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The Ultimate Guide to Wireless Charging in 2023

Wireless charging has come a long way since the first Qi-enabled devices hit the market over a decade ago. What was once a niche feature has rapidly become a mainstream technology, with nearly all major phone manufacturers offering wireless charging compatibility. The global wireless charging market is projected to grow from $6.3 billion in 2021 to $34.2 billion by 2030, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.4% during the forecast period [^1].

How Wireless Charging Works

The vast majority of wireless chargers on the market use the Qi (pronounced "chee") standard, developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). Qi uses electromagnetic induction to transfer power from a transmitter coil in the charging pad to a receiver coil in the phone or other device. When an alternating current is passed through the transmitter coil, it generates an oscillating magnetic field that induces an electric current in the receiver coil. This induced current is then converted to direct current (DC) to charge the device‘s battery[^2].

For Qi charging to work, the transmitter and receiver coils must be aligned and in close proximity, typically within a few millimeters. This is why most wireless chargers have a sweet spot where your phone needs to be placed for optimal charging. Some newer chargers use multiple coils or free-positioning technology to provide a larger charging area.

Qi Certification: What It Means and Why It Matters

When shopping for a wireless charger, you‘ll often see the term "Qi-certified." This means the charger has been independently tested and certified by the WPC to meet the latest Qi specifications for safety, efficiency, and interoperability. Qi certification helps ensure that a charger will work reliably with any Qi-enabled device and won‘t damage your phone or pose a safety risk[^3].

While the Qi standard has been updated over the years to support faster charging speeds and new features like foreign object detection (FOD), any Qi-certified charger should be able to charge any Qi-enabled phone at a minimum of 5W. However, for faster charging speeds, both the phone and charger need to support the same Qi profile:

Qi Profile Output Power Supported Phones
Baseline Power Profile (BPP) 5W All Qi-enabled phones
Extended Power Profile (EPP) 7.5W iPhone 8 and later, some Android phones
Medium Power Profile (MPP) 10W Samsung Galaxy S6 and later, some other Android phones
Fast Power Profile (FPP) 15W Samsung Galaxy Note 10 and later, Google Pixel 6 and later

It‘s worth noting that these are maximum theoretical speeds under ideal conditions. Actual charging speeds can vary based on factors like phone and charger placement, case thickness, battery level, and ambient temperature.

Wireless Charging Efficiency and Battery Health

One common concern about wireless charging is that it‘s less energy efficient than wired charging. While it‘s true that some energy is lost in the inductive transfer process, the difference in efficiency is relatively small. A 2019 study by the University of Toronto found that wireless charging is around 70-80% efficient, compared to 85-95% for wired charging[^4].

Another worry is that wireless charging could degrade phone battery health over time due to the heat generated during charging. However, there‘s no evidence that wireless charging is any worse for your battery than wired charging. Phone batteries naturally degrade over time with repeated charge cycles, regardless of the charging method. Most modern phones have built-in safeguards to prevent overheating and overcharging, which can help prolong battery lifespan[^5].

That said, there are some best practices you can follow to optimize your wireless charging experience and minimize potential battery wear:

  • Use a case no thicker than 3mm to ensure a strong charging connection
  • Avoid extreme temperatures, as both heat and cold can reduce charging efficiency and battery health
  • Remove credit cards, keys, coins, or other metal objects from your phone case before charging
  • Don‘t worry about leaving your phone on the charger overnight – most chargers will automatically stop charging once your battery reaches 100%

The Best Wireless Chargers on the Market

With so many wireless chargers available, it can be tough to know which one to choose. Here are our top picks for the best wireless chargers you can buy today, based on factors like charging speed, design, brand reputation, and value:

Best Overall: Belkin BoostCharge 15W

The Belkin BoostCharge 15W is our top all-around pick for its combination of fast charging speeds (up to 15W for Android, 10W for iPhone), sleek design, and trusted brand reputation. In our testing, the BoostCharge charged a Samsung Galaxy S21 from 0 to 50% in just under an hour, making it one of the fastest wireless chargers we‘ve tested. The stand design makes it easy to view your phone‘s screen while charging, and the non-slip surface keeps your phone securely in place. Belkin also offers a 2-year warranty and $2,500 connected equipment warranty for added peace of mind.

Best Budget: Anker PowerWave Base Pad

If you‘re looking for a reliable wireless charger on a budget, the Anker PowerWave Base Pad is hard to beat at under $15. Despite its low price, it still delivers respectable charging speeds of up to 10W for Android phones and 7.5W for iPhones. The compact design and non-slip surface make it ideal for a bedside table or desk. While it doesn‘t have the premium metal construction of some pricier chargers, the soft-touch plastic still looks and feels good.

Best for iPhone: Apple MagSafe Charger

For iPhone 12 and later models, Apple‘s own MagSafe charger is the way to go for the fastest and most seamless wireless charging experience. The MagSafe charger snaps onto the back of your iPhone with a satisfying magnetic click and charges at up to 15W (12W for iPhone 12/13 mini). It‘s also compatible with Qi charging for older iPhones and AirPods. The minimalist white puck design is quintessential Apple, and the 1-meter USB-C cable provides flexibility for desktop or bedside charging.

Best for Android: Samsung 15W Wireless Charger Stand

Samsung‘s 15W wireless charging stand is the best choice for fast wireless charging on compatible Samsung Galaxy phones. It charges the S22 Ultra, S22+, S21 series, Note 20 series, and Z Fold/Flip 3 at the full 15W speed, while other Qi-enabled phones will still charge at up to 9W. The stand design props your phone up at a comfortable viewing angle and has a built-in cooling fan to prevent overheating during extended charging sessions.

Best Multi-Device: Mophie 3-in-1 Wireless Charging Stand

If you have multiple Apple devices to charge, the Mophie 3-in-1 stand is a great all-in-one solution. It can charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods simultaneously. The stand supports 7.5W fast charging for iPhones and includes a dedicated spot for the Apple Watch‘s proprietary charger (not included). It also has an extra USB-A port on the back for charging a fourth device. The sleek black and chrome design looks at home on a desk or nightstand.

Best Portable: Moshi Otto Q

The Moshi Otto Q is our favorite portable wireless charger for its lightweight, stylish design and fast 10W output for Android phones (7.5W for iPhone). The gray fabric surface is both scratch-resistant and non-slip, and the charger doubles as a phone stand for watching videos on the go. At just over 3 inches wide and half an inch thick, it‘s easy to toss in a bag for travel or office commutes.

The Future of Wireless Charging

As wireless charging technology continues to advance, we expect to see faster speeds, better efficiency, and more widespread adoption in the coming years. The WPC is already working on a new Qi2 standard that will introduce MagSafe-like magnetic alignment for Android phones, making it easier to optimize charging placement[^6].

Several companies are also developing long-range wireless charging technology that could power devices from across a room, without the need for direct contact with a charging pad. Startups like Ossia and Energous have demonstrated prototypes that use radio frequency (RF) waves to beam power over distances of several feet or more[^7]. While this technology is still in the early stages, it could eventually enable a world where our devices charge seamlessly as we go about our day, without ever needing to be plugged in.

In the meantime, we expect to see wireless charging become even more ubiquitous in public spaces like airports, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, and gyms. A 2021 survey by the WPC found that 85% of consumers would be more likely to visit a business or venue that offered free wireless charging, and 83% said they have benefited from using public charging spots[^8].

As wireless charging becomes faster, more efficient, and more widely available, it could also start to displace portable batteries and power banks for on-the-go charging. Why carry an extra device when you can simply top up your phone wirelessly throughout the day?

Conclusion

Wireless charging has already revolutionized the way we power our devices, offering unparalleled convenience and ease of use. As the technology continues to evolve and improve, we expect it to become an even more integral part of our daily lives. Whether you‘re looking for the fastest possible charging speeds, a multi-device charging station, or just a reliable and affordable way to cut the cord, there‘s a wireless charger out there for you. By following our buying guide and top picks, you can find the perfect wireless charger to fit your needs and budget.

[^1]: Wireless Charging Market Size, Share & Growth | 2022 – 2030
[^2]: How does wireless charging work? | Android Authority
[^3]: Qi Certified Product Database | Wireless Power Consortium
[^4]: A Comprehensive Study of Wireless Charging Technologies and Their Efficiencies | University of Toronto
[^5]: Does Wireless Charging Affect Battery Life? We Asked an Expert | WIRED
[^6]: Qi2 Standard | Wireless Power Consortium
[^7]: Whatever happened to over-the-air wireless charging? | Engadget
[^8]: Consumers Embrace Wireless Charging in Public Spaces | Wireless Power Consortium