging channels for iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch (see “Apple's new iPhone dock versus the competition,” June 24, 2015).

The company has now designed $ 79.99 Known Touched HiRise Wireless Charger, including an extra-heavy metal bottom with a rubber bottom and an upper leather leather. At the top of the base, an oval shaped charging puck fits within an angled plastic frame. Just lean iPhone against the charging surface; a nub in the leather bottom keeps the iPhone from slipping out of position.

 Twelve South HiRise Wireless

The stand gets its power via a USB-C port on one end of the puck. It comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable, but not a wall charger – Twelve South assumes you want to use the charger that came with your iPhone.

HiRise Wireless is a fantastic desktop or night charger. But what if you are going on a trip? Instead of packing the whole dock, which will take up a lot of space in a suitcase, you can pop out the puck and carry just that, along with a cable and charger. Despite its compact size, the puck works like any other flat wireless pillow. You can also use it to charge a wireless AirPods case, which is not possible if the puck is in the rack.

 Twelve South HiRise Wireless off the rack

My only disagreement with HiRise Wireless is its plastic frame, which feels a bit chintzy and fragile; pop the puck in and out with care.

Logitech Powered For iPhone and Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand

If you want a standing iPhone stand that allows you to place the handset either horizontally or vertically while charging it wirelessly, logitech and Belkin have you covered.

 Logitech Powered For iPhone

Although these stands look different – $ 69.99 Logitech has a square configuration while Belkin $ 69.99 is more rounded – they work on the same principle. You can place the iPhone in either portrait or landscape mode, where the latter makes it easy to watch video on the small screen.

 Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand

These stands will not work to charge AirPods since they are not flat. In my testing, the Logitech stand seemed to have trouble charging an iPhone XS Max in Apple's Smart Battery Case, even though that accessory supports Qi wireless charging. The Belkin stand worked well with that combination.

If you like Belkin's stand, I suggest you go with the black version of the quay instead of the white, since my equipment in lighter shade, in my experience, tends to look dingy after a while. It also happened to the Logitech dock sample I tested, but it is only available in white.

Apple Watch Stands

Manufacturers have come with boatloads of Apple Watch charging channels and racks (see "Eight Standing Apple Watch Stands," August 5, 2015), but some Elago models have charmed me at because of their whimsical Apple theme.

A while back, I wrote about one that is shaped to look like a classic 128K Mac (see “New Apple Watch Tripod Looks Like 128K Mac,” March 2, 2017). Since then, the company has added its range of Apple-style stands.

 128K Mac Watch Stand

These include a model made to look like the Bondi Blue iMac (there is an Aqua Pink version that looks like a Strawberry iMac, too), and another that looks like an iPod with a click wheel – choose from the classic white iPod or a product (red) version.

 iPod Apple Watch stand

For those who like retro gaming machines, Elago also sells a GameBoy-styled stand in your choice of four colors. The prices of these quirky chargers fluctuate a little between $ 12.99 to $ 15.99, depending on the style and what the sales are for.

All of these Apple Watch stands work on the same principle as the 128K Mac version: Pull the Apple Watch charging cable through the inside of the stand until the puck fits within a circular cutout. Then drop the clock into the slot built into each rack so that it contacts the puck and starts charging. Your watch screen then becomes a faux Mac, iPod or GameBoy screen.

The Bottom Line

It's too bad that AirPower proved impossible for Apple to build because it would have advanced the modern wireless charging technology. Other chargers from the likes of Vinpok and AirUnleashed mimic the look and feel of AirPower, but do not provide the underlying technology that was apparently too much for even Apple's engineers. (I tested an AirUnleashed test with high hopes, but the surface was light and I had trouble making it work reliably. If I have better luck with a replacement unit, I'll say something in the comments.)

So It is best to put AirPower out of your head and look for a charger if your approach, personality and price match your needs.

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