Apple, you’ll remember, announced a gadget called AirPower, a classy-looking wireless charging pad that let you plonk an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods down however you liked and they’d charge.
As you’ll also know, Apple couldn’t make it work and canned the device, turning its attentions to reviving MagSafe instead.
Instead, rivals came up with alternatives that would do the job instead. Some even looked rather like the AirPower original. Read on for a review of the newest charging pad on the block, from Belkin, plus the best alternatives.
Belkin Boost Charge Pro 3-In-1 Wireless Charging Pad with MagSafe
$149.99 from belkin.com
This is the newest wireless charging pad from Belkin, and it’s fantastic. It looks slick and cool in a soft-touch matte finish. Choose from black or white.
The Belkin device isn’t small but it earns the space it takes up. And it has two exceptional extras compared to mostother charging pads. First, the iPhone charging panel has MagSafe built in, so you can be sure your iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 is perfectly placed to charge. Of course, it works with other wireless-chargeable iPhones or smartphones—it’s just better with MagSafe-enabled phones.
Second, this is the best charging pad for Apple Watch Series 7 users. That’s because the latest Watch has a faster recharge time than previous Watches, but only if you have the improved charging puck which comes in the box with Series 7. Other Apple Watch chargers, including the MagSafe Duo from Apple, only charge Series 7 at the slower rate.
This pad, however, comes with the new puck built in, which is cool. The puck lies flat but can be folded up to work in NightStand position. Oh, and there’s a neat attention to detail here: the Watch stand adjusts in height (you turn the dial underneath the pad) so that it’s a perfect fit whether you have a 38mm or 45mm Watch, or anything in between, and it will also fit some Watches if you have clad them in a case (though why anyone would do that is a mystery to me).
The pad has a light that comes on to indicate it’s charging, though only for the central part of the pad, which is where AirPods Pro and AirPods 3rd generation sit. I’d have liked visual clues for all the devices. Of course, once an iPhone is in place, any light would be hidden, but there could have been three LEDs in the central area to indicate charging was taking place, no?
Overall, this is a highly effective and attractive charging pad. It’s also versatile: there are charging sockets for connecting a USB-C and a USB-A cable.
Nomad Base Station Apple Watch Edition
$149.95 from nomadgoods.com
This is, hands-down the best-looking charging pad you’ll find. It’s available without the Apple Watch charger that sits at the back of the pad, if you don’t need to charge a Watch. This model does not have the MagSafe magnetic design but there’s also a model with magnetic compatibility (again, without Watch charging). Note that the magnetic option is not full MagSafe, but it still helps with placement.
Nomad makes consistently excellent products and this is a suitably capable and elegant charging solution. Nomad’s particularly good with leather and the fact that this is made with a padded leather charging pad adds to the premium quality. It has a lower profile than the Belkin, just 1cm, which makes it more discreet-looking, too. The build is aluminum but the dark color means it can blend in easily.
Apple MagSafe Duo
$129 from apple.com
This cute little portable charger is two squares (with rounded corners, of course) that folds up for travel. It charges an iPhone or wireless chargeable AirPods case on one pad, while the other charges the Apple Watch and folds up to make it better compatible with some bands. As such, it can charge two gadgets at the same time, but not all three together. Still, the MagSafe connection for the iPhone pad means it works especially well with AirPods 3rd generation and AirPods Pro with MagSafe.
It’s light and effective, though note that the iPhone 13 Pro looks like it doesn’t fit quite right—though it still charges fine. Similarly, this was released before Apple Watch Series 7, so it doesn’t have the faster charging capabilities found on the Belkin pad.
$99 from airunleashed.com
AirUnleashed came up with its charging pad as a direct answer to the AirPower mat. There are crosses on each end where the iPhone and AirPods can be charged, plus a subtle dip around the middle which is where you can place the Apple Watch (though there are some straps which make this less than convenient). But it works well and looks great. If you have two iPhones you’d like to charge simultaneously, you can do that, too, or two sets of AirPods. It’s only the middle charger that’s specific to one device, the Apple Watch. Available in black and white finishes.