A wireless charger allows you to charge any compatible device without the need to fumble through a cluttered drawer looking for the right cable. You simply place the device on the pad, and it charges.
The best wireless chargers will power up your devices at an acceptable speed and add convenience to your life, not frustration. The Apple MagSafe Charger, for instance, is compatible with a wide variety of Apple iPhones and AirPods and has built-in magnets that align the charger with iPhone 12 models, making it effortless to find that sweet spot where the charging occurs.
While it might be frightening to think that a wireless charger shoots electricity through the air, the process is nothing like a spark or lightning. The typical wireless phone charger has a coil that uses electricity to create a very small magnetic field. The device being charged also has a coil, but that coil takes the magnetic energy and turns it back into electricity, which then charges the device. It is somewhat similar in concept to the way a solar battery harnesses electromagnetic radiation from the sun and turns it into electricity.
A wireless charger can only power up a device that has been specifically designed to receive a wireless charge. Luckily, there is a universal standard for wireless charging. It’s called Qi, pronounced “chee.” Qi-certified devices will feature the Qi logo either on the device or the packaging. Devices that are Qi-certified can’t be charged wirelessly.
The magnetic field that charges a device wirelessly has a very small range. In most cases, it is only a few millimeters’ distance. This means the many cases that protect smartphones are too thick to allow for wireless charging. Be sure to read the specs on the wireless charger that you are considering to determine if it can charge through a phone case.
In general, the higher the number of watts a wireless charger has, the faster it will charge. However, each device also has a maximum charging rate that can’t be exceeded. For example, if a phone doesn’t support charging faster than five watts, it doesn’t matter how speedy a wireless charger is, the phone will only charge at five watts.
Unfortunately, many wireless chargers have a short cord. While this may be desirable in some instances, such as for those hoping to charge a phone on a nightstand or dresser while sleeping, a 3-foot cord probably won’t be long enough for most uses.
Most wireless chargers allow users to place the device on a horizontal pad. However, to be able to easily see any notifications that come in while your phone is charging, consider a wireless charging stand that holds your phone in a somewhat upright position.
If you have more than one device that you regularly charge, weigh the price difference between getting two separate wireless chargers and one multiple-device wireless charger. In many instances, a multiple-device charger carries a premium for convenience, not power, and might not be the best value.
The average user can find a satisfactory wireless charger in the range of $10 to $40. For charging a watch or to be able to charge multiple items at once, products can cost up to $150 or more. If you are considering a high-end wireless charger, do your research to make sure it really has something exceptional to offer, or you’re better off staying in a more affordable price range.
A. Besides the convenience of just placing your phone on the charger, wireless charging potentially cuts down on the number of cords you need handy, as the charger can work multiple devices that might each need a different cable. Also, a wireless charger can extend the life of your device if the charging port ever gets damaged.
A. While it’s possible to find a wireless model that outperforms a wired model, it would involve using a wireless charger that had better specs than a wired charger — sort of stacking the deck. Otherwise, all things equal, wired charging is faster.
A. Sometimes, but not always. Since there are different ways to connect to a power source — a wall outlet, a USB-A port, a USB-C port, a Lightning port — it’s important to make sure the wireless charger has the cord you need. If not, you will need to purchase that cord separately.
What you need to know: If you are a user of Apple products, this premium wireless charger is your best option.
What you’ll love: The magnet in this charger allows you to easily align it with the newest iPhones. It is compatible with Qi charging, so it can be used to charge AirPods that have a wireless charging case and iPhone 8 or later models.
What you should consider: The biggest complaints with this otherwise-superior charger are that the cord is too short and that the 20-watt USB-C power adapter is sold separately.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
What you need to know: Anker is a trusted name in electronics that offers quality products at an affordable price.
What you’ll love: This customer-favorite wireless charger is compatible with a wide range of phones and wireless earbuds. It can charge through most cases up to 5 millimeters thick, and it comes with an 18-month warranty.
What you should consider: As with most other wireless chargers, care must be taken when placing your phone on it because it will not charge if not properly aligned.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
What you need to know: A multipurpose device, this is a wireless charger that also functions as a Bluetooth speaker.
What you’ll love: It allows you to charge your smartphone while listening to music, streaming videos or on a video call. It offers charging speeds of up to 10 watts for Qi-enabled devices, and the one-touch pairing makes connecting to Bluetooth almost effortless.
What you should consider: The peak volume level on the speaker is not as loud as many would have hoped.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.