Modern life has many of us tethered to a phone charger, orbiting a three-foot radius stemming from the nearest outlet at all times. Many people these days even arrange their furniture to best accommodate charging their phone — or they just spring for a bed or sofa that has outlets built right in. It has become the ultimate priority, and the ultimate inconvenience. And for that reason, there are more and more capable, efficient wireless chargers available than ever before.
Before buying a wireless charger for yourself, make sure your phone is compatible with the technology to begin with. “Not all phones are compatible with wireless charging, so first and foremost you want to make sure your phone supports the feature before you shell out the cash for one [of these chargers] at the store,” says Emily Price, a tech reporter and author of the book Productivity Hacks. Further, consider that while many consumers think of “wireless” as being synonymous with “travel-friendly,” that may not actually be the case. A small, plug-in charging battery may still be your best bet if you’re looking for something to take with you on the move. “I never travel with my wireless charger,” Price says. “It’s too bulky for me to want to give it luggage real estate. I think for traveling it still makes more sense to just bring your charging cable.”
And while there were at first several competing forms of wireless charging technology, Qi is now the only name you need to know. It’s a standard for wireless transfer with inductive charging, and within the past two years it’s gone from one of several competitors in the field to the top dog. (“There were originally two different standards for wireless charging: Qi and Powermat,” Price says. “You may have seen Powermat at some Starbucks locations.”) With those caveats out of the way, here are the best wireless chargers.
The best wireless charger for speedy charging
“It’s speed and efficiency to start,” says Enzo Njoo, manager of hardware outreach at Indiegogo, in terms of his most valued feature. While he of course looks for a good price and durability among other capabilities, speed is the top priority.
How fast a charger charges relates directly to the wattage of power provided, and what your phone is capable of using. “Different wireless chargers are cable of different wattages of power,” Price says. “For instance, if you have an iPhone X, 8, or 8 Plus, or the Galaxy S9/S9+, your phone is capable of 10-watt wireless charging, so you’ll want to buy a wireless charger capable of providing that amount of power. You can still use other chargers that only provide 7.5 watts or 5 watts, but your device will charge much slower than it will with a 10-watt charger.”
With that in mind, our experts recommend this Yootech model, which offers a full 10 watts, keeping up with the newest phone models, while also offering compatibility with 7.5-watt and 5-watt phones. It features Qi-certified technology, can charge through cases, and has a slim pad that can comfortably and unobtrusively fit on a desk or nightstand.
The best wireless chargers for stand-up display
Another key consideration will be whether you’d like your phone to be resting flat atop a pad or mat, or if you’d like it propped up with a display capability. The latter makes sense for those who want to be able to easily view notifications or alerts from bed or at a work desk, while a lie-flat style may be best for those who want to put their phone down and walk away for a time.
“I’m particularly fond of my Wireless Charger Stand from Samsung,” Price says. “I like it specifically because it props my phone up while it’s charging so I can see the display. For me, it’s the perfect thing to have on my nightstand. That one can also be folded down into a traditional pad design if you’d rather not have the phone propped up.”
Njoo, meanwhile, sees lots of new and developing tech products cross his desk, and he’s hoping his future desk may have built-in wireless charging capabilities for a sleek, unobtrusive, and functional design. “I’d like to see a charger that’s well-designed and is hidden or built into existing furniture.” he says. There are, however, already mounts that can be purchased and built into existing furniture or areas of your home for those with a do-it-yourself willingness.
In fact, Ikea has already been at work on this, and rolled out a suite of wireless charging products for the home. Several of them, like this inductive charging lamp, integrate the electronics right into furniture designs. This little node can be installed directly into whatever furniture you choose, so you can simply set your phone atop it.
The best wireless charger for built-in safety
Having your phone damaged or destroyed by a product that was supposed to provide convenience is a worst-case scenario. Look not only into product reviews, but also into overall safety standards and procedures. “I would look into the safety test standards undertaken by the company for any charging unit I purchase,” Njoo says. For instance, this Nanami unit has been designed to avoid overheating and energy waste.
On that note, when you’re charging up multiple devices, and perhaps using a single charging station for the whole family, keep in mind that those devices will all start to run very hot next to each other. “Some chargers also have built-in fans, which is something to consider if you plan on using the device for long periods of time, […] say for your entire family,” Price says. “Keeping it cool will allow it to deliver peak charging speeds for longer.”
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