Review: 4 wireless chargers for both smartphone and watch (one of which does earbuds, too)

These wireless chargers for Apple and Android devices offer the option of powering up your smartphone and smartwatch at the same time – though the features and prices differ significantly. And one can also charge earbuds.

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Another issue I came across is that the Belkin is quite stingy with the alignment of a smartphone on the charging stand; an iPhone must be carefully centered for it to begin charging. (I'm guessing the charger has a single internal charging coil that only allows for a quarter-inch off-center deviation before it will fail to make the charging handshake.)

While this next criticism may seem minor, for people who use reading glasses, it's important. The directions, safety instructions, and warranty are written on a single sheet of paper in text so small, most people over the age of 25 will need a magnifying glass (and reading glasses) to see them; that's not particularly user friendly. Conversely, I could easily read every other charger's documentation.

Belkin wireless charger IDG

The Belkin BOOST↑UP Wireless Charging Dock in action.

The Belkin BOOST↑UP Wireless Charging Dock comes in white or black and has a two-year warranty. Currently, it is only available on Apple's accessories website, but Belkin plans to begin offering it through its own site within a few weeks.

The BOOST↑UP Wireless Charging Dock comes with a two-year warranty, and you get an additional year if you register the device.

Overall, I liked the BOOST↑UP for its smartphone charging stand and its USB-A port, allowing a user to charge up to three devices from a single outlet. However, I didn't think this charger was as visually appealing as the others and it was less capable because it doesn't fast charge Android smartphones.

Finally, with a $160 price tag, the Belkin charger is by far the most expensive of the four I reviewed; considering it's limited to working only with Apple devices, that high price doesn't seem warranted.

ZealSound's Dual Fast Charger

ZealSound's Dual Fast Wireless Charger IDG

ZealSound's Dual Fast Charger

This wireless charger caught my eye for its simple design and versatility. I wasn't familiar with the maker, ZealSound, whose main business appears to be audio equipment, but after searching its site (and Amazon) I found several products with relatively positive reviews, especially for its earbuds.

I'm not sure what to make of ZealSound itself. The company is located in Shenzhen, China. Its website doesn't display the charger it sells. What does all that mean? In two words: Caveat emptor. Still, the product is real and pretty darned cool.

ZealSound's Dual Fast Wireless Charger is minimalistic and stylish. It's just an oval pad with a tempered glass surface; that's it. No markings. No charging posts. No smartphone stand. Yet, it has heft. For its small size – just 2¾-in. by 5¾-in. and 1/4-in. thick – it feels like a quality product.

The charger has a lightning and USB C-Type connector in the rear. The charger comes with a 3.3-foot-long USB-A to USB-C cable but mine came with no electrical outlet adapter. Their product image on Amazon does show an outlet adapter for the USB cord, so perhaps I didn't receive one because mine was a review unit.

This charging pad will only charge one watch (an Apple Watch or Moto 360) and either an iPhone 8 or newer or Android smartphone that's Qi-enabled. It offers three charging modes for smartphones, 10W, 7.5W and 5W; the first three generations of Apple Watches charge at 2.5W. It cannot charge an Apple Watch 4.

ZealSound's Dual Fast Charger IDG

ZealSound's Dual Fast Charger with an Apple Watch 3 charging on it.

The ZealSound Dual Fast Wireless Charger's LED charging indicator light and the charger power turn off automatically when your device is fully charged. There's a round depression on one side of the charger to indicate where an Apple Watch should be placed to activate the Magnetic Charging Mode.

The ZealSound wireless charger offers four color options for its bezel ring: black, red, silver or blue.

The company claims the charger has an intelligent temperature control system to ensure cooler, more efficient, charging and it uses a "premium copper coil" for faster charging and heat dissipation. While charging my iPhone 8 and an Apple Watch on the pad, I didn't detect any heat build up.

ZealSound wireless charger ZealSound

An exploded view of the ZealSound Dual Fast Charger, showing the two copper charging coils -- one for an Apple Watch and the other for a Qi-enabled smart phone.

As ZealSound's wireless charging surface is only a flat pad, sans smartwatch charging post or smartphone stand, it's not ideal for receiving notifications or watching video while your devices charge. On the other hand, it will take up the least amount of side table or desktop space of any dual-device wireless charger out there.

The company offers a "one year no hassle refund and exchange warranty" and 24-hour ZealSound Service apparently accessible either through Amazon.com or email. Having corresponded with ZealSound using their email, I can tell you it's not 24-hour service; the rep I was dealing with responded nine or more business hours after a request.

At just $40, the ZealSound Dual Fast Wireless Charger is the least expensive of the four I reviewed. Considering that you're buying from a start-up company, that's a good thing; it reduces your potential loss should something go wrong.

While it only charges two devices at the same time (just as Samsung's does) and it doesn't come with an electrical outlet converter – only a USB cable – it's still a handy little device for what it is. If bedside table space is at a premium, this charger would fit the bill.

A final recommendation...

While all four wireless chargers have some positive attributes, none of them do it all. That is, none of them will charge all of the Qi-enabled smartphones and watches now available. If you're tied to the Apple ecosystem, I recommend the Zens charger because it can charge two smartphones simultaneously and does the best job of positioning an Apple Watch. 

If you're not all-in with Apple, the Samsung device should meet your needs. The good news is there will be more of these chargers hitting the market over the next few months, making it easier to pick the one that's just right for you.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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