There are a ton of wireless chargers on the market at a ton of different price points. My colleague Chaim Gartenberg just surveyed the field and has identified the best one for most people: the RavPower Fast Charge Wireless Charging Pad. It strikes the right balance of price, convenience, and charging speed. It also grips the phone enough so it doesn’t vibrate off the darn thing when you get a million notifications.
He’s not wrong, but the one that I love the most is different. For the iPhone, my favorite wireless charging pad is made by a company that has been doing wireless charging way longer than Apple: Samsung.
Specifically, I like the Samsung Fast Charge Wireless Charging Convertible Stand W/ AFC Wall Charger. It retails for $89.99, but gets marked down pretty much everywhere all the time. Samsung currently sells it for 60 bucks or so, and Amazon has it for about $50.
Why do I love this charger? Let me count the ways:
- It comes with a power brick that has enough wattage to fast charge an iPhone (or, yes, a Galaxy phone).
- It charges via a USB-C plug, which means I can use it with a lot of the equipment I already have for charging my laptop, especially when I travel. (See, however, the list of Cons below: USB-C is a crapshoot sometimes.)
- It has a “leather-like” material on the top, which, I know, sounds like a disaster. But in practice it’s grippy and looks pretty good. It’s also easy to wipe clean.
- It converts from a pad to an angle, so you can use it flat or standing on your desk or nightstand. It’s also easier to travel with since it folds down into a smaller package.
I want to harp on the angle thing for a minute. One of the problems with flat pads is that your phone can vibrate itself right off of them — or at least off the “sweet spot” center where you get the best (or any) wireless charge. With an angled pad, the raw physics of how the phone sits there makes that less likely.
For the iPhone X, using a charging pad that holds your phone up at an angle is important for another reason: notifications. When notifications come in, you want to see them on your lock screen. By default, iOS on the iPhone X keeps those notifications private until Face ID can identify you. So if the iPhone is sitting flat on your desk, you have to crane your face over to see them. Annoying.
Not so with an angled charging pad! When I get a notification on my iPhone X, I just sort of look over at the iPhone and watch them magically appear. It’s just so much better than a flat pad that I’m frankly mystified that Apple hasn’t been recommending an angled charger more strenuously.
There are problems with Samsung’s pad, however:
- It has a big, dumb fan that turns on sometimes.
- It has that USB-C charging plug, which means if you swap out or lose Samsung’s included adapter, you’re slightly more likely to find yourself plugging in some badly made, unsafe replacement, which might not have enough juice to quick charge, either.
- It has the hallmark of shitty electronics everywhere: a blue LED charging indicator. It is perfectly positioned to shine right into your eyes — through your eyelids — when you use it on your nightstand. (Get some black nail polish.)
Gartenberg tells me that, really, “once you clear the 10W charging spec, it’s all personal form factor decisions” with these things. Samsung specs this pad at 9W, which is plenty good and already better than Apple’s max spec of 7.5W. (And technically Apple’s won’t enable that level of charge until iOS 11.2 comes out.) But whatever, I love it anyway. It puts the phone at an angle, it travels easily, and it doesn’t look like a cheap hunk of plastic.
Since magnets aren’t really a good option for holding phones securely at an angle anymore (RIP Palm Touchstone, the OG wireless charging pad), for me the Samsung pad is the next best thing.