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5 Features to Consider Before Buying a Wireless Charger

Aug 06, 2023Aug 06, 2023

Considering a new wireless charger? There are some key features you need to consider.

Wireless charging pads provide a seamless, cordless solution for powering your devices. They aren't for everyone, though. Their value hinges on various factors, from device compatibility to design considerations and more.

The foremost aspect to consider is whether the wireless charger is compatible with your devices. While many contemporary smartphones, including Apple iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones, support the Qi (pronounced "chee") standard, you must cross-check the specs of your devices before making a purchase.

For iPhone users, compatibility goes beyond the Qi standard due to Apple's MagSafe technology. Launched with the iPhone 12 and continued with the iPhone 13 series, MagSafe chargers utilize a unique magnetic alignment feature for faster, more efficient charging. If you're an iPhone 12 or 13 user, look for chargers explicitly labeled as MagSafe compatible to get the most out of your device's capabilities.

Regardless of your device, look for the charger's power output listed in the product specifications. This should match or exceed your device's charging specification. For instance, many phones require a minimum of 5W, while more recent devices may need 10W, 15W, or even 20W. Similarly, check for the wireless charger's frequency. A common standard is 110 to 205 kHz, but some devices require a specific frequency to charge optimally.

To avoid technical jargon, you could just confirm that the wireless charger explicitly mentions your specific device in its list of supported devices. For example, if you have an iPhone 13 Pro, ensure the product description includes "compatible with iPhone 13 Pro." This simple step will assure you that the charger will work effectively with your device.

While wireless charging is generally slower than wired charging, technological advancements have significantly narrowed the gap. Charging speed is typically determined by the power output of the wireless charger, measured in watts (W). The higher the wattage, the faster your device will charge, provided your device supports that output level.

For example, a standard Qi wireless charger might offer 5W charging, which is sufficient for most smartphones. However, a more advanced charger might offer 10W, 15W, or even 20W, charging your device considerably faster. However, the device's maximum charging speed will limit this. If your phone only supports 5W wireless charging, using a wireless charger with a higher power output, such as 20W, won't speed up the process.

Another important factor is the efficiency of the charger. A wireless charger can lose some power as heat, which is a common issue with wireless charging. Chargers with better efficiency ratings lose less power and charge your device faster. Check the product specifications for any mention of efficiency or power loss.

Furthermore, the placement of your device on the charger can affect the charging efficiency. Wireless charging requires precise alignment between the charger and the device for the best results. Some chargers offer built-in alignment tools or guides to help you position your device correctly, ensuring optimal charging. Read customer reviews to determine whether users have experienced frustration with finding the proper alignment on a particular charger before committing to the purchase yourself.

Remember, faster isn't always better. Charging at higher speeds can generate more heat, which can potentially degrade your device's battery health over time. So, it's worth considering a charger that offers adjustable charging speeds, allowing you to slow charge overnight, for instance, to preserve your battery's longevity.

When it comes to wireless chargers, technical specifications aren't everything. Since these devices often occupy visible spaces, such as desks or bedside tables, aesthetics matter. Consider the charger's form, color, and material to ensure it complements your space and other gadgets.

Styles vary, with pads, stands, and multi-device chargers being the most common. Pads are sleek and minimalistic, while stands allow easier screen interaction during charging. Multi-device chargers, such as Apple's 3-in-1 charging stations, are excellent for those with numerous wireless charging devices.

The choice of material—from plastic to metal or even leather—can affect not only the charger's look but its durability and heat dissipation. Finally, LED indicators, foreign object detection, and other features add functional value to a charger's design.

Safety should always be considered when purchasing a wireless charger. Look for chargers with built-in safety features such as temperature control, foreign object detection, and overcharge protection. These product details prevent overheating, so the wireless charger won't damage your smartphone or other devices.

Safety certifications, such as those from CE (Conformité Européene), RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances), and FCC (Federal Communications Commission), add peace of mind as well. Chargers with Qi certification have been tested to ensure they meet the Wireless Power Consortium's safety standards. In contrast, uncertified chargers might not offer the same level of safety and performance.

Another safety feature to consider is the charger's cable and wall adapter. Most chargers include these essential accessories, but some require you to provide your own. Ensure these components are also of high quality and meet safety standards to avoid any potential issues.

Finally, consider your budget and the reputation of the brand. Prices for wireless chargers can vary significantly—from as low as $10 for budget options to more than $100 for premium models with multiple device support, advanced features, and stylish designs.

While you don't necessarily have to splurge on the most expensive model, don't skimp on quality for the sake of saving a few bucks. Cheaper, lesser-known brands may come with compatibility issues or safety concerns. And after a few mornings of waking up to a phone that somehow didn't charge overnight, you'll wish you'd done your homework and ponied up the cash for a more reliable brand.

Renowned brands, such as Anker, Belkin, and Samsung, are generally more reliable, providing quality products that are tested and certified for safety. They may cost a little more, but their products are more likely to give you a better, safer charging experience and last longer.

Wireless charging adds a layer of convenience to our increasingly cordless lives. By understanding device compatibility, charging speed, design, safety features, and price points, you'll be better equipped to decide if a wireless charger aligns with your tech needs. Whether you're just getting acquainted with wireless charging or looking to upgrade your charger, keep these considerations in mind as you explore this burgeoning technology.

Alexandra is a trained Agile product manager, web marketer, and digital copywriter with 10 years of experience discussing web hosting and internet jargon, iOS and Mac products, and wellness topics. She holds a master's degree in Information Technology and is an avid user of smart home products. As a MakeUseOf author, Alexandra loves unpacking online security topics, advocating a healthy remote work-life balance, and introducing readers to the next must-have smart device.