Each year, Chromebooks become thinner and more portable, but this unfortunately comes at the cost of once-indispensable ports like HDMI and Ethernet. Some devices, like the Pixelbook, don’t even have so much as a full USB-A port.
These can, of course, each be replaced with a separate dongle, but many Chromebooks have only two USB-C ports, which would make it impossible to use two dongles and charge simultaneously. The Moshi Symbus Q, which plugs in with just one USB-C port, is able to replace all of these dongles, charge your Chromebook, and wirelessly charge your phone simultaneously.
It’s no secret that we here at 9to5Google are fans of Moshi’s hardware design. Their “Q” line of wireless charging accessories in particular, as also noted by our Damien Wilde in his review of the Moshi Porto Q power bank, features dark gray fabric that is reminiscent of the Google Home Mini.
This fabric is equally prominent on the Moshi Symbus Q, covering the top side of the device, and it’s overlaid with a stylish pattern of rubber material. This, beyond just looking nice, helps keep your phone from sliding while on the wireless charger. The body of the dock features brushed aluminum, which not only looks very sleek, but also helps dissipate heat (more on that later).
On the front of the dock, there’s what Moshi calls a “Smart LED” indicator, which is supposed to be a good way to tell at a glance whether your devices are charged or actively charging. If your laptop is charging, the light is orange, and changes to green when full. When your phone is receiving a wireless charge, the light strobes gently. Unfortunately the indicator’s utility may be limited, as it seems to get stuck on the unit I reviewed after a day or two.
Overall, the Moshi Symbus Q is a gorgeous accessory that I am more than happy to have on my desk.
The Moshi Symbus Q has a veritable laundry list of features and capabilities that would likely be best presented by an As Seen on TV salesman shouting “but wait, there’s more!” To simplify things, we can break down the features into two categories, ports and power.
On the front side of the Symbus Q, you’ll find two standard USB-A ports, one of which can also be used for charging a device. These are both USB 3.1 compatible, and are perfect for plugging in some extra storage, or doing some Android development work.
Around the back of the dock is a Gigabit Ethernet port and an HDMI port that can output up to a 4K/30FPS signal. I experienced no issues whatsoever while using the HDMI-out, and actually saw a very minor speed boost while using Ethernet instead of WiFi on the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook.
While none of these features, separately, are too exciting, combined together they can give any Chromebook the full “desktop” experience. By connecting a keyboard, mouse, and monitor to the Moshi Symbus Q, you can very quickly turn a Chromebook into a Chromebox.
One of my personal favorite parts of the Moshi Symbus Q is that it replaces two devices that would normally each need their own wall outlets—a laptop charger and a phone charger. The single, consolidated power source for the Symbus Q is a traditional plug on one end and a barrel jack on the other, with a brick in the middle. Admittedly not the prettiest arrangement, but for a device that’s meant to be a more permanent installation, it’s certainly acceptable.
The barrel jack plugs into the back of the dock, and just beneath that is the USB-C connection which provides up to 60W of power and more to your Chromebook. This cable is about 18 inches long, which is more than long enough to allow you to shift your (literal) desktop around while leaving the Moshi Symbus Q in place. If your laptop only has one USB-C port, you will almost certainly need to keep the dock on that side of the device.
The top of the Moshi Symbus Q, as with all other members of Moshi’s “Q” line, is a fabric-covered wireless charging pad. This provides up to 10W of wireless charging to any Qi-compatible device, including 10W to Samsung devices and 7.5W to iOS devices. The previously mentioned rubber pattern grips your phone steady, and in my (crude) testing, I was able to tilt the Symbus Q to the side by 45° before my uncased Pixel 3 began to slide.
The biggest issue with the Moshi Symbus Q only arises when you need to charge both your laptop and your phone simultaneously — that issue is the heat. Wireless charging, by itself, already tends to create a bit of heat, and if you’ve ever touched the Pixelbook’s power adapter midway through a charge, you know exactly how hot USB-C charging can be.
The Moshi Symbus Q’s aluminum chassis does its best to dissipate the heat. Despite this, I still find that charging both a Chromebook and a phone simultaneously makes both the dock and your phone quite warm. I wouldn’t say dangerously warm, but certainly warmer than what I would prefer. One thing I don’t know for sure is whether these temperatures have anything to do with the Pixel 3’s compatibility issues with 10W charging.
A note to Pixel 3 owners
In my time testing the Moshi Symbus Q, I often used it to wirelessly charge my Pixel 3. One very interesting aspect that I noted is that unlike almost all other standard 10W Qi chargers, the Symbus Q is briefly able to charge the Pixel 3 at a full 10W rate.
This was even reflected on the lock screen which indicated “Charging rapidly.” After a few minutes, the phone switches back to 5W (or sometimes 2.5W) charging, with the lock screen indicating that the phone was “Charging slowly.”
I reached out to Google and they confirmed that, unlike some other Moshi accessories, the Symbus Q is not a Made for Google certified product and shouldn’t be capable of wireless fast charging, even briefly. What exactly this means for Pixel owners is still unknown, but we’re keeping tabs on the situation.
For now though, I can’t yet recommend the Symbus Q to Pixel 3 owners looking for a wireless charger, as, while it sometimes charges the Pixel quickly, most of the time excess heat causes charging to be drastically slower.
Should the Symbus Q get proper certification for 10W charging for the Pixel 3, it would become an easy recommendation in my book.
Should you buy the Moshi Symbus Q?
If you regularly use your Chromebook (or any USB-C charging laptop) at a desk, then the Moshi Symbus Q is a very worthy purchase — despite its high price tag. Simply put, the Symbus Q can do the job of three dongles and two chargers, all while looking good doing so. The Moshi Symbus Q can (and should) be yours for $165.