Best wireless chargers for your smartphone or smart watch
It's taken a while to really gain momentum, but wireless charging devices that use the now-standard Qi technology are becoming increasingly popular, as well as more affordable. Even Apple -- the last big hold-out on wireless charging -- has adopted Qi since the release of last year's iPhone 8 (even if its own AirPower charger seems to be MIA).
There's a variety of different designs available too, with chargers that are suitable for cars as well as indoor use, and even versatile chargers that can top up two or three smartphones and/or smart watches at the same time.
Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock
It's more than a year since Apple announced its AirPower charger, which was intended to provide wireless charging for no less than three devices -- iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPod headphones -- all at the same time. Following its non-appearance at the recent 30 October event, some rumours have suggested that the AirPower charger may not arrive until 2019.
In the meantime, Apple's only wireless charging option is the Magnetic Charging Dock for the Apple Watch. The Charging Dock works with all versions of the Apple Watch, and allows you to lay the watch flat (with the face upwards), or on its side, which tells the Watch to switch into Nightstand mode where it can act as a bedside alarm clock.
£75 / $79
Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Dock
Belkin's Valet dock has been a popular choice for people who own both an iPhone and an Apple Watch, and Belkin has now updated the Valet's dual-device design with wireless charging as well. The new Boost Up Wireless Charging Dock is already available in the US, and is due to arrive in the UK in November (£TBC).
Like the Valet, the Boost Up can charge both Apple devices at the same time, with a 7.5W charging pad for the iPhone, and a 5W pad for the Apple Watch. However, there's a third charging option as well, as the Boost Up also has a standard USB-A port tucked around the back, which means that you can use it to charge non-Apple devices as well.
£150 (TBC) / $159.99
Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand
Belkin makes a number of generic wireless charging devices that will work with most Qi-compatible smartphones, but its new Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand is specifically designed for use with Google's new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL models.
There are two options available, as you can buy a simple charging pad that lies flat on your desk for £54.99/$59.99, or stump up an extra £10/$10 for a version that has an upright, adjustable stand as well. Both versions have been 'certified by Google' and use Google's proprietary 10W technology, which means you can charge the Pixel 3 smartphones in two hours. It even claims to work with plastic smartphone cases that are up to 3mm thick (but metal cases are a definite no-no).
from £64.99 / $69.99
Melbourne-based Cygnett has a raft of wireless chargers planned for release later this year, although UK and US pricing for some models is still subject to confirmation.
The Prime is a neatly designed charging stand that looks pretty smart on an office desk. It's available in a variety of colours, and an adjustable design allows you to place it flat on the desk, or tilt it into the upright position if you want to view your smartphone's screen. The non-slip surface also allows you to switch your smartphone between portrait or widescreen orientation as required.
The charging pad will work with any Qi-compatible smartphone, and can provide either 7.5W output for fast-charging an Apple iPhone, or 10W for Android devices.
£64.95 / $74.95
Cygnett's TwoFold includes two Qi-compatible wireless charging pads that provide a total of 20W output. That allows it to support fast-charging for two smartphones at the same time, and it can automatically detect whether to charge at 7.5W for Apple's iPhones or 10W for Android smartphones.
£89.95 / $99.95
Cygnett Magnetic Vent Wireless Charger
A recent price cut makes Cygnett's Magnetic Vent Wireless Charger one of the most affordable Qi chargers currently available -- as well as being a really useful option for drivers.
As the name suggests, the Vent Charger clips onto the air vent inside a car, and has a powerful magnetic surface to hold your smartphone in place even on bumpy roads. Its wireless charging pad is compatible with any Qi smartphone, but it only provides 7.5W output, so it's more suitable for Apple's iPhones than high-end Android devices that require 10W for fast charging.
£22.95 / $44.99
Google Pixel Stand
The stand provides 10W of power for fast charging, and while resting in the Stand the Pixel 3 smartphones give you instant access to the Google Assistant, simply by saying "Hey Google...".
The Stand includes a 'sunrise' alarm clock option that uses the screen of the Pixel 3 to gradually increase the level of light in your bedroom for 15 minutes before it wakes you up. It can display album artwork as you listen to music, or a slideshow of your favourite photos. It can even integrate with the (Google-owned) Nest video doorbell so you can keep an eye on things at home while you're in the office.
£69 / $79
KitSound XDock Qi
Most smartphones have an alarm option already built in, but KitSound's XDock Qi throws in a complete alarm clock, FM radio and speaker for people who like to wake-up to their favourite radio stations.
Due on 12 November, the XDock Qi provides 10W of charging power and is compatible with most Qi-based smartphones, and the charging pad is wide enough to support the smartphone in upright or horizontal modes.
There's a large clock display with adjustable brightness levels, and two alarm options for different times of day. The FM radio is backed up by a 5W speaker to give your morning music a boost, and the XDock Qi also supports Bluetooth, so you can stream music from other devices as well. There's even an aux-in for an old-fashioned wired connection, too.
£69.99 / $69.99
Logitech Powered for iPhone
Logitech's Powered stand can provide a modest 5W charge for any Qi-compatible smartphone, but it's specifically designed for the iPhone 8 and later, and delivers the recommended 7.5W when used with those models.
The stand is angled sharply upwards at 65 degrees, so you can use Face ID to unlock the iPhone; it can support the iPhone in either upright or horizontal mode if you want to watch some video. The Powered stand is compatible with Apple's own iPhone cases, so you can charge the iPhone while it's still in the case; Logitech also says that it will work with third-party plastic or leather cases as long as they're less than 3mm thick.
£59.99 / $69.99
Mophie Wireless Charging Base
There are a lot of cheap and cheerful Qi chargers from companies we've never heard of, but if you want an affordable charger from a well-known and reliable brand name, then Mophie's Wireless Charging Base fits the bill.
Priced at £39.95/$49.95, the Charging Base consists of a simple, circular charging pad that sits flat on your desktop. It provides 7.5W power to any Qi-compatible smartphone, which will be fine for Apple's iPhones and many Android smartphones. But, if you have a high-end Android device that can use 10W for fast-charging -- such as Google's Pixel 3 range -- then there's a 10W model, called the Charge Stream, which includes a stand and costs £64.95 ($69.95).
£39.95 / $49.95
Mophie Charge Stream PowerStation Wireless
Most Qi chargers still need to be plugged into mains power, but if you need to top-up your battery when you're travelling then Mophie's Charge Stream PowerStation Wireless provides a useful portable option.
The PowerStation looks like a conventional portable battery pack, with two models available that offer 6,040mAh capacity (£69.95/$79.95) or 10,000mAh (£89.95/$99.95). Both models have a conventional USB connector, which can be used to charge any smartphone (the battery capacity is also enough to charge some smaller tablets as well). However, the PowerStation also acts as a wireless charging pad for any Qi-compatible device. The wireless charging only provides 5W of power, so it will be a bit slow, but it could still be a life-saver if your smartphone battery expires when you're away from the office.
from £69.95 / $79.95
Samsung Wireless Charger Duo
Samsung sells a basic wireless charging pad for £49/$59.99, but if you're a fan of Samsung gadgets then the Wireless Charger Duo will let you charge up two smartphones, or a second device such as the company's popular Gear Sport smartwatch.
Available in black or white, the Duo provides 7.5W power, and supports Samsung's proprietary Fast Charge option. It will also work with Qi-compatible devices from other manufacturers as well, including the iPhone 8 and X ranges, which also support 7.5W charging. The size of the Duo also means that it has room to include a cooling fan, to make sure there's no risk of overheating when using the fast-charge option.
£89.99 / $119.99
Samsung Galaxy Watch Charging Dock
Samsung's Duo charger is a good option for use at home or in the office, but its twin charging pads and internal cooling fan means that it's pretty bulky.
If you own one of Samsung's Galaxy watches, then this compact little dock is designed to provide a more portable charging option. The dock is small enough to slip into a briefcase or jacket pocket, and the watch displays the battery level on its screen so that you can quickly see when it's fully charged.
The dock has a Micro-USB port at the back, which means that you can power it from a laptop when you're travelling. There's no mains power supply included, though, so you'll need to hang onto the charging cable that originally came with the watch.
£34.99 / $39.99
Scosche MagicMount Pro Charge
Scosche specialises in car accessories, and makes a number of different versions of its MagicMount Pro for use when you're driving. Its European distribution is a little spotty, but the MagicMount range should be available via its EU website in mid-November, or from specialist retailers such as Halfords in the UK.
The model shown here is designed to simply sit on the car dashboard or attach to the windscreen. It includes an adapter for the car's power supply, and provides up to 10W charging for any Qi-compatible smartphone. There are also models at the same price that provide different attachments, including options for attaching to the car's air-vent or even the slot of a CD player. There's also a basic indoor model for your desktop as well.
£59.99 (TBC) / $59.99
Ted Baker Portable Wireless Charger
If you want a charger to match your Ted Baker socks and boxer shorts then you're in luck, as the company has just launched its first range of Qi wireless chargers.
Available in gold ('Hoppi') and grey ('Peppe'), Ted Baker's chargers are relatively expensive, at £80 each. They are both smart and versatile, as they provide a portable battery pack with a USB port that can be used to charge any smartphone, along with a Qi-compatible pad for wireless charging. There's an indoor desktop model as well, costing £60, and if you really like to coordinate your accessories then the company also makes a matching range of smartphone cases.
The Ted Baker range isn't available in the US at the moment.