Tesla has opened preorders for a wireless charging mat that can accommodate up to three devices placed however you want, and that comes in a form factor “inspired by the angular design and metallic styling of Cybertruck.” The gadget is called the Wireless Charging Platform, and it costs $300. For that hefty price you get the mat, a removable magnetic stand that lets you prop the pad up at an angle or lay it flat, and some tech that we once called “the most promising AirPower alternative.”
Underneath the alcantara fabric cover, Tesla’s charger has a whopping 30 Qi charging coils, which will charge your device no matter what orientation it’s in, or where you put it on the platform. According to Tesla’s site, the device was “engineered with FreePower wireless charging technology.” If that name doesn’t ring a bell to you, it may be because it’s new — the company used to go by Aira, and in 2020 we called its (buggy at the time) system “the closest thing to AirPower” that we could find.
Speaking of AirPower… a lot of people have compared the Wireless Charging Platform to Apple’s now-canceled product, and I totally get why. The iPhone-maker also promised an accessory that would charge up to three devices at once, no matter where they were on the pad. But that was really only part of what made AirPower so interesting; during its announcement, Apple said you could also use the mat to charge your Apple Watch, and that it and your devices would “intelligently work together and communicate with each other to manage the charging through one more efficient charging system.”
Meanwhile, Tesla isn’t promising any of those things. That means you won’t be able to use the platform to charge your Apple, Galaxy, or Pixel Watch, since most wearables aren’t compatible with the Qi standard. And Tesla’s page makes no mention of devices being able to communicate to achieve maximum charging efficiency.
It’s debatable whether that last point is that important, though. With a 65W power adapter, and the ability to pump out up to 15W to all three devices, does Tesla need to optimize for efficiency like Apple planned to do in 2018? I don’t think that’d be a make-or-break feature for me, though the smartwatch thing is a big bummer — the whole point of this type of product is to have one place to charge all your devices, and this can’t do that for a lot of people. (I suspect there are more wearable owners than people who have to charge two phones on the regular, but I could be wrong.)
Not that I would’ve considered dropping $300 on a wireless charging pad anyways. I just don’t have enough devices to need something like that, and even if I did I feel like the charger’s dimensions would be limiting. If you want to fit three devices onto it, they’re going to be pretty packed together, making the ability to put those devices anywhere less handy. And if I’m just charging a device or two, this type of charger pretty overkill. Plus, an “integrated” USB-C power cable on such an expensive device is absolutely a dealbreaker for me, considering that I have a cable-munching gremlin living in my house.
The good news is that Tesla’s charger isn’t completely unique — Nomad’s Base Station Pro made pretty similar promises years ago and used Aira’s tech, though it provided significantly slower charging. (The company seems to have moved towards using magnets to align your devices in the latest version of the Base Station.) And if you’re willing to give up the ability to lay your device down anywhere, you can easily get chargers for three or four devices for significantly less than $300. This one from Mophie even gives you little cutouts that should take the guesswork out of where to put your device for optimal charging.
But if you’re the type of person who wants to be able to wirelessly fast charge three devices at once, or hate having to carefully place your phone and earbuds down on a charging pad (and you’re okay with giving money to Elon Musk), it’s cool to see FreePower’s tech showing up in more chargers. And hey, even with its eye-watering price, Tesla’s charger is still way cheaper than this luxury three-device FreePower charger.
Tesla says the Wireless Charging Platform will start shipping in February 2023.
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