Hands-On With Tesla's $300 AirPower-Like Wireless Charger
Back in December, Tesla announced the launch of a $300 multi-device wireless charger able to charge three Qi devices at one time. There are notable parallels to Apple's now-canceled AirPower charging mat, so we thought we'd check it out to see what it's like.
Design wise, the charger is a flat, angular platform made from aluminum with an alcantara fabric top, which Tesla says was inspired by the Cybertruck. There's some subtle Tesla branding at the front, an LED light to let you know when charging is taking place, and an integrated USB-C cable.
The charger is heavy and well made, but the integrated cable is a negative because if it breaks, there's no way to replace it. Tesla includes a 65W wall adapter that's also modeled after the Cybertruck, plus a removable stand that can be used to transition the charger from a flat orientation to more of an angled orientation.
The Tesla Wireless Charging Platform is able to charge up to three devices at one time from any position on the charging base, which is how Apple wanted the AirPower to work. Three devices can receive up to 15W of power, though iPhones will be limited to 7.5W since this is Qi charging.
Unlike the AirPower, Tesla's Wireless Charging Platform does not work with the Apple Watch, but it is compatible with Qi-based iPhones and AirPod models. Given the size of the device, you're probably not going to be able to charge three large smartphones, but two smartphones and a set of AirPods works.
Tesla's charging mat is using FreePower, a technology from Aira that we have seen used in other Qi-based wireless chargers. The Base Station Pro from Nomad, for example, used FreePower and it was remarkably similar to the Tesla product. The Base Station Pro ran into trouble because it was not able to work properly with the iPhone 12 and later due to firmware issues, and it remains to be seen if the Tesla charger will have similar problems with future smartphones.
The Tesla Wireless Charging Platform works as advertised, and generally, you can place a device anywhere on the platform to get it to charge. Position does still matter somewhat, though, because you still need to make sure you have a good alignment with a coil to get the full charging speed.
At $300, and with only Qi-based charging, it's not worth buying the Tesla Wireless Charging Platform unless you're a Tesla superfan. At this point, a MagSafe charger is a much better use of your money if you're in the Apple ecosystem.
What do you think of Tesla's charger? Let us know in the comments below.
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