Review: Zens Modular Series Provides Customizable Qi Charging at a Steep Price
Last month, Zens announced a new modular wireless charging station, which lets you mix and match various pieces to create a charging set-up that fits your needs. In terms of Apple products, you can use the new accessory to charge iPhones, Apple Watch, and AirPods.
There are five total accessories in this line, three "Main Stations" that act as starting point for the modular system, and two "extensions." Zens sent us three pieces of the system to try out in this review.
· Modular Single Wireless Charger Main Station - €59.99· Modular Stand Wireless Charger Main Station - €69.99· Modular Dual Wireless Charger Main Station - €99.99· Modular Single Wireless Charger Extension - €39.99· Modular Apple Watch Charger Extension - €49.99
This highlights one of the biggest drawbacks of the new Zens modular charging system: its price tag. The base entry-level price to get started is just about $72 (for the cheapest Main Station), and if you really want to get the full use of the modular system, you'll likely want to add at least one of the extensions at either $48 or $60.
Zens sent us a Modular Dual Wireless Charger Main Station, Modular Single Wireless Charger Extension, and Modular Apple Watch Charger Extension, totaling just under $230. While most people won't need to spend this much and should be okay with only purchasing one or two pieces of the system, the fact that its best potential is locked behind such a steep price point is unfortunate.
That being said, like other Zens accessories that I've had a chance to review, the modular system is a reliable and well designed accessory. The Modular Dual Wireless Charger Main Station is far lighter than the Zens Liberty Wireless Charger, which was closer to being an AirPower alternative thanks to its ability to let you place Qi-supported devices anywhere on the surface to charge. This modular system does not support that feature.
The Modular Dual Wireless Charger Main Station functions like any other Qi mat, with two specific hotspots for an iPhone, AirPods, or Android smartphone with Qi support. The surface is made from recycled plastics, but it almost has a rubbery feel to it, making it feel safe to place an iPhone on it without a case.
One notable downside of the Main Station for me was the placement of a small LED on the back of the mat, indicating a confirmed charging status. Like some of my personal least favorite Qi mats, this LED is bright enough to be annoying at night, lighting up the opposite wall of my bedroom and requiring a small piece of tape to cover it up.
To connect extensions to the Main Station, all you have to do is align the magnets on the side of each accessory until they click together. You have free reign to put an extension on either side of any Main Station accessory, and can even connect extensions onto other extensions (as long as it's all sourced to a Main Station, which is powered by a basic AC adapter).
There is a slight limit to this modular system, however, in that extensions can only be chained to the left or right of one another. There aren't any ports on the front or back of either the Main Stations or extensions. I have a somewhat small bedside table, so I couldn't fit the Main Station and two extensions in a row without having to move my lamp. It would have been nice to create an L-shaped pattern for even further customization options.
The Modular Single Wireless Charger Extension is the perfect size to charge the AirPods or AirPods Pro, but it can also charge up a smartphone. Zens also makes a Modular Stand Wireless Charger Main Station if you prefer your iPhone to sit vertically while charging, but we didn't have a chance to try this one out.
If you own an iPhone 12 model and have been using MagSafe for wireless charging, it also may be difficult to return to traditional Qi mats. After just a few weeks of being able to use the magnets in my iPhone 12 Pro to find the MagSafe charger on my bedside table in the dark, having to fumble and repeatedly raise and lower my iPhone until I hit the hotspot on the Zens charger was quite a step back.
*Bottom Line*If you're willing to pay a steep price, the Zens modular wireless charging station is a solid Qi charger with a range of add-ons that provide an organized space to charge all of your Apple products. You can purchase one of the Main Stations on the Zens website, as well as all of the extensions.
Note: Zens provided MacRumors with a Modular Dual Wireless Charger Main Station, Modular Single Wireless Charger Extension, and Modular Apple Watch Charger Extension for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received.
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