A wireless charging stand or pad makes life a little easier. You don’t have to fumble with a cable at the end of a long day, and you’re less likely to trip over wires. But finding a truly good charger isn’t as simple as looking for the model with the best spec sheet. We’ll let you know what to look for when shopping for a single-device charger, and recommend some good models that are worth your attention.
What to look for in a wireless charger
It’s tempting to buy a wireless charging pad optimized for the size and features of the phone you have right now. Resist that urge — this is an accessory you’ll probably have for years, and you don’t want to replace it every time you buy a new handset. Instead, think about the phones you’re likely to use down the road. If you’re sure you’ll use iPhones for a long time, a MagSafe charger will be faster and more convenient. If you use Android or think you might switch sides, however, you’ll want a more universal design.
You’ll also want something that accepts a variety of device sizes. Certain wireless charging stands don’t work well with the iPhone 13 mini or other particularly small phones, for instance. If you think you may change phone sizes at some point, a pad charger is a wiser choice. With that said, you’ll still want to pay attention to any potentially limiting design features, such as prominent cradles and lips.
Also, consider wireless chargers with modular components. While you’ll have to invest exclusively in one company’s ecosystem, this gives you room to grow as your device needs change. You can add a charger for a second phone or smartwatch, and some systems even offer modular batteries to supply power on the go. Just be sure to look at a multi-device charger if there’s a very good chance you’ll expand your setup in the future.
Where and how will you use your charger?
Odds are that you have a specific use case in mind for your charger. You may want it by your bedside for quick access in the morning, or on your desk for at-a-glance notifications. You might even keep it in your bag for convenient travel charging. If you intend to place your charger on a nightstand, you’ll usually want a pad. With a stand, even a dim always-on display can prove distracting when you’re trying to sleep. You may also want a wireless charging pad if your phone will sit on a low table, as it might be easier to grab in a rush. Look at compact models if space is tight.
On your desk, you may prefer a stand to quickly glance at alerts or make video calls. Want something more travel-friendly? A puck or similarly minimalist design is typically best. You may also want a charger with a battery (either modular or built-in) for camping or whenever an outlet isn’t nearby.
Performance matters, to a point
Although wireless charging is usually slower than its wired equivalent, speed is still an important consideration. A fast charger can supply enough power for a long night out in the time it takes to change outfits.
In general, a 15W charger is more than quick enough for most situations, and you’ll need a MagSafe charger to extract that level of performance from an iPhone. With that said, even the slower 7.5W and 10W chargers are fast enough for an overnight power-up. If anything, you’ll want to worry more about support for cases. While many models can deliver power through a reasonably thick case (typically 3mm to 5mm), you’ll occasionally run into examples that only work with naked phones.
There are some proprietary chargers that smash the 15W barrier if you have the right phone. Google’s second-generation Pixel Stand, for example, delivers up to 23W for a Pixel 6 Pro or Pixel 7 Pro. Optimized designs like this can make sense if you’re loyal to one brand. Be sure to get a charger that still works well with other manufacturers’ phones, though, as you don’t want to replace your accessory (or endure sluggish speeds) if you switch brands.
Quality, box contents and the little details
Once you’ve chosen the form factor and performance levels that meet your needs, you’ll want to consider the fit and finish. You’re likely going to use your wireless charger every day, so even small differences in quality could make the difference between joy and frustration.
If your charger doesn’t use MagSafe, textured surfaces like fabric or rubberized plastic are more likely to keep your phone in place. The base should be grippy or weighty enough that the charger won’t slide around. If you’re buying a stand, check that it won’t tip over or wobble.
Pay attention to what’s included in the box. Some models don’t include power adapters, and may even ask you to reuse your phone’s USB cable. What may seem to be a bargain may prove expensive if you have to buy extras just to use it. Also, some cables and chargers are better than others. A USB-C charger is more future-proof, while braided cables may be less likely to break or tangle.
You’ll also want to think about the minor conveniences. Status lights are useful for indicating correct phone placement, but an overly bright light can be distracting. Ideally, the light dims or shuts off after a certain period of time. And while we caution against lips and trays that limit compatibility, you may still want some barriers to prevent your device falling off its perch.
By now, you should know what to look for. While it would be impossible for us to test every charger, we’ve tried numerous models and have some favorites.
Best overall wireless charging pad: Otterbox OtterSpot Wireless Charging System
There’s no shortage of portable wireless chargers, but it’s rare that you can find one which is as well-suited to your desk as it is your bag. The Otterbox OtterSpot system is our top pick precisely because it’s so versatile. The base unit is stable, includes a power adapter and accommodates a wide range of phone sizes. But it really shines when you want to leave home. You can buy as many as three 5,000mAh portable batteries that optionally stack on top of the base to recharge, and serve as completely wireless chargers on the go. Those batteries can power wired devices through USB-C, too.
This isn’t the fastest charger given its 10W output, and the base alone is normally expensive at $55 (though it’s down to $38 as we write this). If you want a station you really can use everywhere, though, the OtterSpot is an obvious choice that can grow along with your needs.
Runner up wireless charging pad: Belkin BoostCharge Pro Portable Wireless Charger Pad
It’s easy to find wireless charging pucks that are fast or portable, but rarely both — and certainly not as well-considered as Belkin’s BoostCharge Pro Portable Wireless Charger Pad. Its extremely compact design not only offers 15W MagSafe charging (plus Qi charging when flat), but includes a kickstand that lets you watch videos while you power up. Add a long 6.6ft braided cable and this is an ideal charger whether you’re traveling or catching up on TV shows.
The emphasis on MagSafe may make the BoostCharge less appealing if you’re an Android user. It’s a definite step up from Apple’s more affordable but simpler MagSafe Charger, however. And importantly, you have the choice of buying Belkin’s accessory with ($80) or without ($60) a power adapter.
Best budget wireless charging pad: Anker 315 Wireless Charger
If you just need the basics, Anker’s 315 Wireless Charger offers significant value from a well-known name. It tops out at 10W (7.5W for iPhones), doesn’t include a power adapter and relies on a microUSB cable, but it also costs only $15. Even if you have to buy an adapter, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal.
Best overall wireless charging stand: Belkin BoostCharge 15W Wireless Charging Stand
There’s fierce competition in the wireless charging stand space, and it’s easy to get a good 15W charger if you’re willing to pay. Belkin, however, is one of the few that promises truly solid value. Its $45 BoostCharge 15W Wireless Charging Stand costs less than some alternatives while including a power adapter in the box. The lip at the bottom will keep your phone stable, and dual coils let you charge while watching a video in landscape mode.
There’s no MagSafe or other device-specific charging optimizations on this one. And like many wireless charging stands, this doesn’t officially support the iPhone 13 mini and similarly small handsets. But there’s otherwise little to complain about here — this is a no-nonsense power solution at a good price.
Runner-up wireless charging stand: Spigen ArcField PF2102
There aren’t many great options for wireless chargers that use Samsung’s fast power delivery technology, particularly if you want a stand. Thankfully, Spigen’s ArcField PF2102 is up to the job. It delivers 15W to all Galaxy phones that support Super Fast Wireless Charging, and it’s a well-made (if unspectacular) perch that prevents your device from sliding around. The universal form factor works with other phone brands, too.
You’ll want to shop carefully. Some versions don’t include a power adapter, and some stores sell for less than the official $80. If you can score a good deal, though, this is an ideal way to charge your Galaxy device while providing a clear view of the always-on display.
Best budget wireless charging stand: Anker 313 Wireless Charger
Anker’s strong value in pad chargers also applies to stands. The 313 Wireless Charger tops out at 10W (5W for iPhones), doesn’t include a power brick and uses a microUSB cable, but it’s also $20. You can buy an adapter and still undercut the price of some equally competent alternatives. It can charge while your phone is in landscape orientation, too. You might want to look at competing products if they cost under $40 with an adapter included, but the 313 is otherwise difficult to top.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/best-wireless-charger-140036359.html?src=rss