- We break down what to look for in a wireless charger and share our favorites.
- Wireless chargers come in many forms.
Wireless charging is one of the biggest changes in tech and there are many names — from Apple to Samsung, LG, Motorola and even Google — in the game. And in most cases, you can get the same charging speeds that you’d normally achieve from a cord.
Like power bricks and cords, there are many different wireless charging pads. The good news is that this handy guide will make your buying decision much less daunting, and dare I say, fun. Especially when you realize that wireless chargers come in all shapes and sizes, from pads to stands and even two-in-ones, or wireless chargers that are hidden in photo frames.
Qi Wireless is the standard that can make the process easier. This is technology that powers the wireless charging experience and has near universal adoption across iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Google Pixel. Unfortunately, devices like the Apple Watch and other smartwatches, likely use proprietary chargers.
And yes, Apple’s AirPower charging mat that can power an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods with a wireless charging case is still missing.
What to look for in a wireless charger
There’s a huge selection of chargers. In the time since Apple began to include wireless charging, accessory manufacturers have released a ton of them. It’s a competitive market, with Mophie, Belkin, Anker, Nomad, Nimble, Twelve South, Samsung and many others all wanting you to choose theirs.
Circular pads are the rage, but wireless chargers also come in stands, photo frames, two-in-ones and even combo docks. Materials range from plastic to leather and even metal. Luckily, none of these surfaces should heat up too much, thanks to the wireless charging coil technology. Manufacturers spend a chunk of time making sure performance is up to par, along with the user experience. You certainly don’t want a wireless charger that’s too hot to use.
Charging speed matters
Like a typical charging brick and cable, a wireless charger can only charge as fast as the amount of power it receives. Normal charging versus fast charging can make a significant difference, but you need to be precise when choosing your model. You’ll need to make sure the included power brick can deliver enough watts for fast charging.
For instance, Apple includes a 5-watt charger with every iPhone, which is pretty slow. On the other hand, Samsung includes a fast charging brick in the box with most smartphones. Both of these can likely charge your phone fully overnight, but there are ways for a faster, easier charge without the hassle of plugging in the cable. You’ll need to upgrade to an Apple 12-watt charger ($13.99; amazon.com) for an iPhone or a third-party solution, such as the Anker Elite Dual Port USB charger ($13.99; amazon.com) to deliver enough power for both iPhone or an Android device.
If you’re looking at a fast charging or 10-watt wireless charger, it likely will come with a brick that can power that fast speed. But sadly, not all wireless chargers include a brick. And while a brick might seem unnecessary for a wireless charger, it’s a critical piece of the equation to deliver enough power for fast charging.
Here are our top picks.
Anker 10-watt Wireless Charging Stand ($19.99; amazon.com)
This charging stand packs a punch and affordability at just $19.99, and offers speeds up to 10 watts. It’s a plastic stand that works with iPhones and any phones that meet the Qi wireless charging standard of at least 7.5 watts. You can place your phone either horizontally or vertically, and it works with most cases. The one downside is it doesn’t include a power brick.
Mophie Charge Stream Desk Stand ($69.95; amazon.com)
This made-for-iPhone stand has a sturdy metal base with a sliding charging pad. You can adjust the height, making it perfect for those with an XS or XS Max. A charging cable and power brick are included in the box. It can charge up to 10 watts out of the box.
Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad ($58; amazon.com)
This refreshed take on the original circular wireless charging pad has a sleeker design and faster charging. Belkin includes a 5-foot cable and a power brick that delivers up to 10 watts. Like the Anker, this can deliver a charge through most cases. Plus, Belkin offers it in black, white or pink!
Twelve South PowerPic ($79.83; amazon.com)
If you want to be super sly or have a more stylish way to prop your phone on a nightstand or table, the PowerPic from Twelve South might be perfect for you. It looks like a typical 5-by-7 photo frame, but it packs a 10-watt wireless charger behind the photo. You can swap the picture out and have it match your phone’s lock screen.
If you want a wireless charger that doubles as a portable battery pack, look no further than the Charge Stream PowerStation Wireless from Mophie. It packs a USB-A and a USB-C port with either a 6,040mAh or 10,000mAh battery. The cool factor is turned up to 10 with a Qi-enabled front side that lets you lay your phone down to charge it.
Nomad Wireless Charging Base Station Hub Edition ($99.95; amazon.com)
This sleek leather charging pad allows you to wirelessly power two devices, plus plug in two additional devices through USB-A and USB-C ports. It’s a full four-in-one, since it also has a dedicated power port on the back. Like the Nimble pad, Nomad uses recycled leather for an eco-friendly design. Whether you charge hardwired or wirelessly, all of these outputs meet the fast-charging standard.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.