- What is wireless charging?
- How does wireless charging work?
- Which phones are compatible with wireless charging?
- Where can you get wireless charging pads?
- Pros and cons of wireless charging
- Is wireless charging right for you?
Wireless charging (sometimes called inductive charging) isn’t new, exactly - it’s been around for a while, but you may not have really noticed it before. For example, your electric toothbrush charges wirelessly, as it stands on a dock that’s only plugged into a socket. The term ‘wireless’ is a little misleading though, as there is a wire connected from the charging pad to the mains. It just eliminates the need for a cable dragging along the floor, or being tangled with other devices.
Many household brands, like Apple and Samsung, have adopted Qi (“chee”) wireless charging as an alternative way of recharging your smartphone. Qi wireless is the standard specification that is compatible on most phones, so you can charge your phone on any standard wireless pad, be it in your home, at a friend’s, a cafe, or any other location.
Wireless charging is based on inductive charging technology. An electric current runs through a coil in the wireless charging pad and creates power through an electromagnetic field. This power is then received by the smartphone placed on top, and converted into a direct current to charge your battery.
Many wireless pads have a charging radius of 4cm, so you don’t have to worry about placing your smartphone directly in the centre, it just needs to be somewhere on the pad. Saying this, if not placed properly you might not utilise the full charging current, but this depends on the quality of the charging pad.
There are four strengths of pads available to purchase, these being 5W (watts), 7.5W, 10W and 15W. The higher the wattage, the more powerful the electricity, and the faster the charge. A 30W standard charge is becoming available too.
Apple have released a new form of wireless charging with their MagSafe technology, which improves the Qi standard already in place. It uses magnets to perfectly align the iPhone to a MagSafe charging pad and benefits from 15W of power transmission. The catch is that normal Qi wireless chargers don’t work with new iPhones, meaning you’ll have to buy a MagSafe charger. With this development, Apple hopes to eliminate cable ports from phones and move exclusively to wireless charging.
Portable chargers are another method of charging (almost) wirelessly, as they only require you to charge up the powerpack before use, and simply plug your smartphone into them to recharge.
Many manufacturers sell smartphones that are compatible with Qi wireless charging nowadays, and any new device being released most likely has this capability on it. Some familiar brand names that support wireless charging include:
- iPhones: 8 and 8 Plus, X, XR, XS and XS Max, the 11 range, and the 12 range
- Samsung: Galaxy S20 range, Note 10 and Note 10+, S10 range, Note 9, Note 8, Note 5, S9 and S9+, S8 and S8+, S7, and more
- Huawei: Mate 40 Pro+, P30 Pro, Mate 20 Pro, Honor 30 Pro+, P40 Pro, and more
- Google: All Pixel phones
- Nokia: Nokia 6, Nokia 8 Sirocco, Nokia 9 PureView
- Sony Xperia: XZ3, XZ2, XZ2 Premium, Z4V, and more
- LG: G7 ThinQ, V35 ThinQ, G8 ThinQ, G8x ThinQ, v30, G7 ThinQ, and more
- Xiaomi: Mi 9 range, Mi 10 range, Mi Mix 3, and more
Even if your smartphone doesn’t have wireless charging built in, you can still opt to charge it wirelessly by buying a wireless charging back cover, or a wireless charging adaptor.
Smartphones that are compatible with Qi charging don’t come with wireless pads or mats - you have to purchase them separately. We have some recommendations from the likes of Anker, Moshi, Belkin, Aircharge, and Apple, though you can get a wireless charging pad from most places online or in store. IKEA also has built-in Qi wireless charging in some of their furniture, like tables and lamps.
Take a look at our online shop for a Blackweb wireless pad or stand from just £10 - £20.
For Apple owners, it’s important to note that the Apple Watch can only be charged wirelessly on Apple’s own pads, such as the multi-device AirPower charger, but their smartphones and AirPods are compatible with most Qi standard chargers.
Wireless charging in your car
You can also access wireless charging in your car for charging while travelling. This is only supported by certain manufacturers, but it’s becoming increasingly common in new models. You can find wireless charging in certain Audi, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Peugeot, Volvo, Honda, and Toyota vehicles.
✔Safer to charge your phone wirelessly - less chance of electricals getting hot or tripping over cables on the floor
✔Easy to use - just drop your phone on top of the pad and wait for it to recharge
✔As popularity increases, wireless charging will become available in public spaces, so even if you forget your charger on a day out, you can still recharge your smartphone
✘Not all phones are compatible with Qi wireless charging
✘Phones that can charge wirelessly need a glass back, which is typically less durable
✘In most cases, you can’t use the phone whilst it’s charging, unless you have a MagSafe charger or vertical stand
✘Charging is usually slower, and can be made even more so if the phone shifts position or isn’t properly aligned within the electrical current
✘Higher manufacturing costs in producing wireless chargers means they’re more expensive to buy - for example, an Apple MagSafe charger costs £39
If you have a phone capable of charging wirelessly, but don’t know if it’s worth it, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I use my phone when it’s on charge?
- Do I often forget to take my charger with me?
- Do I already have tangled cables on the floor?
- Do I mind having wires?
If cables aren’t your friend, you may want to invest in the more compact style of wireless charging. If you don’t mind, you may not need to spend the money. You might simply want to consider a phone with a big battery, it will last a lot longer between charges, meaning less frustration with cables. You can also make your current phone battery last a lot longer through smart use.
More and more manufacturers are releasing smartphones that are moving towards solely wireless charging, with Apple’s MagSafe set to remove the Lightning port altogether one day.
The future is wireless - but it’s up to you to decide if that’s what you want for your smartphone.