We first covered AirUnleashed earlier in the year in the wake of Apple’s decision to unceremoniously dump AirPower in the bin after an 18-month gestation period that saw it never leave the Apple labs.
So was Apple’s vision really so hard to realise? The designers of AirUnleashed clearly don’t think so and so have designed a very similar-looking pad complete with Apple white upper (and non-slip suede-style base). Again it will charge all variants of Apple Watch, AirPods 2 with the wireless charging case and any Qi-compliant phone, although is 7.5W rated for the iPhone.
Now we’ve seen a sample, the 12mm-thick AirUnleashed is, essentially, a version of Apple’s AirPower that works. We’re now seeing others like Mophie hit the market with similar devices, too (amusingly, Apple itself is selling Mophie’s version).
However, it’s worth pointing out that there is a key difference between AirUnleashed and what AirPower would have been.
AirPower was intended by Apple to be a charging mat that you could basically just chuck devices on. Wherever the devices were, they would charge. And that was too high a bar for Apple to leap over, without making the device too charging coil-tastic and, essentially, having the thing overheat.
Putting charging coils in a mat for phones like the iPhone XS or Samsung Galaxy S10 is easy, just as it is for Apple’s AirPods with wireless charging case. They’re Qi compliant.
But for Apple Watch it is a little bit of a different scenario. While Watch uses essentially the same technology, it won’t charge from regular Qi wireless chargers. And that means that AirUnleashed – and others like it – have to have a specific place for the Apple Watch to reside and charge. In AirUnleashed’s case, this is a little divot in the surface of the middle of the pad.
So essentially what you have here is a mat with two charging coils either side and an Apple Watch charger in the middle. And it works excellently, all three devices started charging right away and the Watch safely nestled in position.
The two outer coils do have different wattages – 7.5W for the iPhone on the left and 5W for the AirPods on the right. Although you could use the right-hand coil to charge a phone should you want to, it’s just a lower-rated Qi charger.
AirUnleashed is $99 – that’s $50 cheaper than the expected AirPower price and there’s free shipping worldwide. You don’t get a wall charger with the device, however. We guess that’s down to not wanting to localise chargers within the box. But to work at its maximum, it needs a Quick Charge 2.0 2A at 5V (10W) charger, so the standard iPhone charger isn’t enough to power AirUnleashed.
The AirUnleashed site does offer a Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 charger with a max output of 18W – it costs $19 and is available in US, UK and EU variants but you may already have a similar charger with another phone that with a higher output than 5W.
AirUnleashed has quickly become our go-to charger and we’re using it regularly. It’s probably best for those who charge all of their Apple devices overnight. We do tend to keep our watch on sometimes – for a vibrating alarm, for example – or use our AirPods in bed, so we don’t always charge our devices simultaneously. For those that do, however, it’s brilliant.
I post weekly videos to my YouTube Channel, and the videos could be anything from the latest Tech News, Smartphone News, Gadget Reviews, Streaming Tips, VPN reviews and much more!