Best Charging Stations

Updated May 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

37 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
412 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best charging stations

Last Updated May 2019

One of the things that no one likes to talk about in the tech industry is that having a lot of gadgets usually means having a lot of cables. And different-size plugs. And adapters. And messes to untangle. Even if you stick with the same brand across all of your tech gear, you’re still likely to end up with a spaghettilike mess of wires just to keep everything charged.

Thankfully, there’s a gadget that solves this problem: a charging station. Charging stations are basically power strips but with USB ports for anything that gets its charge from a USB cable. They’re usually built with phones, tablets, and, in some cases, smart watches in mind.

Whether you’re looking to organize your nightstand, workspace, or shared family space, a charging station makes sure every device can power up at the same time. Finding the right charging station is all about being able to tell the key specs from the marketing hype, so let’s dig in to everything you need to know about finding the right one for you. If you’re ready to buy, look at our top recommendations.

There are two competing wireless charging standards: Qi and Powermat. Both offer similar experiences: with a properly enabled device, all you need is a pad for charging. Make sure your charging station is compatible with the same type of wireless charging as your phone.

Key considerations

Charging stations come in a wide variety of form factors and designs, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the available options. Before you start exploring specific models, consider the following three questions. They’ll help you focus your search by eliminating all of the charging stations that don’t suit your needs.

How many devices do you need to charge simultaneously?

This is by far the most important question to answer first because your answer will have a big impact on how much you can expect to pay. For example, the most affordable charging stations only charge one device at a time, which is fine for many people, but if you need to charge several devices at once, you’ll need to spend more money to get one that supports that.

What connectivity standards do you use to charge devices now?

USB standards have evolved and, unfortunately, we’re currently in between standards. If you have both newer and older devices, or a mix of Apple and non-Apple devices, chances are you use more than one charging standard. Before you start shopping, make a list of the devices you’ll be charging and note which ones require a charging station with USB 3.0 ports, which will require USB 3.1 (aka USB-C) ports, and which support wireless charging. Consider the cross section of devices you own, and make sure that the charging station you buy works with all of them.

Where will you put your charging station?

Consider where your charging station will be located and how much room you have for it. If you’ll be using it on your desk or workspace, consider charging stations that allow you to see your devices’ screens, so you can use them to check the time or even just monitor charging progress. If you’ll be placing your charging station somewhere out of sight, you can look at the more utilitarian models and save a few bucks while you’re at it.

Elegant functionality for Apple devices

Finally, a charging station that supports every Apple mobile device! The OLEBR charging stand is ideal for Apple enthusiasts: it works with iPhones, Apple Watches, and even AirPods. On top of that, it’s also gorgeous enough to be a conversation piece on your desk. If you’ve been looking for a simple, elegant solution for charging all things Apple-related, this is the one (just be forewarned that you’ll need to bring your own device cables).

Charging station features

Once you’ve got a general sense of what you need out of a charging station, you can start to compare the relevant models. Many charging stations offer similar features and conveniences, but there are three features in particular we think are worth keeping at the top of your list.

Qi wireless charging: Wireless charging is the future, and it’s much more convenient than charging with a cable. You just set your devices on a Qi wireless charging pad, and they instantly begin charging. Not all devices support Qi wireless charging, so you’ll need to check to see if any of yours fit the bill, but if they do, you’ll want a charging station that’s Qi-enabled so you can ditch your charging cables altogether.

Support for multiple device types: Some charging stations only support the older USB 3.0 standard, while others support newer devices that rely on the newer USB 3.1 (USB-C) standard. If you have devices that require different cables to charge, get a charging station that supports multiple standards and can work with every device you own.

Premium materials: Most charging stations are made of plastic and feature uninspiring designs, but if you’re willing to pay a little more, you can find ones made from premium materials like aluminum or bamboo. An elegant charging station can add a lot of class to any desktop, so keep your eyes peeled for charging stations that match your design sensibilities.

DID YOU KNOW?

Cables for Apple devices can be pricey, so if you have a lot of iOS devices to charge, factor that into your decision. Some charging stations are designed to keep the cables in place, which means giving one of your cables a semi-permanent home or buying new ones, and the cost can add up.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Qi wireless standard is named after the Chinese term for “vital life force” and pronounced “chee.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Some charging stations label the USB ports with device names like “tablet” or “phone.” In these cases, that usually means that the different USB ports provide different power amounts so they can offer more power to devices that need it (like tablets).

Charging station prices

Basic

If you’re looking for a single-device charging station or a basic power brick with a bunch of USB 3.0 ports, you can easily find one for between $15 and $40. There are definite deals in this price range, but if you want to be certain to find a good value, scour user reviews for information about typical charging times – some models charge much more quickly than others.

Premium

If you’re willing to spend a little more, in the $40 to $60 range, you’ll find charging stations that are fancier and made of better materials. Most of the premium charging station market is aimed at people who own multiple Apple devices, so if you’ve got an iPhone, an Apple Watch, AirPods, and an iPad that all need charging, you’ll find a lot to like in this price range.

All-in-one charging

This charging station is perfect for charging multiple devices at once, but what we really love about it is that it supports both wired and wireless charging. It’s also got some really thoughtful innovations: the silicone gel covering makes sure your devices don’t get scratched or damaged, and the station even includes charging cables.

Tips

  • Clean out the connection ports periodically with compressed air. The USB ports on your smartphone or tablet can get dusty and dirty over time, and that can lead to connectivity issues that can prevent your devices from charging properly. Make sure your wired connections are as stable as possible, and use a can of compressed air on each device’s port to get rid of any excess dust or dirt.

  • Avoid using USB adapters with charging stations. It’s easy to find USB adapters for older cables to work with newer standards, or vice versa. For example, if you have a phone that only supports USB-C and a laptop that only has USB 3.0 ports, you could in theory use a USB-C-to-USB 3.0 adapter to connect them together. Adapters like this are plentiful, inexpensive, and great for transferring data, but they can have spotty performance when it comes to charging. A poorly made adapter could even result in the risk of fire, so, in general, it’s best to plan on not using any type of USB adapter with a charging station.

  • Avoid USB cables from no-name brands. USB cables are cheap, and they’re everywhere, but they’re not all the same. USB cables from no-name brands often don’t work as well as their mainstream counterparts – they can make charging take longer or result in devices getting hotter than they should while charging. When it comes to the cables you use for charging your devices, stick with big brands you trust.

  • Check the voltage of each port. If you buy a charging station with labeled ports (such as “tablet” or “phone”), look in the manual to see how many volts each port supports and then compare that with the devices you have and how much power they require to charge over USB. Alternatively, you can also treat all of them as generic USB ports to power all of your devices. Just be forewarned that you may get mixed results in terms of charging speeds.

Other products we considered

We also loved the six-port RAVPower Quick Charger – it can charge six different devices at once, which is more than enough for most users, and it’s even got a Quick Charge port, which can deliver power faster to devices that support it. If you just need a brick that will power a ton of devices at once and will adapt to charge each one as fast as possible, this is the one to get. Similarly, the TESSAN Surge Protector is also a power strip tower, so you can plug in standard plugs as well as USB devices. It’s perfect for when you need to charge your little devices and your big devices at the same time, and has plenty of both kinds of plugs, so you’ll never really run out.

If you travel a lot, consider how you’ll transport your charging station. Some are small enough to fit easily in a carry on, but others with longer cords or bigger form factors may be difficult to travel with.

FAQ

Q. Can I charge a smart watch with a charging station?

A. Yes. When you buy a smart watch, it comes with a USB cable you use to connect it to a power source when it needs to recharge. If you’ve got a smart watch, you can definitely use a charging station to keep it powered up, just make sure to get one with the right kind of USB port, and expect to bring your own cable.

Q. What’s the difference between charging stations and USB hubs?

A. Charging stations are dedicated to one task: charging the devices connected to it. They’re ideal for keeping multiple devices charged, but they don’t transfer any data, and they don’t connect devices to one another. In contrast, USB hubs are typically used for connecting multiple devices for data and power connectivity purposes. So, for example, many users have USB hubs connected to their laptops so they can transfer data from multiple devices like thumb drives. Where things get tricky is that some USB hubs also provide power through the USB ports, but not all of them do. The bottom line is, if you’re looking to centralize how you charge your tech, a charging station is the best option. If you want to connect multiple devices to a computer for the purposes of transferring data, get a USB hub.

Q. How long does it take to charge a smartphone using a charging station?

A. It depends. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few models, search the web for video reviews from actual users. These will tell you what real-world experiences are like. In general, it takes the average smartphone anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to completely charge, depending on the model.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jaime
    Jaime
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Sara
    Sara
    Writer

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