Wireless charging is now fairly standard among flagship phones, though some phone manufacturers still leave it out the spec in favour of a cheaper price. You'll also find smartwatches and earbuds that charge over a wireless connection.
The technology adds convenience by allowing you to throw down your phone or other gadget on to a pad to charge, without having to worry about fiddling around with cables - or indeed carrying multiple cables. With the USB-C charging port increasingly doubling-up as an audio input, you can carry on listening to music at the same time.
By far the most common wireless charging standard is Qi (pronounced 'Chee'). Pretty much all gadgets that support wireless charging support Qi, but at varying speeds.
Does my phone support wireless charging?
Although wireless charging is now popular among flagship phones, don't assume that your phone supports wireless charging without checking the spec. OnePlus, for example, is notable for not adding the technology to any of its range. Check the specification for your model.
It is possible to add wireless charging to any phone, of course, you simply need a wireless charging receiver with the correct connection for your charging port. Try these £10.99 wireless cards from Nillkin with versions for USB-C and Micro-USB. They connect via the charging port and sit neatly behind the phone within its case.
What speed wireless charger do I need?
The cheapest wireless chargers are often the slowest, and many come with a 5W output, which is akin to the wired chargers that came bundled with phones several years back. If you're leaving it plugged in overnight then you will wake to a fully charged phone, though routinely charging your phone to 100% is not great for battery health, and if you're in a rush then a wired connection is going to be faster and more convenient, given a faster adaptor. (We've rounded up some of the best wired chargers for your phone.)
Apple's current line-up supports 7.5W wireless charging with certified products (reduced to 5W with some third-party wireless charging pads under iOS 13.1). This is a slight improvement over the initial 5W, but for the fastest wireless charging speeds you should look to Android.
Xiaomi's Mi 9 Pro, for example, supports up to 30W wireless charging, while the Huawei Mate 30 has 27W and Samsung's latest Galaxy Note 10 has 15W. Reverse wireless charging is also a thing for these phones, allowing you to wirelessly charge over compatible gadgets from the phone itself, but you don't need a wireless charging pad for that.
Generally speaking it is better to buy a wireless charger that is faster than you need for some level of future-proofing. Your phone will draw only the power it needs. Should you buy a slower wireless charger then your device will still charge, but you will be hanging around waiting for it longer than you need to be.
It's worth pointing out that the speed of the wireless charging pad is only half the story. Wireless chargers don't draw power from thin air - they must be plugged into the mains via a USB adaptor. If that is a 5W adaptor then your 10W wireless charging pad is going to be able to deliver only half its maximum output. The fastest wireless charging speed you will be able to receive is that of whichever is the weakest link in your setup.
Should I buy a wireless pad or stand?
That's really down to personal preference. With your phone charging in a stand it is easier to carry on using it as it charges, but a pad is smaller and usually cheaper, and it will be easier to use when charging wireless earbuds and smartwatches.
Sometimes you will find wireless charging stands build in multiple coils for charging, which allow you to throw down the phone at any angle and charging will begin. The same is true of some of the more recent (and significantly more expensive) wireless charging pads, though these are designed for charging multiple devices at once. Apple's AirPower never became a reality, but third-party alternatives did.
Do I need to remove my phone case before charging?
That depends on the case. The Qi standard can operate at distances of up to 4cm, though tough hard-shell cases can cause an obstruction. Most phones will wirelessly charge just fine through a slimmer or softer case.
That said, when you charge your phone it generates heat. When your phone is in its case it is like it is wearing a winter coat, and if that jacket prevents heat dissipation then things are going to get hotter still. Your phone should have effective safeguards built-in to prevent it overheating, but you should still apply some common sense.
This is also true of wired charging, of course, and it is recommended that you remove the case whenever you charge your phone. However, the reality is most people will not be bothered, and in most cases your phone will charge just fine with the case in place.
We've put together a range of articles to help you choose the best charging tech for the mobile devices you carry everywhere. You'll also like:
- For charging away from home: Power banks for phones & tablets | Power banks for laptops | Travel adaptors
- Best Wall & Desktop Chargers: For phones & tablets | For laptops
- For convenience: Best wireless chargers
- Best charging cables: Micro-USB | USB-C | Lightning
1. ESR Lift Wireless Charging Stand
This affordable reliable charger from ESR is great for your desk or bedside table. It doesn't come with a wall plug, but pair the USB-C cable with a 10W charging brick and it can fast charge QuickCharge 2.0 and 3.0 devices.
It also works with 7.5W and 5W bricks, so any Qi compatible phone will work - all glass backed iPhones and Galaxy S phones. A handy light on the basis stays blue when a phone is charging, and flashes red if it's not lined up properly.
Affordable, simple and effective.
2. Dodocool Fast Wireless Charger
You cannot go wrong at £13.99 for this 10W wireless charger from Dodocool. Not only is it fast, but it's the one of the cheapest 'fast' wireless chargers in our round-up - and you wouldn't know it to look at it.
A square-shaped charger with soft rounded corners, the Dodocool is finished in a grippy matt surface with a C-shaped rubber ring that really glues your phone in place.
Charging begins instantly when you place a compatible smartphone on top, and only a small green LED is used to let you know it's working - angle your phone right and there's zero chance this will keep you awake in a darkened room.
Just 69g in weight, and only 10mm thick, this Fast Wireless Charger is an ideal travel companion. Heat is dissipated from the bottom, where four rubber strips hold it steady on a desk.
3. Aukey Graphite 10W Fast Wireless Charger
Fast and relatively cheap, this Aukey Wireless Charger is a 10W model that has scored a red dot award for its design.
Ultra-compact and almost pebble-shaped, with a smooth matt black finish and silver metal outer ring, the Aukey looks infinitely better than some wireless chargers we've seen. A small LED on top lets you know whether it's working as it should. If it's green you're all good.
This thing is tiny, just 87x87x12mm and 128g.
Four little rubber feet on the bottom keep it steady on the desk, while a 1m USB-C cable plugs in unobtrusively at the rear.
All Aukey products come with a 24-month warranty, too, which offers peace of mind.
4. Choetech Dual Fast Wireless Charger
With Apple's AirPower failing to materialise, the Choetech Dual Fast Wireless Charger is an intriguing alternative.
Despite being able to charge two QI-compatible devices at once, thanks to five coils tucked away inside, the Choetech charger is not overly big or cumbersome. It's a sleek device with a black meshed top not unlike that of a speaker, but much slimmer - it's really not that much bigger than many of today's flagship phones.
Indeed, with two smartphones on top there isn't much space to play around with how they are positioned, but with just one phone to charge you'll find you can throw it down at any angle for the ultimate convenience.
The design is minimal, but functional. A small LED at the front lets you know it's operating without lighting up the room, and you'll find vents at the bottom to help dissipate heat. Also here are rubber strips to help grip on a flat surface.
The Choetech Wireless Charger also comes with an 18-month warranty for peace of mind.
5. Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charger
If you want a fast wireless charger then Belkin is on hand with its range of Boost Up pads.
While some are 7.5- or even 5W, the Boost Up charger is 15W giving you a much quicker wireless charging time. Just make sure your device also supports fast charging over wireless to get the full benefit.
This model is for Samsung phones but it uses Qi technology so you can charge other devices like iPhone on it, too - just at a lower power than 15W.
The pad itself features an LED, soft surface to avoid scratches and will even work with a case on your phone (up to 3mm). It's also wide and stable, plus the embossed ring indicated the charging area.
6. Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand 10W
From the same line of products as the above Boost Up wireless charging pad, this 10W wireless charging stand from Belkin is not quite as fast but has the handy advantage of allowing you to continue using your phone as it charges.
The width of the cradle is fixed, but wide enough to house any smartphone. It's also reasonably low, making it just as easy to lay your phone down horizontally as it is standing upright.
The dock itself is very sturdy, thanks to a generous footprint, though the device itself is not too large. It has a very simple but functional matte black plastic design.
A small white LED lets you know the charger is functioning correctly, but pleasingly is hidden out of way at the top of the dock.
Certified for Apple and Samsung Fast Charge, the Belkin might be a bit pricier than some but you can be assured it will deliver optimum charging speeds, and there is a wired adaptor in the box. It is also backed with a three-year warranty.
7. Anker PowerWave 7.5W Pad
Anker is one of the best known names in affordable charging tech, but this Qi wireless charger is a tad more expensive than some of the other examples in our list. Why is that?
One of the things that really appeals to us about this wireless charger is it caters to everyone, and can really ramp up the speed when you're in a rush.
It supports 7.5W wireless charging for the latest iPhones, but can also accommodate the faster 10W charging of some Android phones such as those from Samsung. If that's still not enough, the bundled charger (itself not always a given) is a Quick Charge 3.0 model that will in a short space of time boost your mobile power significantly.
You might think wireless charging pads are all more or less the same, bar the amount of power they can direct to your phone. This Anker is better designed than most, however, with a fan in its base that ensures it will never overheat no matter how long you leave your phone to charge.
It also has a matte surface that will stop your phone accidentally getting knocked off its surface, and a small LED activity light that won't be obtrusive at night. It can charge through cases up to 5mm.
8. Anker PowerWave 7.5W Stand
The Anker PowerWave 7.5W Stand is in specification identical to the PowerWave Pad you'll have just read about. It has a slightly different upright docking design that makes it more convenient for using your phone while it charges, which accounts for the few pounds extra in cost. Its slimline design is almost exactly the same width as the Galaxy S8 we're testing it with.
It has the same light grey grippy surface, unobtrusive activity LED, and fan built into its base to prevent overheating. And it also ships with a Quick Charge 3.0 USB adaptor for when even the 10W output isn't fast enough.
You should note that both models will work with a standard USB charger, though the LED will flash blue. In order to get the maximum 10W from the stand you must ensure the USB adaptor you use is also capable of delivering 10W.
9. RavPower Fast Wireless Charger
RavPower's Fast Wireless charging pad is much like Anker's above. It's a little cheaper, but offers the same 10W power for phones that support it.
For iPhones it will output 7.5W, which means a charge time from empty of about three hours.
It will work only with the included mains adaptor, but that adaptor also happens to support QC 3.0 (again like the Anker) so can supply up to 24W to compatible phones.
There's no fan in it, so it won't annoy you, and we had no problems with it overheating during our testing. A rubber ring helps keep your phone in place, too.
A flashing green light on the base indicates charging is taking place, but it's not too bright or distracting. The pad is supplied with a 1.2m microUSB braided cable.
10. Anker PowerPort Wireless 5 Stand Wireless Charger
Anker's Qi-certified PowerPort Wireless 5 Stand Wireless Charger is less powerful than some, but we found it more responsive with phones in thicker cases.
Although it has a 5W output, Anker claims that it can charge faster than most 5W wireless chargers and can cut 40 minutes off the charging time for an iPhone X (3.5 hours rather than 3.9 hours).
It also works as a stand, which is handy for phones with facial recognition, and lets you see alerts and messages as they flash up on the phone's screen.
It features the same overvoltage protection and temperature control as the 7.5W model above - although it doesn't ship with a power plug, just a MicroUSB cable to plug into a laptop, hub or USB power port.
And it's a little cheaper, too... which is nice.
11. Anker PowerPort Wireless 5 Pad
Another 5W option from Anker that functions as a standard wireless charging pad rather than a stand. The beauty of this design is you can throw your phone down at any angle and charging begins.
Something we particularly like about the Anker is its design. It has a nice rubberised surface that prevents your phone slipping off, and the LED that lets you know charging is in operation is small enough that it won't distract you at night.
It's a bit faster than the dock, and as with that device promises to shave precious minutes (30, to be exact) off the charging time when compared to other wireless pads with the same 5W output. It will also charge through cases up to 5mm in thickness.
12. Choetech Wireless Charger
The cheapest charger in this round-up comes from Choetech, which offers a really simple 5W Qi charger pad for around £10 on Amazon.
It has non-slip grips on the top and bottom to make sure your phone and the pad itself stays in place on your bedside table or on your desk, and there's a small LED on the front to indicate that the phone is charging successfully.
13. Anker Wireless Charging Pad
Also a really affordable option, the 10W Anker Wireless Charging Pad has a nice design with LEDs all the way round to allow you to check whether your phone is charging at a glance.
It's clear to see why this is a bestseller on Amazon, with a good price tag, practical design and fast charging capabilities too.
14. EasyAcc Wireless Charger with Desktop Organizer
At first glance I thought this was a bit of a novelty item, but it's actually quite brilliant.
Rather than have a wireless charger and somewhere to keep your pens, Post-It notes, paper clips and stapler, just combine them into this handy desk organiser that includes a Qi-compatible wireless charging stand.
It also hides the power cable better than most wireless chargers. Love it!
15. Woodpuck Wireless Charger
If you're looking for something that looks less like tech, you might like the 5W WoodPuck: Bamboo Edition charger.
It's a really simple design, made with bamboo rather than a plastic to help it blend in more with your home. It's available in Cappuccino or Espresso colours, and has an affordable price tag, too.
16. Samsung Fast Charging Wireless Stand
The Samsung Wireless Charging Stand will work with more than just Samsung devices, so don't let that put you off if you're planning to use it to charge an iPhone.
Instead of being a charging pad like many of the other products in this round-up, you'll get a stand that allows you to prop up the phone in a viewing position while it charges, perhaps on your desk so that you don't need to pick it up to see notifications.
17. SanDisk iXpand Wireless Charger
This neat wireless charger adds back-up functionality thanks to built-in flash memory.
Choose between 128- or 256GB memory that will allow you to back up your photos and videos at the same time as charging your phone wirelessly.
You can share the iXpand with others, but in order to keep your backups separate, you’ll need to create free accounts within the iXpand Charger app.
128GB might not be enough to back up an entire family’s camera rolls, but it’s a decent capacity for individuals. There’s a micro USB port on the back so you can transfer the backed-up photos and videos to your PC or laptop should the iXpand fill up completely.
The app is necessary for connecting the device to your Wi-Fi network, but it also shows the status of backup and charging, and will also offer to free up space on your phone by deleting everything that has been backed up.
18. HyperDrive 7.5W Wireless Charger USB-C Hub
As its name most definitely makes clear, the HyperDrive 7.5W Wireless Charger USB-C Hub is both a wireless charger and USB-C hub.
As a wireless charger it offers a handy viewing stand, rather than just lying flat on your table, and decent 7.5W charging. It also supports 5/10/15W high-speed Android wireless charging.
But would be expensive as just a charger, and this multi-function device is also an impressive 8-in-1 USB-C charger that turns a single USB-C into eight ports: 4K HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, 3 x USB-3.0, SD Micro SD, and USB-C 100W pass-through Power Delivery.
And it does all that in a highly portable compact and lightweight casing.
19. Moshi Symbus Q USB-C Dock
The Moshi Symbus Q is a similar - if pricier - alternative to the HyperDrive.
Like that, it doubles as both 15W wireless charger and USB-C dock, with two USB-A 3.1 ports, 4K HDMI, Gigabit ethernet, and USB-C 60W pass-through charging for a laptop.
That's slightly less functionality than the HyperDrive, but the Moshi does is all in a premium finish, with a slick aluminium casing, and fabric and rubber finish to the charging base.
It's not cheap, but it looks great, and fits right in with most of Moshi's stuff: premium products at premium prices.