Review: Zens Liberty Wireless Charger is a Solid AirPower Alternative With Room for Two Qi Devices and Apple Watch

Friday January 17, 2020 5:31 AM PST by Mitchel Broussard

It's been nearly one year since Apple cancelled the AirPower wireless charging mat, which would have allowed you to place your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods anywhere on the mat to wirelessly charge each device. In the subsequent months, numerous third-party companies have stepped forward in an attempt to reproduce this product, and now Zens has released its own take on an AirPower-like device: the Zens Liberty 16 Coils Wireless Charger.


Zens' charger features 16 overlapping charging coils, letting you place any two Qi-enabled devices anywhere on the mat to charge them. It supports a total output of 30W, Apple Fast Charge, a USB-A port for wired charging of a third device (or attaching the ‌Apple Watch‌ USB stick accessory), and a USB-C power adapter.


Zens sent me both the Liberty Fabric Edition and the Liberty Glass Edition, which are the same product with different finishes on the Qi surface of the mat. The Fabric Edition sports a woolen upholstery textile that's made of 90 percent wool, ensuring the back of your devices won't be scratched, while the Glass Edition has a see-through surface that showcases the 16 charging coils.


In terms of their design, I preferred the subtlety of the Fabric Edition over the Glass Edition, which stands out far more. Both Liberty Wireless Chargers have a rubberized outer shell and sturdy bases with large footprints (8.8 inches long x 5.3 inches wide). The textile on top of the Fabric Edition lends the device a luxurious feel and look, which is good given that these are high-end chargers that exceed $140.

Charging times across the board aligned with typical Qi wireless charging estimates. My iPhone 11 Pro Max was topped off at 100% consistently every night I used the Zens Liberty charger, and I never faced any mysterious disconnects or interruptions in my time with the accessory.


As with any wireless charger, charging times are not as fast as using a Lightning or USB-C cable, but Zens' accessory is perfect for trickle charging at your desk or overnight near your bed. Similarly, the USB Stick performed as expected for an ‌Apple Watch‌ charger, with performance on par with Apple's own Magnetic Charging Dock.

After a few days, the Zens Liberty charger quickly replaced my previous Belkin Qi mat next to my bed. Zens' promise of "freedom of placement" on the mat turned out to be entirely accurate, allowing me to throw down my ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ in nearly any orientation without having to worry about landing on the Qi "sweet spot," which is something I constantly fussed with on the Belkin charger.


The nearly 9-inch mat is large enough to hold two Max-sized iPhones, but I mainly used mine to charge up my ‌iPhone 11 Pro Max‌ and AirPods Pro on the Qi base. While the Liberty charger doesn't quite meet the promise of AirPower's three-device Qi charging, what it provides for two devices is a reliable and frictionless wireless charging experience, with the added bonus of charging your ‌Apple Watch‌ with an accessory you can purchase separately.


This MFi certified ‌Apple Watch‌ USB Stick is a tiny dongle with an ‌Apple Watch‌ charging puck attached to the end, allowing you to charge your ‌Apple Watch‌ through any USB-A port. When connected to the Zens Liberty Wireless Charger on a special port at the back of the Qi mat area, the dongle turns into a little upright stand that can charge your ‌Apple Watch‌ in Nightstand Mode.

Bottom Line

The Zens Liberty Wireless Charger is a solid ‌AirPower‌ alternative that provides dependable wireless charging to any two Qi-compatible devices like the iPhone 11, ‌AirPods‌, and more.


Of course, the ability to freely place your devices anywhere on the mat and the high-quality design mean you'll pay a premium for the accessory.

How to Buy

The Liberty Fabric Edition costs $139.99 (€139.99), while the Glass Edition costs $179.99 (€179.99). Both models come with a three-year extended warranty. The Apple Watch USB Stick is available separately for $39.99 (€39.99).

Note: MacRumors received the Zens Liberty Fabric Edition, Zens Liberty Glass Edition, and Zens ‌Apple Watch‌ USB Stick for the purposes of this review. No other compensation was received.

Tag: ZENS

Top Rated Comments

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Avatar
11 weeks ago


That protruding Apple Watch charging point is the deal breaker for me...it’s not a true alternative to Apple’s original concept and therefore not worth the price they’re asking for.

Go back to the drawing boards and make it a flat all-in-one!

nobody will. Apple Watch uses a proprietary charging standard. It’s probably one of the reasons AirPower failed.

I actually prefer this solution so the watch can be used in nightstand mode.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 weeks ago
That protruding Apple Watch charging point is the deal breaker for me...it’s not a true alternative to Apple’s original concept and therefore not worth the price they’re asking for.

Go back to the drawing boards and make it a flat all-in-one!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 weeks ago
there's no such thing as an "AirPower alternative" any more than there's a perpetual motion machine alternative
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 weeks ago
Seems like a solid offering. If AirPower had come out at $140, this forum would have flipped out. It’ll be interesting to see what reaction this one gets.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 weeks ago


How can it be an “alternative” to something that doesn’t even exist? Please redo this misleading headline.

The vaporware AirPower is the benchmark by which all other chargers that claim to do the same thing are measured by.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
11 weeks ago


It is. But this product delivers what I would want, I can ‘multi-charge’ three devices at once versus just one at a time like most wireless chargers offer.

If you don't need the "place anywhere" aspect, Ikea sells a three device charger for $40 ('https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/nordmaerke-triple-pad-for-wireless-charging-white-cork-00423919/').

You have to center the devices on any of the three spots, so not as nice... but it is also $100 cheaper.
[automerge]1579289105[/automerge]

Your views on wireless charging and the Qi standard seem pretty dated. It definitely ain't about trickle charging.

I also think folks who haven't used Qi charging don't realize the potential paradigm shift.

Cable charging is always a conscious act - you must be intentional about it since it requires the additional action of plugging in the cable.

With a couple Qi pads placed in your usual spots where you'd set your phone down anyway, charging becomes more unintentional. I find this most apparent at the office - with cables I'd usually not bother plugging in since I am so often leaving my desk for meetings or whatever. With a Qi pad where I lay my phone, it's always charged at the end of the day -- without my taking any distinct action.

And at 7.5W charging capability on an iphone, that's faster than the included 5W brick anyway.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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