Wireless charging phones have been on the market for several years, but wireless chargers themselves rarely come packaged with new devices.
Which means that if you want the convenience of wireless charging, you have to buy one.
There’s no shortage of choices on the market. So what’s the best one for you? We’re here to help you answer that question.
Puck, mat, or charging stand?
Wireless chargers come in many shapes and sizes. Each has its pros and cons, but what you choose ultimately comes down to how you charge. These are the three categories most chargers fall under:
- Most wireless chargers are simply pucks that lay flat on a desk or table. They’re often stylish and convenient, but it’s hard to see your phone’s screen while it’s charging and you have to fiddle around each time you set your phone down to find the sweet spot for charging.
- Similar to the puck, mats lie flat on a surface, meaning phone visibility is tough, and it’s hard to use your phone while you’re topping off the battery. Mats have an advantage over pucks: Some of them can charge multiple devices at the same time.
- Charging stand. This option holds your phone upright at an angle, so it’s easier to see messages or notifications, or to watch videos while charging. Look for options that are adjustable for portrait or landscape mode or multiple angles for more flexibility. Ventev’s wireless chargestand even lets you free the charging puck from the stand for flat-on-the-table charging, offering even more versatility.
How fast will the wireless charger power up your phone?
This is a big consideration, and one of the reasons wireless charging has been so slow to catch on.
Most wireless chargers max out at 5 watts. They’ll replenish your battery, but it could take a while, and running any apps could be a problem. If you’re charging at 5 watts, using GPS or streaming music could leave you with less battery than when you started, or might just slow the rate of battery decline.
Other wireless chargers deliver 7.5 watts. Apple is expected to release an iOS 11 update later this year that would allow the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X to charge wirelessly at that speed.
But if you want a wireless charger that’ll keep up with tech advances, look for ones delivering 15 watts. They’ll charge phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note8 at their optimal rate and can still charge any phone that asks for less power (like the new iPhones) as fast as possible. Plus, by providing up to 15 watts, a charger will likely support future devices in the near term.
Do you need to charge in the car?
A number of cars now offer wireless charging built in or as an option. But often these chargers keep your phone out of sight, which means you can’t use it to navigate. If you’re not in the market for a new car and your current ride doesn’t have a wireless charger, there’s another option.
If you often use maps or stream music while driving, look for a wireless car charger that clips to your air vents. It keeps your phone at eye level so you can easily follow your route, and it’s easy to slip your phone in and out of the charger’s spring-loaded arms.
Pay attention to the charging rates, though. With some wireless car chargers, your phone will lose power if you’re using battery-intensive apps like GPS. Find one like Ventev’s wirelesspro dock, which delivers 15 watts to charge your phone at its fastest rate.
Do you need to buy a wireless charger from the same maker as your phone?
No. Device makers have adopted existing wireless charging standards instead of creating their own, giving you more options.
The most common wireless charging standard is called Qi (pronounced CHEE). PMA (also known as Airfuel) and Samsung’s Fast Wireless Charging are the two other ways to wireless charge right now.
Find a charger that matches the standard your phone uses, and you’ll be set. If your phone uses Qi, any Qi-certified charger will work (how well it works depends on the speed – see above). You can also find a charger, like ours, that supports all three ways of charging, making it universal.
Does it matter what kind of phone I have?
Yes. Which phone you have determines what kind of wireless charging it supports. Some phones can charge using multiple standards. Take a look through our list of major phones and the standard they support.
What happens if I forget my charger?
One of the cool things about wireless charging is how convenient it is. Retailers and coffee shops are integrating wireless chargers into their furniture and fixtures. The Aircharge Qi app gives step-by-step directions to the nearest place with wireless chargers. You can also pick up spare chargers for the home and office.
Buying a wireless charger comes down to just a few quick questions. We gave you answers. There’s a quiz on this tomorrow.