Charging up your smartphone is a daily chore. Smartphone batteries simply don’t last very long. So begins the charger dance, as we try to locate a charging cable, power adapter, and wall outlet that’s available.
Fumbling to plug in can be tricky, especially if it’s dark and you’re trying not to wake a sleeping partner. There must be a better way, right? And there is — the wireless charger. The best wireless chargers allow you to place your smartphone down and have it charge up, without having to touch a cable.
The early days of wireless charging were plagued by competing standards, slow charging speeds, and the need to be ever so precise with your placement to hit the charging sweet spot. In 2020, wireless chargers have come a long way. Unified under the Qi wireless charging standard with multiple coil designs and much faster speeds, you can juice up your iPhone or Android phone easily with a good wireless charger.
As an early adopter and tech reporter with more than a decade of experience, I’ve tested around 40 different wireless chargers over the years, so I’m well placed to recommend the best picks to serve different needs. Before we dig into the details that make the entries in our guide the best wireless chargers, let’s look at some of the questions you should ask to help you choose the right charger for your needs.
How to choose a wireless charger
The wireless charger landscape has evolved in the last few years, with new features, faster charging speeds, and a range of different shapes and styles. To make sure your chosen charger is going to meet your expectations, it’s important to pose a few questions before you shop.
What device or devices do you want to charge?
Make sure that your smartphone — or other device — supports Qi wireless charging. Every entry on our list is a Qi wireless charger. Many Android phone manufacturers, like Samsung, have included wireless charging support in their flagship phones for years now. Apple introduced wireless charging support with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and iPhone X, and every iPhone since then has supported it.
Don’t assume your phone supports it, though, take the time to check. A few manufacturers still haven’t adopted wireless charging, and it’s less common in mid-range and budget devices.
What is the top speed your device can charge at?
At first, wireless chargers were capped at 5W, but you can get 10W or even 15W chargers now. However, the speed you can wirelessly charge your phone at is set by the manufacturer. At the time of writing, for example, the iPhone 11 Pro tops out at 7.5W, Google’s Pixel 4 can charge at 11W, and Samsung’s Galaxy S20 can charge at up to 15W.
Do you need a charging cable and adapter?
Many wireless chargers are sold without a wall adapter, though they generally include a cable. It’s important to make sure that you have the right cable and adapter to enable the top charging speed. If you use a 5W adapter with a 10W charging pad, for example, you’re only going to get 5W charging.
Where are you going to use it?
The nightstand will be the ideal location for some, but you may prefer to have a wireless charger on your desk at work, on the kitchen counter at home, or perhaps all three. Different kinds of chargers will work better in different locations. For example, if it’s for the nightstand, you probably don’t want a wireless charger with a bright flashing light.