Best wireless charger UK 2018: The best ways to cut the cord from £17

Do you find feeding the charging cable into your phone a fiddly experience? If so, and your phone supports it, you could cut the cord completely and invest in a wireless charger.

The question of which to get is (mostly) much of a muchness, in the same way as deciding which regular charger to buy is. Aesthetics and size are the chief concerns, but there are still some which stand out for us that you’ll find below.

First though, here’s a buyer’s guide, with some common questions about wireless chargers answered.

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How to choose the best wireless charger for you

How does wireless charging work?

For you as a user, incredibly simply.

Place your phone on the charger, and hey presto: your phone begins to charge. No wires required.

The actual science is a bit more complex, but basically it uses electromagnetic fields to move power from the pad to the phone based on magnetic resonance.

The wireless charger is plugged into the wall, and the electricity from there is converted into a high-frequency alternating current which creates a magnetic field within the transmitter coil underneath the charging plate.

When a device is put on the pad, the magnetic field spreads to the device’s receiver coil, where energy is converted into a direct current which flows into the battery charging it.

(If that was all over your head, just go with the simpler answer: magic.)

Is wireless charging fast as using a wired plug?

No. If speed is important to you, then you’re better off using a wired fast charger.

Wireless charging is all about the convenience, rather than the efficiency.

How much faster depends on the type you’re comparing: a fast wired charger beats everything hands down, though. The Samsung Galaxy S9, for example, will charge from flat to 100% on the enclosed fast charger in around 1hr 40mins. The 9W Samsung official wireless charger will take another 50 minutes or so.

Theoretically, a higher wattage would charge it faster, but not according to Android Central’s tests.

It’s a similar story for iPhone over at Birchtree, in case you’re wondering. In two hours, the stock charger got an iPhone 8 Plus to 80% battery, while the wireless charger lagged behind on the 40% mark.

Look out for wireless chargers that support “fast charging” mode on Samsung or Apple handsets, though. While it won’t be as fast as using a wire, you’ll still see a serious improvement.

Do wireless chargers charge phones at different speeds?

Yes, although as the Android Central test above shows this isn’t always the case.

Anyway, the Qi 1.2 standard supports charging speeds of up to 15 watts, but you’ll find chargers of 5, 7.5, 9 and 12 watts as well. As a rule of thumb, the higher the number, the faster the charge – if your phone supports the speed – as of iOS 11.2, supported iPhones charge at 7.5W max.

Pad or stand?

From a speed point of view, there’s no difference. It’s purely down to aesthetic preference.

However, there is one advantage that stands have. Because there’s more flexibility of how you place a phone on a pad, getting it into contact so that it charges can be a frustrating fight of trial and error. With a stand, theoretically, there should only be one position available and things should lock on right away.

Does my phone support wireless charging?

Wireless charging is one of those strange features that isn’t guaranteed even on the most expensive flagship phones.

The Huawei P20 Pro doesn’t have it, for example, even though it would set you back the best part of GBP800 on release. That said, all iPhones from the 8 onwards have it, and Samsung’s Galaxy S series has had the feature since the S6.

The best way of checking for sure is to do an old-fashioned Google search, but if you find it’s missing from the list, all may not be lost. Sometimes you’ll be able to find a case that introduces the technology to your phone, even if it isn’t officially supported.

These aren’t exactly wireless charging as they block the charging port, but the effect is the same.

What happened to Apple’s official wireless charger?

Good question. AirPower was announced during the iPhone X launch as coming in 2018, but with only a few months of the year left is nowhere to be seen. All references of it seem to have been removed from the Apple website, so it may be that it’s been quietly killed off after various setbacks.

The good news is that as Apple uses the same Qi wireless charging standards as everyone else, any of the chargers below will do the job.

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The best wireless chargers you can buy in 2018

1.

RAVPower Charging Stand: The best cheap wireless charger

Price: GBP17 | Buy now from Amazon

RAVPower sells a number of devices, but the charging stand is the pick for us. Not only does it pack a quite respectable output of 10W, but its clever design lets you charge the phone in landscape or portrait mode. In other words, you can keep watching Netflix and charge your handset at the same time.

One word of warning, though: the device only offers the 10W output for recent Samsung Galaxy handsets, and says that iPhones only get “up to 5W”.

Key specs – Type: Stand; Wattage: 10W (5W for iPhone); Devices charged at a time: 1

2. Belkin Boost Up 15W: The best wireless charger for fast charging

Price: GBP60 | Buy now from Amazon

Best wireless charger UK 2018: The best ways to cut the cord from £17

Qi charging standards theoretically go up to 15W, but practically speaking, not too many wireless chargers (or phones) support it. The Belkin Boost Up is one device that does.

You’ll pay a premium for it, but you have the satisfaction of being a little more future-proofed for the money.

It also looks pretty stylish, has a couple of useful safety features in place and has a fanless design, making it completely quiet. Expensive, yes, but a great all-rounder. Key specs – Type: Pad; Wattage: 15W; Devices charged at a time: 1

3.

Samsung Wireless Charger Duo: The best for charging phone and watch

Price: GBP80 | Buy now from MobileFun

Best wireless charger UK 2018: The best ways to cut the cord from £17

Wireless charging pads are all very well and good, but what if you want to keep both your phone and smartwatch topped up at the same time? Samsung has the answer with the Wireless Charger Duo.

Each pad has 12W of power, and support fast charging, although you may want to turn this off if you keep it in the bedroom as the fans can get a touch loud. It’s also bulky so won’t be for everyone.

And just because it says it’s for a phone and watch, there’s nothing to stop you mixing and matching: you can charge a couple of phones on this if you want.

Key specs – Type: Stand and pad; Wattage: 12W per pad; Devices charged at a time: 2

4.

Ikea Riggad LED work lamp: The best wireless charging furniture

Price: GBP60 | Buy now from Ikea

Best wireless charger UK 2018: The best ways to cut the cord from £17

If you like your wireless charger to blend into the background and offer a bit more functionality at the same time, the Ikea Riggad lamp is the answer. It’ll look great by the bedside or on your work desk, and charge your phone at the same time.

Okay, at 5W it’s going to take a while, but it also lets you charge a second device via the USB port at the same time, which is handy.

Key specs – Type: Lamp; Wattage: 5W; Devices charged at a time: 2 (one via USB)

5. Ikea Nordmarke: The best wireless charger for multiple devices

Price: GBP60 | Buy now from Ikea

Best wireless charger UK 2018: The best ways to cut the cord from £17

Sticking with Ikea, this is our pick of wireless chargers if you have multiple supported devices.

There are three wireless charging pads and a spare USB port to charge a fourth.

Okay, so they’re not the fastest chargers at just 5W per pad, but it’s hard to argue with its multitasking ability, and it looks stylish in an understated way too.

Key specs – Type: Pad; Wattage: 5W per pad; Devices charged at a time: 4 (one via USB)

6. Pixel Stand: The best wireless charger for Pixel 3 owners

Price: GBP69 | Buy now from Google

Best wireless charger UK 2018: The best ways to cut the cord from £17

Why are we keeping a space on this list for one brand of phone? Because the Pixel Stand is very much what we hope the future of wireless chargers looks like.

Yes, you need a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL to get the most out of it, but if you have one, the stand turns your phone into a Google Home Hub, blasting out Google Assistant, streaming live video from your Nest doorbell and even filling your room with a gradual yellow light shift to match your sleeping patterns and help you wake up naturally.

If you want to make the most of your Pixel 3, there’s simply no contest.
Key specs – Type: Stand; Wattage: 10W; Devices charged at a time: 1

7. ESR Ultra-Slim Wireless Charger: The best thin wireless charger

Price: GBP33 | Buy now from Amazon

Best wireless charger UK 2018: The best ways to cut the cord from £17

If you want slim, it’s hard to argue with ESR’s device. It’s just 6mm thick, giving it next to no footprint at all.

If you have a recent flagship Samsung phone, it’ll kick into 10W fast charging mode as well, although it’s bog-standard 5W territory for everything else including iPhones.

Still, as minimalist chargers go, it’s hard to beat.

And rather neatly it won’t keep you awake at night, as the LED indicator light automatically flicks off after 60 seconds.

Key specs – Type: Pad; Wattage: 10W; Devices charged at a time: 1

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