Buying the right wireless charger can be surprisingly difficult. There are a ton of options out there — some that charge at different speeds, some that have different form factors, and some that don’t include everything you need in the box.
So to help you out, we’ve put together a guide of what to look for in a wireless charger for your next phone.
Qi charging: This may seem obvious, but there are a couple other wireless charging standards out there, so make sure whatever you pick up supports the Qi standard.
Power: Base wireless charging starts at 5W, but most phones support some kind of fast charging. Apple’s iPhones are designed to charge at a maximum speed of 7.5W, Samsung’s phones charge at 9W, and other Android phones support up to 10W. So while chargers that output less will charge your phone, they won’t do so quite as fast. You’ll probably want to get a 10W charger to make sure that you’ve covered no matter what phone you buy.
Standard connector: Most wireless charging pads plug in to an adapter of some kind to actually connect to a wall outlet. Some companies use weird proprietary jacks to plug in the pads, and others use standard ones like MicroUSB or USB-C. If you can, it’s probably better to go with a standard connector, just in case you damage or lose the cable.
Wall adapter: By the same vein, check to see if your charging pad actually comes with a wall adapter. If you’re expected to provide your own, make sure that it can provide enough wattage to charge at full speed — a 10W pad with a 5W wall jack will only charge at 5W.
Brand: A wireless charging pad is still a charger, and when it comes to anything that passes electrical current through your $699–$999 smartphone, you’ll want to be extra sure that nothing is going to get accidentally fried. When in doubt, stick to brands with a good reputation for charging gear, like Anker, RavPower, Mophie, Belkin, or Samsung, to name a few.
Size and aesthetics: There are a bunch of styles of wireless chargers, some big, some small, some flat, and some that charge your phone at an angle. Buying for a desk? You’ll probably want an angled charger so you can see your screen (and unlock with Face ID, for iPhone users). Want one for your nightstand? Consider a flat pad so you don’t light up your whole room every time you get a text. There’s also convertible chargers, if you’d prefer the flexibility.
Personal style: Wireless chargers come in all sorts of weird shapes and sizes — like this picture frame! Or this leather pad! Get something you like: it’ll be living on your desk/nightstand for a while.
Update September 15th 2017, 3:50pm: Clarified safety concerns for 15W chargers.
Update February 5th, 2019, 10:00am: Updated article to include a wider range of phones and buying advice for 2019, as well as added video.