It’s been almost exactly a year since Apple announced AirPower at its iPhone X event, showing the world its ambitious take on wireless charging with a new mat that could power three devices at once: an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and, through a new wireless-enabled case, AirPods.
There’s been total radio silence since then, however, leaving the world in an endless purgatory of plugging cables into AirPods cases. If you were to take the perhaps not unreasonable position that Apple is over-engineering its solution and should have just brought regular Qi charging to the AirPods, or if you simply don’t want to buy an expensive new charging mat and AirPods case, the PowerPod Case might be for you.
Funded on Kickstarter, it’s a silicone case for your AirPods case. There’s a Lightning plug on the bottom hooked up to a Qi charging coil on the front; place your case face down on a Qi-compatible pad and it’ll start to charge. Unlike Apple’s AWOL AirPods case, there’s no external LED to confirm charging status, so you’ll have to rely on any status indicator that the Qi pad may have.
The PowerPod Case isn’t very thick at all and doesn’t add much noticeable bulk to the AirPods case. The black silicone can pick up lint, however, and you might see a little more friction when taking it out of your pocket.
Another quirk is that wireless charging produces quite a lot of heat; this is common to pretty much every Qi device, but there aren’t many Qi devices that you insert into your ears. It does feel a little odd at first for the AirPods to be warm to the touch.
Overall, though, the product does what it claims: it lets you charge your AirPods case on any Qi charger. I tested with the Mophie mat that Apple sells in its stores as well as a random charging pad with a panda on it that I got for about $10 from Amazon Japan. Both worked fine; at one point I did take the case off the panda mat to find that it hadn’t charged, but it turned out that the Lightning plug wasn’t fully inserted. Charging speed seemed in line with what I’d expect from using a regular cable.
At this point, you should definitely wait to see whatever Apple announces about AirPower next week before thinking about picking up a PowerPod Case. But at $40, it’s likely to be a simpler and significantly cheaper solution if all you care about is making your AirPods work with your existing Qi setup.