Apple might have been slightly behind the curve in adding wireless charging to the iPhone, but the Qi standard is now common across the current line-up, supported by iPhone XR, iPhone SE, iPhone 11 and all versions of iPhone 12.
For older iPhones it is possible to add a wireless charging receiver that plugs into the Lightning port and tucks away neatly inside the case, though it does render the Lightning port unusable while the phone is charging. We like this Choetech example that costs just £6.99.
Apple’s own AirPower wireless charger never saw the light of day, but any third-party model will work. That said, not all wireless chargers are created equal, and those that are not specifically certified for use with iPhone may not support the phone’s top wireless charging speed of 7.5W. There is also a range of designs, with wireless charging docks, stands and pads to choose between.
And prices range from under a tenner for the basics to well over £100 for multiple-device chargers.
1. ESR Lift Wireless Charging Stand
This low-cost, reliable charger from ESR is great for your desk or bedside table. Unsurprisingly, no wall plug is supplied, but pair it with a 10W adapter and it will fast charge Quick Charge devices as well as your iPhone.
A handy light on the base stays blue when a phone is charging, and flashes red if it’s not lined up properly.
Affordable, simple and effective.
2. Anker PowerWave Pad
Hailing from one of the most reliable names in charging tech, this PowerWave Pad is a disc-shaped charger for your iPhone.
It has a soft-touch matte surface to add grip, so no chance of your iPhone slipping off the pad or the pad itself wiggling around on the table.
It’s compact, light and efficient, with a small LED on the top to show everything is working correctly.
3. Twelve South HiRise Wireless
This handy device from Twelve South can operate as both a wireless charging stand and a wireless charging pad, making it useful for juicing up your iPhone whether or not you’re using it at the same time.
More interestingly, the ability to lay down the charger as a pad means it’s also suitable for charging your AirPods.
Build quality is high, with the stand made from gunmetal chrome and leather. This is a 10W Qi charger that comes with a 1.5m USB-A-to-USB-C cable.
4. Satechi Trio Wireless Charging Pad
Apple’s mythical AirPower was meant to be capable of wirelessly charging three devices (iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods) at the same time, with a single power lead connected to the wireless charger.
While we sit to see if it ever appears, Satechi has launched its own version, the Trio Wireless Charging Pad.
Qi-certified, it features faster-charging technology and smart safety features such as over-temperature protection.
You can simultaneously charge an Apple Watch (up to 2.5W), AirPods with a wireless charging case (up to 5W), and am iPhone (up to 7.5W) even if in a case (up to 5mm).
It’s not a smooth one-plate surface as the AirPower was rumoured to be. Instead, it’s indented for each. Device. LED lights indicate when each starts to charge.
The Trio supports Nightstand Mode for Apple. Watch so you can use it as a bedside alarm clock.
It is compatible with iPhone 11 Pro Max/11 Pro/11, XS Max/XS/XR/X/8 Plus/8, AirPods with wireless charging case, AirPods 2, AirPods Pro, Apple Watch Series 5/4/3/2/1.
5. Choetech Dual Fast Wireless Charger
One of the best alternatives to the distant memory that is AirPower is Choetech’s Dual Fast Wireless Charger. It can support two iPhones (or other Qi-compatible phones) at their full 7.5W.
Considering how much we thought Apple would charge for the AirPower, this Choetech seems devilishly cheap. But this is anything but a cheap product.
With five coils tucked away inside, the charging pad is about the same size as an iPhone 11 Pro Max. It’s sleek in design, with a meshed top surface not unlike what you’d expect to find on a speaker, which aids grip.
There’s also a subtle LED to signal operation on the front edge, rubber strips to hold it to the desk and vents to aid heat dissipation.
For a simpler and cheaper alternative, consider the Choetech Wireless Charger.
6. SanDisk iXpand Wireless Charger
Pricier than many of the wireless chargers in our round-up, this SanDisk iXpand does a lot more than charge your iPhone without wires. With either 128- or 256GB of built-in storage, you can also use it as a backup drive for media and contacts.
We love the simplicity of the iXpand: having paired the device with your phone and connected it to Wi-Fi via the free companion app, backing up will happen in the background when you place your handset on the pad for charging. You can view progress of backups and charging in the app.
Using the app you can create additional user accounts, allowing you to back up multiple Qi-compatible devices. These don’t have to be iPhones – Android phones are also supported, which explains the 10W output (iPhones max out at 7.5W). A Micro-USB port also simplifies transferring backed up media to a PC or Mac.
With a very clean white design, the iXpand is necessarily large to allow for the built-in storage. A rubber base prevents it from slipping on a desk or table.
7. Native Union Dock
The Native Union Dock lets you charge compatible iPhones standing up rather than flat on a surface, which is handy if you want to glance at notifications or even use Face ID without picking up the phone. (If flat charging is more your thing, consider the company’s smart and grippy Drop charger instead.)
It offers up to 10W fast charging speeds but only comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable, so you’ll have to use your own plug or fork out for a larger power supply if you want 10W. But it’s the most premium wireless charger we’ve used and it works excellently, with a nice fabric texture to the unit and the power cable.
Perfect for desk or bedside table.
8. Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand 10W
Another model in the Belkin Boost Up line, this Wireless Charging Stand is arguably more practical as it allows you to continue using your iPhone as it charges. You can place your iPhone in an upright or horizontal position, and the cradle is wide enough to support all models. It’s sturdy too, so there’s no fear of your iPhone toppling over as you’re tapping away.
Belkin’s Boost Up products are certified for Apple use, so a top wireless charging speed of 7.5W is guaranteed. However, it also works with other Qi-compatible phones and can deliver up to 10W. We also like the three-year warranty, and the fact a mains adaptor is included in the box.
9. Mophie Wireless Charging Base
Mophie’s Wireless Charging Base is a simple black disk capable of charging the new iPhone 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, as well as older models including iPhone 8, XR and XS/XS Max.
The charging indicator is a small light that shines downward on to the surface of whatever you’ve rested it on, which we expect could be a bit tricky to spot but at least it can’t get covered up by the phone itself, unlike the Belkin charger.
AirUnleashed is a solid alternative to AirPower for those who need to charge up an iPhone, Apple Watch and set of AirPods at the same time.
The bottom is a beige suede-like microfibre that keeps it nicely stable; the top is pure white leather with silver crosses to indicate where to place your iPhone and AirPods and a round magnet for your watch. Charging an Apple Watch on a flat surface is a little awkward (if you don’t get the contact quite right it continually cycles through the charging animation) but the magnet makes it manageable.
The look is consciously Apple-lite (it’s 188 x 105mm and roughly 10mm thick), but like so many imitators before them the makers fall short of Cupertino’s minimalist perfectionism. There’s an ugly flap/seam around the edge, and the pristine white top surface became a little grubby with use.
But these are minor aesthetic quibbles, and AirUnleashed gets the job done, offering 7.5W, 2W and 5W respectively on the three points, and a maximum of 10W fast charge if you’ve got a compatible device. In an hour of charging, it simultaneously took an empty iPhone 11 Pro to 28%, an Apple Watch Series 3 to 70% and an early-2019 AirPods case to 41%.
Note, however, that not all Apple Watches will be compatible; in initial tests our Series 4 didn’t charge at all. The company assures us that this is a rare fault that applies to individual watches rather than entire lines, that it offers quibble-free refunds to anyone who experiences this problem, and that it is hopeful that watchOS updates may solve it anyway.
A final note: AirUnleashed doesn’t come with a plug – its power cable ends in a USB socket, for which you have to supply the adapter. You can buy one from the company for $19, or just use your iPad adapter. (An iPhone adapter is not powerful enough.)
11. Moshi Symbus Q
If all you want is a wireless charger, then the Moshi Symbus Q is overkill – you can get one for a lot cheaper than this.
But what makes the Symbus Q interesting is that it doubles as a USB-C dock, making it ideal if you want to expand the functionality of a modern MacBook while keeping your iPhone topped up.
The charge base is coated in a soft fabric with rubber ribbing to prevent slippage, and supports speeds up to 15W – faster than the current iPhone top speed, so there’s plenty of future-proofing here.
Beyond that, you get two USB-A ports, HDMI, and ethernet, and it will double as your MacBook charger too.
How much power do I need?
With iOS 11.2 Apple raised the top wireless charging speed of its iPhones from 5W to 7.5W. To this day no iPhone will wirelessly charge faster, so you might think there is no need to buy a wireless charger that can accommodate a higher output.
That would be to assume Apple is stopping at 7.5W, however. With some Android phones now capable of 30W wireless charging, we can’t see Apple waiting too long to raise the bar. Buying a faster model now will afford you some future-proofing, but be sure to look for an Apple-certified model.
Do note that most wireless chargers are not sold with a wall plug, and that wireless power doesn’t come from thin air. In order to deliver a 7.5W output there must be at least 7.5W of power going into the other end, so you’ll need a matching USB adaptor. Apple’s own 30W USB-C adaptor is more than ample.
Some chargers offer to power up multiple devices at once: the classic triple threat is one that charges an iPhone, AirPods case and Apple Watch at once, as was the intention with AirPower.
This is extremely convenient in theory, but quite demanding in technical terms, and you will find they are slower at charging than a singe-use charger. The AirUnleashed and Satechi Trio are decent options, but others we’ve tried were too slow to recommend.
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