When Apple and Samsung say their phones have “wireless charging,” they don’t mean through-the-air charging, all day long, from some wall transmitter. No, they’re talking about little pads that recharge phones on contact. (They’re called Qi chargers, pronounced “chee.”) I bought one of the black plastic discs to try out, but there were massive problems with it. First, the phone didn’t charge unless it was on the pad’s sweet spot. One little bump of the table, and the phone slipped off that spot or off the pad entirely. Worst of all, the phone lies flat when it’s charging. So when you’re lying flat too, you can’t see the screen.
My attitude toward wireless chargers changed when I found the Anker PowerWave charger. It solves the flat-on-the-back problem with a screamingly obvious design change: It’s a stand. It props your phone up so you can see it from your pillow or across the room. Better yet, the charging happens whether you’ve put the phone down vertically or horizontally, while watching a movie, for instance.
There’s no sweet spot to find. You don’t even have to take off the phone’s case; the magnetic charge can pass through cases up to 5mm (0.2 inches) thick, as long as it’s not metal. A blue LED lights up to let you know it’s charging.
I have only one big blinking warning for you: This charger doesn’t come with the power brick that goes into a wall outlet. You have to provide that yourself.
If you use the little wall plug that came with your phone, you get 5-watt charging speed. Depending on the phone, that’s zero to 50 percent in about 1.5 hours, zero to full in three hours. And if that’s fine with you, save a few bucks and get last year’s Anker stand model, which itself tops out at 5-watt charging for iPhones.
But if speed is of the essence, get the newer stand and spend $14 more to get a Quick Charge 3.0 power brick like this one. It unleashes the stand’s quick-charging feature: 7.5 watts for iPhone (model 8 and later), and 10 watts for Samsung Galaxies (S6 Edge+ and later). That setup charges a typical phone from dead to 50 percent in about 30 minutes and to full in two hours. (Or if you have an iPad, you can use its 12-watt charger to get the faster speeds.)
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