The best wireless charger to buy right nowAugust 24, 2018
Wireless charging pads aren’t a new invention, but with Apple finally jumping on the bandwagon with the iPhone X and iPhone 8, the entire category has suddenly become much more important. While your phone will work just fine with the wired charger it comes with, wireless charging pads are great for a desk or nightstand, and makes charging your phone as simple as putting it down on a surface. It’s a small change, but one that makes keeping your phone juiced up an unconscious part of your life.
We went through and tested over a dozen wireless Qi charging pads, ranging from well known charging companies like Anker and Mophie to relative newcomers, like RavPower. Even Samsung makes its own branded wireless chargers. The good news is that pretty much any Qi charger, new or old, cheap or expensive, will more or less do the job when it comes to charging your phone. But not all chargers are made equal, and things like form factor, materials, size, and of course, how fast it can actually charge your phone are all things to consider, especially for a product that’s looking to take up permanent residence on your desk or nightstand.
You may may have heard that there are multiple wireless charging standards, and that’s technically true — Qi in theory has competitors like PMA, the other major charging standard out there. But with Apple exclusively supporting Qi with the iPhone X and 8, other standards are essentially dead in the water (we’re already seeing former PMA holdouts like Powermat add Qi support), and for all intents and purposes, Qi is the future of wireless charging.
This article will be continually updated as new devices are released — there’s a lot to look forward to, especially with Apple set to release fast charging for the iPhone X and 8, along with its own AirPower wireless charger — so be sure to check back if you’re not buying a wireless charger right now.
Update, August 24th 2018: It’s been almost a year since we published this guide, and after testing several new chargers, the RavPower Fast Charge Wireless Charging Pad is the best option out there. The intervening time has also seen the price drop from $49.99 down to $29.99 — making it a better deal than ever.
RavPower is one of the more popular charging accessory companies around, competing with the likes of Anker on products like battery packs, wall chargers, and cables. The company proved to be adept at making wireless chargers, with the Fast Charge Wireless Charging Pad narrowly beating out the rest as the best wireless charger in our tests.
Its price tag may sound like a lot for a charger, and you’d be correct — even RavPower sells similar chargers that perform at a similar level for less. But unlike most of the other, cheaper options out there, the Fast Charge also includes a 24W power brick, which generally tends to cost an additionally $15 to on its own. Given that’s something you’ll need to pick up anyway if you’re planning on taking advantage of the fastest charging speeds, the fact that it’s included is a definite plus.
In terms of performance, the RavPower Fast Charge outputs up to 10W of power — enough for regular speed charging (typically 5W), Samsung’s 9W quick-charging, and the Apple’s own 7.5W iteration that will be coming to the iPhone 8 and X in a future update. And while quick charging doesn’t offer quite as significant of an advantage as it does with wired charging, it’ll still cut down on your charging time, assuming your device supports it. And given the universal nature of wireless charging tech, making sure you’re future proofed is just common sense.
The RavPower Fast Charge is also the nicest charger in terms of design, with a solid metal case that won’t slide around your desk or nightstand, while also just looking like a more premium product than some of the cheaper, plastic-y options out there. The soft rubber top gripped even the slippery iPhone 8 and S8 Plus used in testing without sliding around or scratching the backs of the devices. And mercifully, the RavPower limits itself to just a single LED at the front of the device, instead of the tackier giant glowing ring that you can find on other chargers.
There are a few downsides: aside from the price — which is slightly higher than other chargers that support similar rates — the Fast Charge is a single coil charger, which means that you’ll need to be at least somewhat accurate when placing your phone, especially with larger devices like the iPhone 8 Plus or Note 8, to make sure it’s charging. That said, the RavPower is more forgiving than some of the other chargers we tested when it comes to placement. The RavPower is also a flat charger, so if you want a stand that allows for a propped up or angled placement, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Samsung may not be the first name that comes to mind when it comes to wireless charging, but the company has been putting out wireless chargers for a while now to go along with its Galaxy smartphones (although since Qi is an industry standard, they’ll work just fine with an iPhone).
The Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Pad supports Samsung’s 9W fast charging, which means that it should work with the iPhone whenever that software update rolls out too for the fastest speeds. And like the RavPower, it also comes with a high-powered USB wall plug to actually power the device in the box, although Samsung cautions against using any other USB charger than the one included for the best speed.
The Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charger was just as fast as the RavPower when it came to actually charging phones, and usually sells for the same $40 price point that the RavPower does. It’s also a single coil charger, with an active charging area around the same size as that on the RavPower. But the Samsung charger is both larger and taller than the RavPower, is made out of plastic instead of the RavPower’s metal case, and features an honest to god fan inside.
None of these are deal breakers on their own, but compared with the RavPower — which has none of these flaws — and considering that a lot of these wireless chargers are going to be replacing cords on nightstands, a bright glowing light and whirling fan which is just annoying enough when it spins up to knock the Samsung down to second place.
Still, if the RavPower is sold out or you don’t mind the downsides, Samsung’s charger is an excellent option.
The advantage to Qi wireless chargers is that ultimately, they all pretty much do the same thing as roughly the same speed, so assuming you’ve got something that’s specced to support the level of fast charging your device uses and a wall plug that can power it, it’s hard to go wrong.
With things like aesthetics, form factor, and personal preference playing a big part in this, there are plenty of good options whether you decide to pay more, pay less, or just get something in a different style than our primary picks.
Update, August 24th 2018: Updated guide to include the iON Wireless Plus Fast Charging Pad, RavPower 10,400 Wireless Portable Charger, Nomad Wireless Hub, HyperDrive 7.5W Wireless Charger USB-C Hub, Samsung Wireless Charger Duo, and Logitech Powered Wireless Charging Stand.
Correction: The Belkin Boost Up tested here is the company’s generic 15W model, not the 7.5W model designed for the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. Additionally, Mophie’s charger is a proprietary connector, but it is removable, not integrated into the device, as this article originally claimed.