Plugging in a power cable to charge a mobile device? How 20th century of you! These days, thanks to the power of electromagnetism, all of the cool kids are charging their gadgets wirelessly: Drop your smartphone on top of a wireless charging dock and it’ll instantly start powering up—no cables required.
To find the best wireless chargers, we spent over 40 hours testing 10 of them, using them to charge an iPhone XS and Samsung Note 8 smartphone. Our top pick for the best wireless charging stand is the Yootech X2(available at Amazon), a simple, low-cost charger that offers speedy, flexible charging. If you’re looking for a low-profile charging pad at a reasonable price, the RAVPower RP-PC066 Fast Wireless Charger (available at Amazon) is a great choice.
These are the best wireless chargers we tested ranked, in order:
Yootech X2 Wireless Charging Stand
RAVPower RP-PC066 Wireless Charging Pad
Nimble Wireless Stand
Anker PowerWave Stand
Yootech F500 Wireless Charging Pad
Belkin Wireless Charging Stand
Belkin Bold Wireless Charging Pad
Anker PowerWave Pad
Best Charging Stand
Of all the charging stands we tested for this guide, the Yootech X2 Wireless Charging Stand offered the best combination of fast charging, versatility, and a reasonable price. The X2 charged our Samsung Note 8 in just over 2.5 hours and Apple’s iPhone XS in just under three. Its dual charging coils make it possible to charge your smartphone in either landscape or portrait orientation, without any loss in charging power. Plus, its small footprint means that it won’t take up much space on your bedside table or bureau.
Missing, however, is a USB charger, so you’ll have to consider this additional cost as part of the X2’s total purchase price if you don’t have one already.
If you prefer the low-profile look of a charging pad, the RAVPower RP-PC066 Fast Wireless Charger is the one to buy. At 0.5 inches thick and 3.5 inches in length on each side, it won’t take up much space on your bedside table, and the dull green LED will let you know it is working without keeping you awake. Of all of the charging pads we tested, it was the fastest: during testing, the iPhone XS and Samsung Note 8 took just over 2.5 hours and three hours, respectively, to reach a full charge.
I’m veteran tech writer and editor Richard Baguley. I’ve been testing, breaking and, occasionally, fixing technology since 1992 when I started working for Amiga Format magazine. Yes, I am really that old, you young whippersnapper. Now get off my lawn!
There’s only one real way to test wireless chargers: by charging devices wirelessly.
Specifically, we tested how long each of the chargers in our test group took to power up the batteries of iPhone XS and a Samsung Note 8 from a completely discharged state to being fully charged. We tested this by completely discharging the devices, then placing them on the charger and recording the battery level every 15 minutes until they were fully charged.
We chose to use an iPhone XS and a Samsung Note 8, as they allowed us to test the 7.5 Watt and 10 Watt charging modes of each device as well as the Qi 5W charging standard. We also evaluated the features of each wireless charger, their build quality, ease of use, and other factors that could impact their use.
What You Should Know About Wireless Chargers
How Does a Wireless Charger Work?
A wireless charger works by creating a quickly alternating magnetic field with a coil inside the charger. A similar coil inside the smartphone picks up this magnetic field and converts it back into electrical energy, which is used to charge the battery. Because this magnetic field passes through the air, you don’t need a charging cable. And, because the field can also go through most materials, the phone can typically stay in its case while charging.
Although they are convenient, wireless chargers have their downsides. Most need to be plugged into an electrical socket via a wall adapter to work unless they come with a built-in battery, like the Mophie Powerstation Wireless External Battery Charger for Qi Enabled Smartphones. They won’t work with some thicker phone cases, and some are finicky about where you place your device in relation to the wireless charger’s coils. If you miss the right spot, your phone won’t charge, or will charge very slowly.
Wireless Charging Standards
There are a number of wireless charging standards out there. The most widely adopted one, and therefore, the one your smartphone is most likely to use, is a standard called Qi, created by the Wireless Power Consortium. This allows any compatible wireless charger to deliver up to 5 Watts of juice to a Qi-compatible device, like the ones listed here.
When wireless charging was added to iPhones, Apple created a new charging mode that delivers a little more juice to their handsets: 7.5 Watts. This Apple 7.5 Watt charging mode requires a USB power adapter capable of delivering 2.1 Amps of power—more than many older USB power adapters can deliver. The Apple USB power adapter that ships with the iPhone will support this high current flow, though.
Charging Samsung Phones
Samsung smartphones equipped with wireless charging capabilities can accept up to 10 Watts of power. That’s good news as, the more watts, the quicker the charging process—but only if you have the right combination of charger and device. Samsung’s 10 Watt charging works by increasing the voltage from the power adapter from 5 to 9 Volts, a trick pulled from a wired charging standard called QuickCharge 3.0. So, you’ll need a USB power adapter that supports this to get the maximum juice out of these chargers.
Many charging stands and pads are fussy about the orientation of the phones set on them to charge because the charging coil in the stand and the receiving coil in the phone have to be aligned: if they’re not, the magnetic field between them won’t transfer power effectively. Some chargers, like the Belkin Bold stand, get around this by placing the phone so the center of the handset is over the transmitter coil, whichever way the phone is sitting. This method typically makes a charging stand bulkier.
Other Wireless Charging Stands and Charging Pads We Tested
The Tylt Twisty is an attractive charging stand, built on a carved wooden base. Attached to this is the plastic top, which is where the twist comes in. Literally: spin this around and it rotates from the phone sitting horizontally to sitting at a 30-degree angle. That puts the phone at just enough of a tilt that you can roll over and see what time it is without raising your head too much. A soft, plastic ring on the top stops the phone from sliding off, and a small white LED lets you know when charging starts.
Charging was pretty speedy: my iPhone XS took two hours and 53 minutes to charge, while the Samsung Note 8 took two hours and 56 minutes.
The Twisty’s aesthetic is unique, but this device doesn’t come cheap.
The RAVPower Wireless Charging Stand is a simple, attractive stand that does an effective job of charging phones. It has two coils, so you can put the phone in either upright in portrait mode, or sideways in landscape mode. Either way, there is a charging coil right underneath the phone that can deliver 5, 7.5 or 10 Watts, which provides for quick charging.
The RAVPower Wireless Charging Stand is one of the more expensive models that we tested, but it is also one of the best. The small base means that it won’t take up much space on your bedside table and it is flexible enough to hold the phone in both portrait and landscape modes. There are cheaper options that offer the same features, though.
Doesn't take up much space
Works in both portrait and landscape orientations
Supports all three charging modes
None that we could find
What do you get if you cross a beer mat and a wireless charger? Something like the Tylt Puck, a pricey wireless charger that combines cork and plastic into one smart-looking package. On the bottom of the 0.9-inch thick puck is a cork base, which should stop both your bedside table from being scratched and soak up any spills. On the top of the puck is the white plastic cover that the wireless charger sits under. Plonk your phone on the top and a small, inconspicuous white LED lights up to let you know that charging has begun. We did find, however, that the top of this charger was somewhat slick: even a slight tap on the phone sent it sliding off the charger or moved it so that the charging process stopped.
All of the usual wireless charging modes are here, so it can pump out 7.5 Watts for iPhones and 10 Watts for Android devices, or 5 Watts for standard QI. We found that charging times were pretty average, taking 2 hours and 34 minutes to charge the iPhone XS and just under three hours to juice up the Samsung Note 8.
It certainly looks cool, but at $45, you seem to be paying a lot more for looks then performance. Not that there's anything wrong with things looking nice, but is double the price of other chargers that do just as good a job worth it? Probably not.
The Anker PowerWave is a low-cost charger that doesn’t take up much space and works effectively for phones that support 10-watt fast charging. It took an impressive 2 hours 34 minutes to charge the Note 8 in our tests. It has a simple, clean design with a small discrete blue LED at the front to show when it is charging. This LED is dim enough that it won’t distract at night but light enough to be seen in daylight.
However, it has a few things missing: there is no support for the 7.5 Watt mode on iPhones and no power adapter. That means that iPhone users will have to settle for slower charging: it took 3 hours 31 minutes to charge an iPhone Xs in our tests.
You’ll need to add a QuickCharge 3.0 power adapter to your purchase if you want to use this charger on the road.
Want a no-frills wireless charging pad with a little blinky LED charm? The F500 has it. When you plonk your phone onto this small, svelte charging pad, a ring of green LEDs around the edge light up. After about 30 seconds the lights dim, so you’ll know that the phone is charging but you won’t be blinded by them. It took three hours to charge the iPhone XS and just over three and a quarter hours to charge the Samsung note 8: decent, but not overly fast time.
What you don’t get with this wireless charger is a USB power adapter, so factor the extra cost of an appropriate one into your sums. It was also a little slower to charge than some others, taking just under three hours to charge both the Note and the iPhone XS in our tests.
The Belkin Wireless Charging stand looks more like a piece of geometric sculpture than a charger. Aesthetics aside, this black plastic stand is large, but it does the job: We found that it charged both our test Samsung Note 8 and iPhone XS in decent times: just over two and a half hours and three hours 18 minutes, respectively. The unusual design of the Bold stand also allows you to sit the phone in landscape orientation: a plus if you like to lie in bed and watch movies while you doze off.
One interesting thing to note is that this charger doesn’t use a USB cable: Instead, it uses an old-school barrel plug and a dedicated wall charger. While that means it can handle the higher power 7.5W and 10W modes without issues, it also means that it is useless if you take the charger with you on a trip but forget the power adapter: You can’t plug it into a USB port on your computer.
Belkin P-F7U050 Boost Up Bold Wireless Charging Pad
The Belkin Bold Wireless Charging Pad goes for an Apple-like aesthetic but doesn’t quite pull it off. For one thing, at 0.64 inches thick and 3.7 inches wide, it feels too big and clumsy to be an Apple product. There are some nice touches though: a ring of soft rubber on the top that stops the phone from getting scratched and the soft rubber base that keeps it steady and doesn’t scratch the surface it is on.
Its performance was lackluster: it took over three hours to charge the Note 8. Most of the other chargers we tested completed the task in about 30 minutes less time. Performance with the iPhone XS was better, however: it took three hours and 18 minutes to fully charge it.
The Anker PowerPort pad is a blocky stand with a single LED on the bottom. It looks cheap and, to be fair, it is cheap; it was one of the least expensive chargers we tested.
The PowerPort includes a USB cable, but no charger. This means that you’ll have to buy a QuickCharge USB power adapter if you are using it away from your computer, which will add to the charging pad’s total purchase price.
There is no support for the Apple 7.5W charging mode, but in tests, we found that it didn’t make that much difference, taking three hours and 18 minutes to charge an iPhone XS. The Samsung Note 8 was another matter: It took just two hours and 20 minutes to charge the large battery of this Android phone, the quickest charge time out of any of our tests.
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