Wireless chargers are gaining traction, becoming ever more popular as their style and ease of use frees workplaces of wire clutter. Wireless charging devices are flat little slabs that can sit on a desk, a table in your waiting room or occupy a space in a lunch/break room. Just plunk down your phone – and your Apple Watch – and let them charge without having to mess with mini USB or Lightning cords.
Some wireless chargers stand your smartphone in an upright position and integrate with other furniture items, like desks or lamps. Today, most wireless chargers adhere to the Qi (chee) standard.
Wireless chargers work via electromagnetic induction. An electromagnetic field transfers energy from the charger to your phone. But wireless charging still requires a wire: just not to your phone. Instead, the charger unit plugs into an outlet, just like any other appliance.
Wireless charging is super convenient, though not exactly energy efficient because of the constant energy drain of an always-on device and the fact that a direct wire connection is always more efficient. The advantage is that a wireless charger lets you charge your phone all day long, hassle-free.
Just leave your phone on the charging mat all day with complete access to your phone for calls. You never have to plug the phone back in. Wireless chargers let you attach wired ear buds through the Lightning connector, and most stand models let you read or chat via FaceTime while your device charges. You can even share a charger with a different brand phone.
What to look for
When you're ready to get started with wireless charging, here are some considerations.
Speed: The more power a charger delivers, the faster your battery reaches a full charge. The Qi standard currently supports up to 15 watts. Some phones, like the iPhone, max out at 7.5 watts. Regardless of your phone's capacity today, buying the highest-powered charger available can future proof your charger, and keep up with iPhone and Android advances in battery technology.
Connector: Chargers often ship with a power adapter, but not always. If you must buy a separate adapter, make sure it provides enough power to charge your phone at the full speed your phone supports. Some chargers do not offer fast charging at the maximum 7.5W – they charge only at a slower 5W. Some offer faster charging with an adapter that incorporates Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology, while others work with a variety of high-wattage USB adapters. Also, make sure the length of the wire that ships with your charger is adequate for its positioning on your desk or wherever you plan to use it.
Design: Chargers come in a vast variety of shapes, styles and finishes, so there are plenty of choices for what will suit your office. Most chargers have a minimalist, unobtrusive look; others try to blend in with office furnishings while others are positively chic and add a decorative touch to your environment.
Determine whether the charger has a somewhat grippy top to hold your phone securely. Some wireless chargers have fans and LED indicator lights, so be aware of how possible noise and lights will affect you.
Price: Charger prices vary widely, and most are not expensive, so first find the model that incorporates all your needs. It's likely that you will find a charger that fits all your specifications at a price you can afford.
Ease of use: What could be simpler than setting your phone down on a flat surface? Many chargers are designed for your phone to be in a certain place on the charger so that electromagnetic fields line up for the most efficient charging.
With some chargers you have to position your phone properly on the pad to ensure the fastest charge, or any charge at all. Others may have wider latitude. Your charger is designed to sit on a desk, but if you're a traveler, you might want to consider its size and weight.
Certification: While this is not absolutely necessary, another way to judge the quality and safety of the product is to check whether your charger is certified by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). Some 220-device manufacturing companies (including Apple, Verizon, Google and Samsung) have endorsed the Qi specification and have certified certain wireless charger models. Certification ensures that your charger has been tested and adheres to the standard. While most smartphones today use the Qi standard, older phones are incompatible with wireless chargers.
Here are some of the best Qi-enabled smartphones currently available.
Samsung Wireless Charger Fast Charge Pad (2018)
The Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charger Pad is compatible with most recent iOS and Android smartphones. It uses Samsung's Fast Charge technology, delivering a faster charge to devices via its included Fast Charge wall charger.
It works with all Qi compatible smartphones, including the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+, as well as later models of the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series. It also supports Apple iPhone 8 and X.
A multi-colored LED halo indicates charging status. You can use your device while it's charging and answer calls without unplugging. The charger is backward-compatible with any Qi-enabled device so you can charge those devices wirelessly at standard speeds. It's available in black or white.
Choetech Wireless Charger
The Choetech charger offers fast wireless charging up to 10W for the newest models of both Samsung and Apple smartphones, supporting the Galaxy, Note and Edge models as far back as the S6 generation, and the iPhone's 7.5W fast charging limit for the newest generation XS, X and XR models down to the iPhone 8.
A QC 2.0/3.0 adapter is needed for fast charge, and the unit charges at the 5W standard wireless charge for all other Qi-enabled Phones. The Choetech's multi protection system guards against overcharging, overvoltage, overtemperature and overcurrent.
Its compact, case-friendly design supports phone cases within 0.2 inches or 5mm with 0.16 (4mm) inches as the optimal charging distance. The pad has an anti-slip rubber to keep the phone in the proper place, complete with indicators alerting you to its status. It does not ship with an adapter.
Mophie Wireless Charge PadCredit: Mophie
With its minimal, low-profile design, the Mophie charging pad includes the latest Qi technology and delivers up to 7.5W fast charging speeds to your iPhone. It features a 360-degree, rubberized, grippy TPU coating that keeps your iPhone properly aligned while charging. The die-cast metal inner structure is electroplated to create a stable, sturdy platform. The Mophie wireless charger is optimized to work with iPhones, but it will also wirelessly charge any Mophie case as well as other Qi-compatible wireless devices.
WoodPuck Bamboo Edition Fast Wireless ChargerCredit: WoodPuck
With its stylish bamboo exterior, the WoodPuck fast charger complements your office decor just like any other accessory. WoodPuck conceals its micro-USB socket and plug for a streamlined appearance.
A poor sync detection feature prevents the buildup of excess heat while an audible signal alerts users to bad phone placement. The WoodPuck supports 7.5W charging for iPhone XS, XS Max, XR, X, 8, 8 Plus, and 10W charging for Samsung's Galaxy S9, S9 Plus, S8, S8+, Note 9, 8, 5 as well as other Qi-enabled Phones. It comes in light cappuccino and dark espresso. You must supply your own AC adapter.
Native Union Drop Wireless Charger
Credit: Native Union
The Native Union is a handsome unit that offers high-speed charging up to 10W and features a thermal protection sensor and foreign object detection. Its non-slip silicone top secures your device and prevents overheating.
It charges with cases of up to 3mm or 0.11 inches. It includes a USB-C to USB-A 6.5-foot braided charging cable with a genuine leather strap, but you're on your own in purchasing a wall adapter. It's compatible with a broad range of devices from iPhone 8 and up, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and later, plus LG, Sony Xperia, Nokia and other Android phones.
Nero Marquina Marble Wireless Charging Pad
With the Nero marble wireless charging pad, you're on your way to having the most elegant office in town. It may be a little pricey, but this is not just a charging pad, it's a work of art in jet black, white or green stone with contrasting vein patterns set in an alloy casing.
It fits in the palm of your hand. While it has four rubber feet on the bottom to prevent it from sliding around, the marble surface is slick. The charger also offers overvoltage, undervoltage and short-circuit protection. The LED indicator notifies users when the device is charging.
It can fast charge a Samsung Galaxy phone, but you will need to pair it with a fast wall charger, as you get a Micro USB to USB-A cable in the box. It also works with the iPhone 8, iPhone X, Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 edge, S6, Note 5, Google Nexus 6, and any Qi-compatible device.
Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad
The Belkin Boost Up 7.5W Wireless Charging Pad is made for fast charging, and includes an AC adapter and 5-foot cord in the box. A crisp, white disc with a grippy top, Boost Up can charge with lightweight smartphone cases of up to 3mm.
While the BoostUp is optimized for the latest generations of Apple iPhone when running iOS 11.1.2 and later, it also works with Samsung, LG, Sony and other brands. An LED indicator signals when your phone is charging, but you must properly center the phone for the charge to work. It's available in black, pink or white and comes in 10W and 10W Stand models.
Samsung Qi-Certified Fast Charge Wireless Charging Convertible Stand/Pad
This Samsung wireless charger lets you switch form factors from flat pad to stand. You can use the device as a stand to read notifications or take calls without interrupting your phone from charging.
You can also get 9W fast charging for certain smartphones with multiple charging coils for easy landscape or portrait device orientation with a built-in fan to cool the unit during fast charging.
It supports wireless charging on Qi compatible smartphones, including the Samsung Galaxy S8, Samsung Galaxy Note8, Apple iPhone 8, Apple iPhone 8 Plus and Apple iPhone X. It comes in tan or black.
Anker Fast Wireless ChargerCredit: Anker
Anker's high-efficiency chipset provides 10W high-speed charging for Samsung Galaxy while iPhones get a boosted 5W charge. Charge in either landscape orientation while watching videos or portrait mode for messaging and face recognition.
The charger transmits power directly through protective smartphone cases. You get the PowerWave Stand and a 3-foot micro-USB cable.
For Samsung models to get 10W power, use a QC 2.0/3.0 adapter. Using a 5V/2A Adapter, you can charge iPhone, LG and Pixel 3 phones. The case-friendly design accommodates up to 5mm. You must purchase all adapters separately.
IKEA Riggad LED Work Lamp with Wireless Charging
Ikea came up with the smart idea to combine two products into one: a desk lamp that incorporates a wireless charger. With this lamp, you can charge two devices at the same time because there is also a USB port built into the lamp.
The lamp has that cool Ikea look with an LED light that consumes up to 85 percent less energy and lasts 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs, according to Ikea.
You can easily direct the light where you want it – the lamp arm and head are adjustable. The charger mechanism is compatible with all Qi-certified smartphones and devices, including the iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy S6 or newer models.
Completely discharged batteries may take a few minutes to start charging, and the battery symbol appears on your phone when the charging begins. Devices may get warm during charging but will gradually cool down after a full charge.