EDITORS’ RATING: 10/10
Back in the day, people had basic cell phones that could last a few days on a single charge. In 2022, the average person has a bunch of battery-powered devices that see heavy use every day. As a result, there’s a lot of charging to be done when you go to bed at night. One way to do things involves plugging a bunch of USB cables into a power source, then plugging each cable into one of your devices. If you just have a phone, this is practical. If you have a phone, tablet, smartwatch, earbuds, and more then it starts to become a bit of an issue.
Fortunately, this problem has a solution. Charging docks have been around for a while and allow you to put some power back into multiple devices at once. You only need one cable, which goes to the dock itself, and the unit handles the rest. Docks themselves have evolved a bit, originally they simply had an adapter for you to plug your phone into.
Now, most take advantage of wireless charging technology. As far as design goes, there are two schools of thought. Some docks are like little pieces of furniture, designed to make your bedside or desk look nice while providing a practical purpose. Others are supposed to be small and unobtrusive. They’re easy to tuck away when not in use and barely noticeable even when they are. Anker’s 3-in-1 Cube with MagSafe is of the latter design. Small and compact, while packing a punch.
What Anker is saying about it
Anker says the cube is “exclusively for Apple” and “a one-stop wireless charging solution for your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods.” It provides up to 15W of charging power through Apple’s MagSafe system, which also attaches the phone to a charger. The platform the phone is attached to via magnet can be adjusted to a 60-degree viewing angle, so you can still interact with or view your device while it’s recharging.
The 3-in-1 Cube is further described as “travel ready” and “ultra-compact” with Anker claiming it “fits easily in your palm or pocket” and can be taken with you anywhere you go. The cube itself connects to a power source via a USB-C cable, one of which is included. In total, the charger is capable of kicking out 30 Watts and three devices (phone, watch, and earbuds) can be placed on it at the same time.
It also comes with Anker’s 18-month “worry-free” warranty, so if anything goes wrong with it they’ll send you a new one. You can pick the 3-in-1 Cube up from both Apple and Anker’s respective websites for $149.99.
This will quickly charge your Apple products
Mileage may vary, but I found the 3-in-1 Cube to be on par with other MagSafe products. It got the iPhone 12 to around 50% battery in under an hour and had it fully charged in under two hours. Your phone will charge noticeably faster on this than it will with a cable from an average charging brick plugged into it, though it is likely slower than a 20W adapter and a cable capable of handling it.
Those five extra Watts will go a long way. While lightning-fast charging times are a bonus if you’re running low on juice and about to head out, the nature of the charging brick may make them unnecessary. You just get into the habit of dropping a phone on there every night, which is easier than rummaging for a cable and plugging it in, then you can wake up to a fully charged phone every morning.
The Apple Watch seemed to charge even quicker. It charges on a dedicated pop-out shelf that springs from the side of the cube with a slight push. If you drop an Apple Watch Series 8 on there with around a 20% charge, you can expect it to be full in under an hour.
This is very convenient for folks who like to track their sleep. They can drop their watch on the charger before taking a shower and getting ready, then leave the house with a full battery on their wrist. Charging both the phone and watch at the same time didn’t seem to slow things down, I didn’t have access to AirPods for this review, but Anker claims you can charge all three simultaneously.
Your phone has to be newer and devoid of a case
It’s worth noting that only MagSafe iPhones can really use this cube to its full potential. So if you want to buy the cube make sure you have an iPhone 12 or better. Other phones will still charge, but won’t magnetize to the stand so you can’t adjust the viewing angle. Plus, phones tend to be a lot larger than the cube is, so if you’re not using the MagSafe system your phone can easily get knocked off.
Another note has to be made about cases. The charger is powerful enough to charge your phone through a fairly thick case, it went through what must be ⅛ of an inch of leather and plastic on mine, but this is far from ideal. As with other MagSafe charging systems, a non-MagSafe case will either stop the magnet from working completely or severely weaken it.
Plus if you have a ring or something similar stuck to the back of your phone to help you mount or grip it, the chances are it won’t work at all. So for the best results, you’ll have to slap your phone on there without a case or use a case specifically designed to work with the MagSafe charging system.
It’s incredibly compact, but has a portability issue
The cube is absolutely tiny and folds away to near nothing. It’s a “cube,” so all of its sides are roughly equal. They’re around two and a half inches per side, with the watch charging tray poked in and the adjustable MagSafe phone pad folded down. So the cube won’t take up a ton of space in your bag or purse, and as Anker claims, it will actually fit into something like a jacket pocket. However, there is another issue and it is a bit of a double-edged sword.
This thing weighs a lot for its size. Its weight is at the point where you could convince yourself it’s a piece of space-age alien metal or something. This isn’t Anker’s fault, high quality charging requires plenty of copper, magnets tend to weigh a lot, and they’ve opted for a product that feels high-quality instead of a cheap block of plastic. If this was very light and had that cheap plastic feel instead of the high-quality plastic they’ve gone for — I would both think something is wrong and probably hate the thing.
So they’ve made the right choice, but that does impact you when traveling with it. First of all, if you put this in a pocket your coat will probably hang funny. It’s too heavy for that. It’s fine in a bag, but it weighs close to a pound which may cause a problem if you’re flying and prone to packing close to the weight limit. Conversely, a charging cable only weighs a few grams. These aren’t deal breakers, and as I’ve mentioned a “light” alternative would be a worse product, but they’re things you should be aware of if you want to travel with this charger.
Its weight has some other benefits
If you’re an Apple power user, you could easily end up piling close to $2,000 worth of tech on this tiny little box. An iPhone on its own costs around the same as an average week’s wages in the United States. Even though they’re designed to take a punch these days, seeing something that expensive take an unnecessary tumble could be a little bit soul-destroying. As you have to attach your phone sans case to get the best results, a drop could have even greater consequences.
Luckily, this tiny box is incredibly stable. MagSafe keeps your phone firmly attached to the cube, and the cube’s density coupled with a silicone ring on the bottom keeps it firmly attached to whatever surface you’re keeping it on. Could you knock it flying with a well-aimed slap? Of course, you could, but it’s hard to accidentally knock it over or off the surface you’re keeping it on.
You can use it for non-Apple phones
If you’re not an iPhone user, you can still use this to charge your phone provided that the device supports Qi Wireless charging. Non-Apple phones using the cube will charge but not quickly and won’t magnetize, as they don’t have Apple’s magnetic system. This also applies to older iPhones, as they had Qi charging going back to the iPhone 8. You can use them on the 3-in-1 Cube, but they won’t magnetize to the charging platform.
You can also buy a “MagSafe Case” but you’ll still experience problems associated with using a non-Apple device in Apple’s ecosystem. As far as watches go, Apple Watches have their own charging system, and most other smartwatches use something different, so you can’t expect to use a non-Apple watch with this. You’ll have a little bit more luck with earbuds, though non-Apple earbuds are less likely to support wireless charging. The spot underneath the MagSafe phone stand is just a 5W wireless charging platform, so any pair of earbuds or any other object that supports that kind of wireless charging could still work with it.
With all of this in mind, should you buy this if you aren’t an Apple user? Probably not. If you haven’t got at least an iPhone, and ideally an Apple Watch, you’re not going to get the most out of this product and would probably be better off just buying a cheaper Qi charging pad. If you are an Apple user, its compatibility with non-apple devices is a bonus. Now when you have a friend with a failing phone battery or some dud earbuds, you don’t have to shamefully admit to your lack of USB-C cables. Just point them toward your wireless charger and tell them it’ll charge their phone faster anyway.
You can get more out of your phone with this
The MagSafe portion of this charger is adjustable up to an angle of 60 degrees. This feature is pretty understated but is also arguably the best thing about Anker’s 3-in-1 cube. If the cube lives on your bedside table, which is where the one Anker sent me to test has spent the last few weeks, it opens up a range of possibilities. Your phone becomes a mini-TV and smart assistant. You can drift off to sleep with a YouTube video or Netflix series playing away, safe in the knowledge you’ll wake up to a fully charged phone battery even though you forgot to turn the screen off. Similarly, you can set your device up so it displays some useful widgets, like the weather, time, and any appointments you have, while it’s sitting on the charger.
In terms of viewing angle, you can have your phone orientated vertically, in “portrait mode,” or horizontally in “landscape mode” and it will attach and charge all the same. It can also go beyond the bedside table. Plug it in and set it up on a train, plane, or even in the back of a car and you can keep yourself entertained on the move. Its silicone bottom, stable shape, and weight mean it’s unlikely to topple over while you’re on the move. Couple all of this with Siri’s voice activation feature and you’ve basically got a full-blown replacement for Google Home or Amazon Alexa.
This is a solid buy for any Apple user
If you’ve got an iPhone, I can solidly recommend this product. It gets even better the more Apple devices you have. Its practicality increases greatly if you have a watch to charge, and letting your earbuds live on the back of it is a good way to keep them charged and safe. It’s an amazing bedside addition and a solid travel companion. It also saves you the trouble of taking up to three cables with you, and could even help you out if you have a non-Apple-using friend who’s low on battery.
If you’re an Apple user, honestly just buy this. Conversely, if you aren’t an Apple user, you will get some functionality but lose most of the 3-in-1 Cube’s features. I’m not going to mark Anker down for this, because they’ve clearly just made this for people who own multiple Apple devices, sell it on Apple’s website, and have marketed it entirely toward Apple users. But if you have a Samsung, you’re reading this review, and you’re thinking “this charging box is great” then stop. Yes, it is great, but it isn’t for you, unfortunately.
I’m racking my brain trying to think of something I can genuinely criticize Anker for here, and I can’t come up with anything. Any “faults” I’ve mentioned are unavoidable, or just me picking up on something the Cube isn’t actually designed for. They’ve made an incredibly good product here that does everything it is meant to do. It’s a 10/10 all day long.