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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 well ahead of its time. 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 a couple of wireless charging pads sprinkled around my office and home. Android phones started supporting wireless charging 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 seen support for wireless charging for watches and headsets, 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's very convenient to set your device down on a charging pad and never fumble with cables.
Also: The 5 best wireless car chargers
Mophie Wireless Charging Stand Plus specs: Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: 200 x 126 x 96 millimeters | Weight: 250 grams | Cord Length: 5 feet
Mophie is well known for its portable battery pack solutions, but the company makes other accessories, too. I spent some time with the Mophie Wireless Charging Stand Plus and loved the ability to charge multiple devices. It gives me the flexibility to charge a smartphone (Android or iPhone), an Apple Watch, and a headset at the same time.
Review: Stylishly charge up to three devices for an affordable price
The Mophie Wireless Charging Stand Plus has an angled stand for phones, a flat surface for phones or headsets, and an Apple Watch charger holder, so that the stand is optimized for multiple devices. It comes with a wall charger included and delivers 15W to charging devices.
After plugging in the stand via the USB-A port, you can charge two devices on the horizontal and angled stands. However, to charge your Apple Watch, you'll have to insert your regular cable through the stand.
Anker PowerWave II Pad specs: Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: 90 x 90 x 14 millimeters | Weight: 130.4 grams | Cord Length: 5 feet
The Anker PowerWave II Pad can charge at fast speeds up to 15W capacity. However, it will smartly adjust between 5W, 7.5W, 10W, and 15W, depending on how much power your particular device demands. It has silicone rings on the top and bottom to ensure the charger stays in place and also keeps your device securely placed on the charger.
You can charge up your phone without taking off the case, as long as the back of the case is less than 5 millimeters thick. There is no fan inside the charger, but it does include advanced temperature control technology.
Apple MagSafe Charger specs: Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: 83 x 83 x 18.3 millimeters | Weight: 45.4 grams | Cord Length: 1 meter
In 2020, Apple released the iPhone 12 smartphone with MagSafe technology. MagSafe supports wireless charging using a magnetic ring alignment. The Apple MagSafe Charger is the default wireless charger available from Apple.
It's a very basic charging puck with USB-C connectivity. 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 it up. The charger can power up all iPhones beginning with the iPhone 8 lineup, but the magnetic alignment is only supported by the iPhone 12 series and later.
Apple also offers a unique MagSafe Duo Charger that's designed to charge your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time. This lightweight charger works well for travel, enabling you to pack fewer cords every time you leave the house.
Also: The best MagSafe accessories for your iPhone (and how MagSafe works)
Belkin Boost Charge specs: Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Dimensions: 125.75 x 102.15 x 102.15 millimeters | Cord Length: Not provided
Belkin has several wireless charging options for mobile devices, and one of the most popular models is the Boost Charge 15W Wireless Charging Stand. The standing form factor props your phone up at an angle, so you can actively 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 -- the charging coils may be angled further up the stand. According to the Belkin site, this charging stand is not compatible with Apple's iPhone 12 Mini.
The Belkin Boost Charge comes with a Quick Charge 3.0 power supply, so it's ready to go out of the box. You can use it with a phone case as thick as 3 millimeters on the back.
ESR HaloLock MagSafe wireless charging stand specs: Maximum Capacity: 15 Watts | Cord Length: 5 feet
ESR produces very affordable accessories, including one of the best MagSafe stands I've tested: the ESR HaloLock MagSafe wireless charging stand. It has four pivot points, so you can adjust it to your perfect viewing angle. Your iPhone securely attaches via magnets, so this product is only compatible with iPhones (iPhone 12 lineup or later).
Review: ESR HaloLock MagSafe stands for Apple iPhone 12 review: Affordable, functional accessories
You can attach your iPhone in landscape or portrait orientation on the stand, so you can use your iPhone while it charges. The ESR HaloLock wireless charging stand is a nice mount for video calls or viewing media content. A USB-C cable is included, but you will need to provide your own wall charger.
The best wireless charger is the Mophie Wireless Charging Stand Plus because it can charge 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's perfect for your nightstand, so you can let your gear charge up while catching some Zzzs.
There are other great wireless chargers on the market, and I've broken down their features, including price, power, and shape. Best of all, every charger is under $100.
Mophie Wireless Charging Stand Plus
Anker PowerWave II Pad
Apple MagSafe Charger
Belkin Boost Charge
ESR HaloLock MagSafe Charging Stand
I consider every option on this list a great wireless charger, so it really depends on your price point, the style you want, and your smartphone. I chose options ranging from basic to versatile. You may need to charge a device while taking a video call, in which case an adjustable stand is ideal. The decision tree below can help you determine the best option for your budget and needs.
Choose this wireless charger...
If you want...
Mophie Wireless Charging Stand
Multiple charging locations, an extra USB-A port, and a stand for your Apple Watch
Anker PowerWave II Pad
A wireless option with adaptive charging capacity, temperature control, and silicone rings to hold your device
Apple MagSafe Charger
A charger specifically designed for iPhones with magnets to hold your device in place
Belkin Boost Charge
A wireless charger that can prop up your phone at two angles and has a 15W charging capacity
ESR HaloLock MagSafe Charging Stand
A wireless charger that conforms to multiple angles, has magnets to hold your iPhone, and includes a USB-C cable
One of the first things to consider as you prepare to purchase a wireless charging pad is how many devices 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. Or maybe you only 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, you should consider your price range. There are very affordable chargers and others that serve as attractive pieces of equipment in your office. Also, higher-capacity wireless chargers will charge your device faster, assuming your device supports higher capacity.
You should also consider whether you want your device propped up at an angle in a stand form factor or resting horizontally on a pad. Luckily, the technology is all the same, Qi, so there are no decisions to make for this aspect.
Most of these wireless chargers support up to 15 Watts, which is the highest rating for most devices today. However, it's your device that limits the speed and capacity of charging, so the charger typically isn't the limiting factor here. In most cases, a 10W charger is perfectly capable of 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.
iPhone models from the iPhone 8 lineup and higher support wireless charging. You can visit an Apple Store or your cellular provider's store to compare iPhone models. Often, though, you'll find better deals through retailers like Amazon.
Yes, some portable power banks now have wireless charging capabilities. For example, Mophie has high-capacity portable battery packs that include Qi charging support. You can bring it anywhere and simply set your device on the pack 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. For portable charging in a hurry, a wired connection is faster and more reliable.
These represent the best wireless chargers available. If you want a few more options, you can't go wrong with these:
This universal wireless charger can power your iPhone, AirPods, Google Pixel phones, and more.
This wireless charger allows you to toggle orientation to watch movies or take video calls while charging.