Wireless chargers are a new-ish trend, at least for iPhones and other Apple devices. The idea is tempting and futuristic: Just plop your gadget down on a little pad and it’ll charge up, no need to mess with cables at all. Of course, there is, in fact, a cable—it’s just going from an outlet to the charging pad, rather than to your phone. And generally, you can’t use your phone while it’s charging wirelessly.
But for many of us, that doesn’t really matter. Wireless charging pads are a perfect fit for the bedside table, so you can just toss your phone there at night and wake up to a charged device. And, thankfully, the technology has improved to the point where they’re now pretty quick at charging, and totally affordable to boot. Here’s how to pick the best option for you.
- AC Adapter. Wireless charging is a fun new way to charge your phone, though it isn’t exactly wireless. Instead, you have a little pad or stand, which plugs into a wall outlet, and you can just plop your phone (or watch, or tablet, sometimes) onto the pad or stand to charge it. Many wireless chargers, though, don’t come with an AC adapter, so make sure you either have an extra high-powered one, or grab one alongside the charger.
- Standards for Charging. There are two main standards for wireless charging: Qi, which is a general standard used by everyone, and MagSafe, which is Apple-specific. If your phone (or earbuds, or whatever) supports wireless charging, a Qi charging pad will work—even for iPhones and AirPods. MagSafe uses magnets to more precisely align the iPhone 12 line of phones on the charging pad; it’s often more expensive, but it can charge those gadgets faster than Qi can.
- Energy Use. While it’s pretty cool to plop your phone down without plugging it in and get power, there are drawbacks. Wireless chargers, especially the Qi ones, use around 47 percent more power than regular wired chargers, so if you’re concerned about energy use, these are much less efficient than an old-fashioned cable. You also can’t really use a phone while it’s on a wireless charger; it pretty much has to stay put.
Our Picks for the Best Wireless Phone Charger on Amazon
Best Overall: Anker Wireless Chargers Bundle
Works with Everything
This item adjusts its output to match whichever gadget you use with it. Anker
Runner Up: Seneo 3-in-1 Wireless Charger
Low Temperature, High Efficiency
This larger option also supports earbuds, like those from Apple and Samsung. iSeneo
Best for Pixel Users: Google Pixel Stand Fast Wireless Charger
Fast and Multipurpose
This item is compatible with iPhones and Samsung and integrates with your Nest devices as it charges. Google
Budget Pick: Yootech Wireless Charger
This minimal product nonetheless has an LED light to let you know your gadget is powering up. yootech
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