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Much like an electric current, when it comes to charging your devices, there are positives and negatives.
A traditional, wall-charging USB unit will fill up your phone faster, and allow you full usage (with limited mobility) while it’s re-fueling, but can quickly become tedious if you’ll need to be plugging it in and out all day. Plus it contributes to the wear-and-tear on your phone’s port, and the cable itself, which eventually can fray and break open, exposing you to the wiring inside.
A wireless unit, however, frees you up from finding the right cables and chaining your phone to the charger, but lags a little with charging speed compared to one that’s plugged directly into a power source. Still, it’s endlessly satisfying to simply drop your device on the pad and have it immediately start charging, then scoop it back up whenever you need it.
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So which is better? It really all depends on your lifestyle and how you use your device. For overnight charging, a wireless pad or stand will do just fine since you won’t really need to access it for hours. It’s also great for taking calls on a Bluetooth headset during the day, as your phone remains stationary on your desk. But a simple USB cable can still be a lifesaver though when you’re caught without an AC outlet and need to fill up your phone from a power bank or a friend’s device.
When searching for the best wireless chargers for iPhones, you’ll most likely come across a few that are “Qi-certified.” Qi (pronounced “chee”) comes from the Chinese word for “energy flow,” and is appropriately named in this case too. Qi-Certified means a device that’s enabled for close-range wireless power transfer using electromagnetic induction, a.k.a wireless charging. This technology in modern mobile devices is about a decade old, and comes as a standard feature in most smartphones nowadays, but dates all the way back to the late 1800s and was used to charge the first electric vehicles. Induction charging, in much higher amounts, is the same way that many of today’s electric vehicles are powered too. A typical “low power” inductive charge for a phone or tablet is under 100 watts, while a higher grade charging system for a vehicle would be somewhere around 1 kilowatt or more. Currently, a wireless charging pad usually caps out at 7.5 watts, but will most likely increase with each new generation of mobile and induction technology.
Jamming a USB cable into your phone and plugging it into a wall or device still gets the job done, but wireless is the wave of the future, and there’s some cool stuff in store — think an entire desk surface that functions as a charger, or charging spots discreetly built into a smart-home. Until then, these four options will keep your devices full, whether you go wired or without.
1. Anker PowerWave Pad
Anker’s PowerWave Pad is the perfect traditional wireless charger for iPhone owners.
It can charge the iPhone at a rate of up to 7.5W, it’s large enough that your phone won’t slip off, and there’s an LED on the charger that lights up when an iPhone is charging. Wireless charging pads can be hit or miss when it comes to performance, but Anker’s gear has always been remarkably consistent. While it works great with iPhones, this wireless charging pad can also be used to top up true wireless earbuds (so long as they have a wireless charging case), or Android devices.
The only thing to consider is that Anker doesn’t include a power adapter with this charger, so you’ll have to pick one up separately. The good news is that you can plug this charger into any USB-A power adapter (like the one that came with your phone), which you probably have laying around. If you’d like to get a new power adapter to use with this wireless charging pad, Anker has you covered.
Buy:Anker PowerWave Padat$12.49
2. Belkin MagSafe 3-in-1 Wireless Charger
If you have the iPhone 12 your device is compatible with a new wireless charging standard called MagSafe, which has a maximum charging speed of 15W — double the rate of a traditional Qi charger.
This improvement in speed is immediately noticeable, so if you have a compatible device we recommend Belkin’s MagSafe 3-in-1 Wireless Charger. This multi-charger can charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and true wireless earbuds simultaneously without a reduction in charging speed. Belkin’s MagSafe charger is the best one we’ve tested, and always worked flawlessly.
In addition to providing great performance, Belkin’s MagSafe 3-in-1 Wireless Charger is also very aesthetically pleasing, which we can’t say for very many tech accessories. Belkin’s minimalist aesthetic matches Apple’s, so your devices will look right at home on this charger. Additionally, the company includes a power adapter with the charger, so it’s all set right out of the box.
Buy:Belkin MagSafe 3-in-1 Wireless Chargerat$149.95
3. Twelve South PlugBug Slim
If you travel often, or like to keep your cables out of sight, Twelve South’s new PlugBug Slim is the best iPhone charger you can get right now.
Instead of protruding outward, the slim charger has a USB-C port that faces downward, which makes it possible to slip behind a set of dresser drawers, bed frame, or any other furniture. Its prongs flip out from the charger itself to save even more space. This unique design is complimented by the charger’s performance: It can charge your iPhone at up to 20 Watts, which makes it a good choice for both iPhone and iPad owners alike.
The PlugBug Slim is the perfect example of why we like Twelve South’s gear, it thoughtfully solves a common problem without any unnecessary bells and whistles.
Buy:Twelve South PlugBug Slimat$24.99
4. Satechi 108W USB-C 3-Port Gan Wall Charger
If you need an iPhone charger with raw performance, the obvious choice is Satechi’s 3-Port Gan charger.
It has three USB-C ports and a maximum power output of 108W, which means it’s capable of charging an iPhone, iPad, and even a 16-inch MacBook Pro at their full charging speed. Impressively, Satechi’s charger is surprisingly small despite delivering this level of performance. It’s not as slender as Twelve South’s PlugBlug Slim, but it’s over five times more powerful.
This charger’s most impressive feature is its ability to automatically redistribute the amount of electricity it sends to its ports based on how many of them are in use. For example, it’ll send a full 100W of electricity to its top port if you plug in a MacBook Pro while the other ports aren’t in use. If you decide to plug another gadget into the medium or bottom port it may only send 65W to the top port. The idea is that Satechi’s charger will always adjust to make sure each device charges as quickly as possible based on your needs at that time.
If you want one charger that works with every device in your house, Satechi’s 3-Port Gan Charger can’t be topped.
Buy:Satechi 3-Port Gan Chargerat$74.99
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