Best wireless charger 2021: Never fumble with cables again | ZDNet

One of the first mobile phones with wireless charging was the Palm Pre, released in 2009 with an optional back cover and Touchstone charging stand. WebOS on the Palm Pre was a slick operating system but was well ahead of its time, and the Palm smartphones died with carrier exclusives and quality issues.

We then saw Nokia adopt today’s Qi charging standard in 2012 with the Nokia Lumia 920, and since then, I’ve had at least a couple of wireless charging pads sprinkled around my office and home. Android phones supported wireless charging starting in 2012 with the Samsung Galaxy S3. Apple joined the party in 2017 with the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X devices.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve also seen watches charge wirelessly, some right on the back of your mobile phone, and support for wireless charging in headset cases, too. Wireless charging is often slower than wired charging — this does not include OnePlus and its super-fast Warp Charge 50 Wireless technology — but it is very convenient to simply set your device down on a charging pad and never fumble with cables.


15W fast charging



Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: 90x90x14 mm | Weight: 130.4 grams | Cord Length: 5 feet


The Anker PowerWave II Pad has the capacity to charge at fast speeds up to 15W capacity, but will smartly adjust between 5W, 7.5W, 10W, and 15W as your particular device demands. It has silicone rings on the top and bottom to ensure the charger stays put on the table and also keep your device in place on the charger.

You can charge up your phone while it is in a case, as long as the back of the case is less than 5mm thick. There is no fan in the charger, but it includes advanced temperature control technology.

Pros: 

  • Silicone rings to keep your device in place
  • Adaptive charging capacity
  • Temperature control technology

Cons:


Magnetic iPhone charger


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Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: 83x83x18.3 mm | Weight: 45.4 grams | Cord Length: 1 meter   


In 2020, Apple released iPhone 12 smartphones with MagSafe technology. This technology supports wireless charging and a magnetic ring alignment on the back of the phones. The Apple MagSafe Charger is the default charger available from Apple.

It’s a very basic charging puck with a USB-C end on the cable. Keep in mind that a USB-C A/C adapter is not included with this charger, so you will need a compatible one to power up the MagSafe Charger. The charger will power up all iPhones, from the iPhone 8 through iPhone 12, but the magnetic alignment is only supported by the iPhone 12 series.

Apple also offers a rather unique MagSafe Duo Charger that is designed to charge up both your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time. This charger works well for travel, but you have to make sure to grab the charger and your phone to separate them since the Duo Charger is very lightweight.

Pros: 

  • Seamless functionality with iPhones
  • Strong magnets to hold it in place

Cons:

  • No included power adapter
  • Expensive 


Stand form factor


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Image: Belkin

Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: 125.75×102.15×102.15 mm | Weight: Not provided | Cord Length: Not provided


Belkin has several wireless charging options for mobile devices, and one of its most popular models is the Boost Charge 15W Wireless Charging Stand. This stand form factor props your phone up at an angle, so you can actually use it on your desk while your phone is mounted on the stand.

One thing to consider with a stand form factor charger is that charging watches and headsets may be tricky or not supported with the charging coils provided at an angle further up the stand. Belkin also states this charging stand is not compatible with the Apple iPhone 12 mini.

The Belkin Boost Charge comes with a Quick Charge 3.0 power supply, so it is ready to go out of the box. Case thickness of up to 3mm is supported with this charger.

Pros: 

  • Charge at two angles
  • Two-year warranty

Cons:

  • May not charge watches and headsets with stand design
  • Front LED light may be bothersome on a nightstand


Built for iPhone 12


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Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: Not defined | Weight: Not defined | Cord Length: 5 feet


ESR produces very affordable accessories and one of the best MagSafe stands we tested was the ESR HaloLock MagSafe wireless charging stand. It has four pivot points, so you can adjust to your perfect viewing angle. Your iPhone 12 securely attaches via magnets, which is one reason this product is just for iPhone 12 devices.

You can attach your iPhone in landscape or portrait orientation on the stand, so you can use your iPhone while it is charging. The ESR HaloLock wireless charging stand (see our review) is a nice mount for video calls or viewing media content while your iPhone charges. A USB-C cable is included, but you will need to provide your own wall charger.

Pros: 

  • Pivots for various configurations.
  • Strong magnets to hold the iPhone in place.
  • Good quality materials

Cons:

  • Limited to iPhone charging
  • No power adapter included


Charge up to three devices


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Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: 200x126x96 mm | Weight: 250 grams | Cord Length: 5 feet


Mophie is well known for its portable battery pack solutions, but the company also makes other accessories. We spent some time with the Mophie Wireless Charging Stand Plus (see our full review) and loved the ability to charge multiple devices along with the flexibility to charge either Android or iPhone devices, the Apple Watch, and headsets.

The Mophie Wireless Charging Stand Plus has an angled stand for phones, flat surface for phones or headsets, and an Apple Watch vertical holder so that the stand is maximized for multiple devices. 15W of power is provided to charging devices with the wall charger also provided.

Two pads, one horizontal and one angled stand, provide wireless charging while a USB-A port is on the back of the accessory so you can charge your third device. An Apple Watch stand is provided, so you can insert your Apple Watch charging puck and USB cable.

Pros: 

  • Multiple charging locations
  • Extra USB-A port for wired charging
  • Dark fabric covering
  • Apple Watch stand included

Cons:


Faster than wired charging


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Maximum Capacity: 50 Watts (phone dependent) | Dimensions: 118x89x70 mm | Weight: 180 grams | Cord Length: 5 feet


OnePlus is known for providing extremely fast wired chargers for its Android smartphones and has extended this fast charging capability to wireless charging. The OnePlus Warp Charge 50 wireless charging stand is available now.

This charging stand can charge up a OnePlus 9 Pro from 1% to 100% in just 43 minutes. That is faster than wired charging for most smartphones. You can rest your phone on it horizontally or vertically, too.

While the OnePlus Warp Charge 50 is optimized for the latest OnePlus phones and will charge them at the fastest rate, it will also charge other Qi-enabled devices at a maximum of 15W. At the fastest speeds, you will hear the internal fan activate to keep the charging stand cool. You can manage the fan and charge at a slower rate if you desire a quiet mode of operation too.

Pros: 

  • Ultra-fast charging for OnePlus 9 Pro
  • 15W charging for other Qi devices

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • One angle stand is a bit bulky
  • Can’t charge headsets and watches

There are lots of options here, which do you prefer?

While it is very expensive (starting at $585), the Volonic Valet 3 is fantastic. It incorporates the innovative Aira FreePower technology, so you can rest your phone or headset down anywhere on the charge to have it make a connection and initiate charging.

Our favorite from the list above is the Mophie Wireless Charging Stand Plus that supports charging up to three devices at once, including the Apple Watch. The extra USB-A port is also convenient when you have a device that doesn’t support wireless charging. It is perfect for the nightstand to get all of your gear ready for the day ahead.

Should you only look for the highest wattage rating?

Most all of these wireless chargers support up to 15 Watts, which is the highest rating for most devices today. However, it is your actual device that limits the speed and capacity so the charger is typically not the limiting factor here. In most cases, a 10W charger is perfectly capable for charging up your device.

Wireless charging is slower than wired charging, except in special cases where there is a proprietary solution. For example, the OnePlus Warp Charge 50 charger can charge up the battery in a OnePlus 9 Pro faster than many wired connections.

Can I charge my phone wirelessly while on the go?

Yes, there are portable power banks that have integrated wireless charging capability. Mophie, and others, have high capacity portable battery packs that include Qi charging support, so you can take it with you and set your device on the battery to charge it up.

Wireless charging is slower than wired charging, and it can sometimes be a challenge to keep a device positioned properly on a battery pack to charge it up. For portable charging needs, a wired connection is faster and more reliable.

How to choose  

One of the first things to consider as you prepare to purchase a wireless charging pad is how many devices do you want to charge at once. Some pads have the capacity and space to charge multiple devices at the same time. These often have dedicated space on the charger for headsets and watches, too. You may also just need to charge one smartphone, so the most basic wireless charging works well for this need.

After figuring out how many devices you want to charge, then you should consider your price range. There are very affordable chargers and others who serve as attractive pieces of furniture in your office. A part of the consideration for the price is the maximum capacity you desire. Higher capacity wireless chargers will charge your device faster, assuming your device supports higher capacity.

Thankfully, the technology is all the same, Qi, so there are no options to consider for this aspect. You may also want to consider whether you want your device propped up at an angle in a stand form factor or resting horizontally on a pad form factor.

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