We’ve got the power: 9 wireless chargers tested
Wireless chargers promise easy power boosts to your compatible smartphone, but how well do they deliver the power you crave?
Wireless charging isn't a new phenomenon. Plenty of smartphones that have come out in the past few years support either (or both) of the wireless charging standards. Still, it's a category that has exploded since Apple introduced Qi-compatible wireless charging for the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. Naturally, that's a feature that hasn't been removed for its newer phones, so it's also available for the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
Most of the wireless chargers you'll see in the Australian market tend to be Qi-compatible rather than using the PMA standard, and if you're looking to boost the power on your iPhone, that's the standard you need to be looking for.
If you're confused by wireless charging as a concept, our comprehensive wireless charging guide is here for you to check out.
Typical price: $39.95
Most wireless chargers assume you're going to have your phone in a fixed position for a period of time, so they're not particularly portable. Mophie's Charge Stream Pad Mini bucks that trend. Its unique selling point is that it's tiny and easy to throw into your bag for travel purposes.
It's also reasonably affordable for a brand-name wireless charger, although the one catch here is that it's a 5W charging product only, so don't expect fast wireless charging from it. For some larger phones, we also had to shuffle the phone around a bit before hitting the sweet spot for charging.
Mophie also sells a separate Charge Stream travel kit for the Stream Pad Mini, which includes the Charge Stream Mini, wall and car chargers, and cables, but that'll cost you a little more.
Still, if you travel a lot and love the convenience of wireless charging, it's an easy recommendation.
Typical price: $129.95/$149.95
Mophie already has a business in wireless charging as well as in battery packs, so it's almost a logical marriage to bring the two together. The difference between the regular and XL versions of the Charge Stream Powerstation Wireless is in size and battery capacity, with the smaller unit providing 6040mAh to the XL's 10,000mAh. They both charge via USB-C, although that's not a bidirectional port. For wired purposes, you get a USB-A socket, but drop a Qi-enabled phone on the top and it'll start charging automatically.
Wireless charging peaks at 5W, so it's not fast charging at all. One neat feature here is that it will default to charging your device when you place your phone on top of it, and then revert to topping up the battery when there's no device present. That makes it easy to use it as a desk charger and then take it with you to keep your devices topped up.
It's a little more expensive than a standard Qi charger, but you do get a lot more flexibility since the battery packs within the Mophie Charge Stream Powerstation Wireless can charge just about any mobile device, not just wireless ones.
Typical price: $109.95
Mophie's Vent Mount is a combination in-car mount – so you could use it to legally mount your smartphone in place for GPS use in your car – with inbuilt Qi charging. Again, it's only a 5W charging product, with a supplied small and extended vent mount as well as adhesive-mounted straight dash mount to provide for most car types.
Like the Charge Stream Pad Mini, there's a bit of a challenge in getting the positioning right on larger phones to ensure that you get a charge. At 5W output, it's also not a great buy if you're only taking small trips in your car because you really won't top up your phone all that much. If you regularly travel further and need a car mount anyway, it's a perfectly decent option.
Typical price: $99.95
Mophie's well known in the iOS world for its long-running series of battery cases for iPhones. Its charging base is relatively small, although not quite as small as the 3SIXT charger, and that does mean that correct placement is vital.
It'll support charging iPhone devices at up to 7.5W, and even though it's stated as being "optimised" for charging iPhone devices, it uses the Qi standard, so there's really no issue with using it to charge any other compatible device.
Like the Belkin, the biggest strike against the Mophie wireless charging base is its asking price. While fast Qi chargers do command a premium over slower chargers, the Mophie sits in the high position. It's a quality brand, though, which may help sway your decision.
Typical price: $79.95
3SIXT's take on Qi charging incorporates fast charging, as the name suggests, with support for up to 10W charging on Samsung phones, 7.5W for Apple models and 5W for more general Qi-compatible handsets.
It's a smaller charger, which means that it's going to take up less desk space, but that also means you can't just slap your handset down upon it and be certain that it will charge correctly every time.
At its price point, if you want a compact and potentially fast wireless charger, it's well worth considering.
Typical price: $89.95
Laser's "The Hills" Wireless Charging Dock certainly takes the prize for the most unusual shape for a wireless charger. It's basically shaped like a toast rack, although this could lead you to believe that it's a multi-device wireless charger, and that's not the case.
Instead, only the front flat portion is wireless charging capable, with the other "hills" holding up devices that can then be plugged into the four side-mounted USB ports. With everything plugged in, you can hit some pretty serious cable clutter if you're not using very short charging cables.
On the wireless charging front, the position of the charging coil makes correct placement very easy, although it only offers slower 5W charging to all devices.
This is a charger for a very particular niche because you'd really want to have multiple devices that you need to keep topped up for it to make much sense. If that's you, the Laser The Hills Wireless Charging Dock is an easy recommendation.
Typical price: $99.95
Belkin has produced iPhone accessories pretty much for as long as there have been iPhones, so it's no surprise that it has a fast wireless charger available. While the packaging indicates that it's "for iPhone X, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone 8", it's still using the Qi standard, which means that most wireless-capable handsets can take a charge from it.
The Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad is a larger pad, which means it'll take up a little more bedside or desk space, but that also means it's easy to correctly place even larger phones onto it, especially as its charging light sits to the side of any handset placed upon it.
Like the Mophie wireless charging base, Belkin prices the Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad at the higher end of quick chargers, although the style of the pad and the quality of the Belkin brand play in its favour.
Typical price: $129.95
If you own a smartphone, the chances are decent you're probably not in the market for an alarm clock because that's one very easy function of your handset. Laser's approach to its LED alarm clock has pretty much been to throw everything it could think of at it in order to lend it appeal. It is a dual-alarm LED alarm clock with inbuilt FM radio, temperature sensing, Bluetooth and NFC pairing for audio output, auxiliary input if you're the cabled audio type, a microphone to act as a massive speakerphone and three USB charging ports.
Also, it's Qi-compatible for wirelessly charging a single compatible handset. Phew!
Charging is only at 5W, but that's arguably much less of an issue for a device that's so obviously built to sit at your bedside table and charge your handset overnight. Placement for charging is also very obvious and easy to hit with multiple handsets tested.
It almost feels like a missed opportunity that there aren't two Qi ports on the top, as there would easily be space, but this is a minor quibble.
Audio output is fair but not spectacular from the supplied speakers. One notable quirk is that the Laser Qi Wireless Charging Alarm Clock tended to drop Bluetooth connectivity if it was also wirelessly charging at the same time.
Typical price: $119
Google's Pixel Stand is, as the name suggests, designed for Google's Pixel phones, specifically the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3XL. Drop those onto Google's vertically oriented Qi charger and they'll not only charge, but also show slideshows, act as a bedside alarm clock and engage Google Assistant for you. We've given the Google Pixel Stand its own review here because it's a very different concept to other plain Qi chargers.
However, Qi is a standard, and that means if you do put any other Qi-compatible phone on the Pixel Stand, it'll charge just fine. While the largest appeal has to be for Pixel 3 and Pixel 3XL owners, it's a perfectly valid choice for other phone owners if you just happen to like the style.
- Wireless is slower. Even a "fast" wireless charger will be a lot slower charging your smartphone than a cabled connection, especially if your phone supports a fast cable charging standard. If you need to juice your phone up fast, plug it into a wall socket pronto!
- Aim for the middle. Most wireless chargers will have a brand or symbol to show where their charging coils are. For most phones, aim to put the middle of the handset over that symbol, and you'll usually hit the sweet spot the first time.
- You can retrofit wireless charging. Got an older handset with no wireless compatibility? There are plenty of cases that bundle simple 5W Qi wireless charging as a feature, although these will add some bulk to your existing handset and may require a loop through to your regular charging socket to operate.