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Much like an electric current, when it comes to charging your devices, there are positives and negatives.
A traditional, wall-charging USB unit will fill up your phone faster, and allow you full usage (with limited mobility) while it’s re-fueling, but can quickly become tedious if you’ll need to be plugging it in and out all day. Plus it contributes to the wear-and-tear on your phone’s port, and the cable itself, which eventually can fray and break open, exposing you to the wiring inside.
A wireless unit, however, frees you up from finding the right cables and chaining your phone to the charger, but lags a little with charging speed compared to one that’s plugged directly into a power source. Still, it’s endlessly satisfying to simply drop your device on the pad and have it immediately start charging, then scoop it back up whenever you need it.
So which is better? It really all depends on your lifestyle and how you use your device. For overnight charging, a wireless pad or stand will do just fine since you won’t really need to access it for hours. It’s also great for taking calls on a Bluetooth headset during the day, as your phone remains stationary on your desk. But a simple USB cable can still be a lifesaver though when you’re caught without an AC outlet and need to fill up your phone from a power bank or a friend’s device.
When searching for the best wireless chargers for iPhones, you’ll most likely come across a few that are “Qi-certified.” Qi (pronounced “chee”) comes from the Chinese word for “energy flow,” and is appropriately named in this case too. Qi-Certified means a device that’s enabled for close-range wireless power transfer using electromagnetic induction, a.k.a wireless charging. This technology in modern mobile devices is about a decade old, and comes as a standard feature in most smartphones nowadays, but dates all the way back to the late 1800s and was used to charge the first electric vehicles. Induction charging, in much higher amounts, is the same way that many of today’s electric vehicles are powered too. A typical “low power” inductive charge for a phone or tablet is under 100 watts, while a higher grade charging system for a vehicle would be somewhere around 1 kilowatt or more. Currently, a wireless charging pad usually caps out at 7.5 watts, but will most likely increase with each new generation of mobile and induction technology.
Jamming a USB cable into your phone and plugging it into a wall or device still gets the job done, but wireless is the wave of the future, and there’s some cool stuff in store — think an entire desk surface that functions as a charger, or charging spots discreetly built into a smart-home. Until then, these four options will keep your devices full, whether you go wired or without.
1. Anker PowerWave Wireless Charger
Anker has been cranking out phone accessories for nearly a decade now, and is a known player in the charging world.
Convenience is the real appeal here. It’s fun and fast to toss your phone onto one of these pads and have it start juicing up, and just as easy to remove it when you need it.
The Anker works for most iPhones, 8 and above, along with Airpods and some Android devices too. No need to remove your protective phone case either, as this pad powers through any case up to 5mm thick, as long as there aren’t credit cards, keys, magnetic or metal attachments in the way. A handy LED light also lets you know when it’s charging up, and instantly communicates any problems like obstruction or an incorrect cable.
The phone gets a little warm when left on top for extended periods, but that’s to be expected with this type of charging, and the unit comes equipped with temperature control and short-circuit protection to keep things safe.
2. Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Dock
If you’re a heavy Apple user, chances are you’ve got at least one Belkin product in the house somewhere. They specialize in making quality, third-party Apple-compatible products, and this organized command center is just another great example of what they’re capable of. The dock supports iPhones 8 to XR, as well as the Apple watch 1 through 5, and even a third device of your choice thanks to the five-watt USB port in back.
Phones fuel up at 7.5 watts (without needing to remove most cases), while the watch recharges on its designated five-watt spot, switching into night mode automatically to act as an instant nightstand clock.
The unit itself is sleek and well-packaged, and looks great on any desk or shelf, from office to home.
3. Mophie Apple Optimized Wireless Charge Pad
Mophie’s smooth, sleek and circular charger eliminates the need for any USB cable, and works instantly with AirPods and most newer iPhones.
The company collaborated with Apple to create this ultra-convenient charging option, complete with the latest Qi wireless tech to efficiently charge up your phone in any direction as long as it’s centered (and there are no metal, magnets or credit cards on the back).
The well-designed, and well-packaged, unit runs off AC power, and starts charging as soon as you toss your phone onto its rubberized coating, allowing you full use while it fuels up. A low-standby current reduces power consumption when you’re not using it, and over-charge protection guards against excessive heating – though the phone does still get a bit warm after a while. It also automatically calculates the amount of juice needed to charge your specific device, and works especially well with other Mophie cases.
The unit itself won’t take up much space on your nightstand, has a nice weight to it, and the non-stick, rubberized coating prevents your phone from slipping and sliding off.
4. RAVPower 30W 2-Port Fast Charger
For those who still want to stick with wires a while longer, RAV Power makes this compact and versatile wall charger.
There’s no shame in sticking with the old-school option of a USB plug to revive your device, and this is ready to handle more than a mobile wireless pad, including MacBooks and even a Nintendo Switch.
Dual ports (USB-A and USB-C) let you charge up two items at once, with a combined max output of 30 watts – way more power than setting it on a wireless pad and waiting. Plus you’ll get to still hold and use your device normally while it’s fueling, which is ergonomically difficult to do sometimes with induction charging.
At only 2.8oz, it’s perfectly pocket-sized, foldable, and a third smaller than some of the bulkier traditional chargers out there. This is a great travel charger too.