Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you may have noticed that wireless charging has been rapidly increasing in popularity, with figures showing that half a billion smartphones and other devices shipped with wireless power in 2017 alone. The amazing thing is that the technology behind wireless charging – inductive technology – still works in exactly the same way it did back in 2013 when wireless chargers first hit the market.
While there was a lot of hype around wireless chargers after their initial release the market soon stagnated, with many writing them off as just not practical enough to compete with the faster-charging speeds and cheaper prices of wired chargers.
So what changed?
Well, for a start, both the charging speed and the price of many wireless chargers are now competitive with their wired counterparts and this has no doubt played a huge part.
But there is another explanation that warrants this recent surge in popularity – the quality of the products themselves has improved significantly and they now represent some of the best consumer tech gadgets money can buy.
In particular, the unique designs of modern wireless chargers have made them as much of a fashion statement as anything else.
There are of course more practical ways in which these chargers have improved. A big turning point was when manufacturers realised they could integrate Qi charging coils into anything from Car Mounts to bedside radios and this helped bolster the convenience these products provide.
To show you just how stylish and functional these chargers really are I’ve created a list of the Top 5 chargers to look out for in 2018. I’ve tried to keep this entry level by only listing charging pads and stands but just know that there is so much room for flexibility if you’re looking for a charger that’s a bit more… exotic.
Fortunately, I’ve also made a comprehensive guide on how to know what makes a good wireless charger, so if a different type of charger catches your eye you know what to look out for.
But for those of you who want to do even less thinking here’s my list of some of the must-have chargers to look out for in 2018.
In contrast to the black design of their previous wireless charging range, Anker has gone with a much brighter white for the PowerWave series. The pad is covered in a smooth grey TPU matte material that creates a really soft finish that your phone will thank you for.
Without a doubt, this has to be one of the best-looking charging pads I’ve ever seen, but it’s not just a pretty face, the charger also has cutting-edge functionality built-in with “total radiation shielding, over-charge protection, foreign object detection and more” according to Anker’s specification. Not only that but the charger is really well priced at around £35 – get it now from The Wireless Solution.
Belkin have gone back to basics with this latest instalment in their wireless charging line, the BOOST↑UP Bold pad bears resemblance to some of the earliest wireless charging pads with its minimalist design. The major difference, however, is that it packs 10X the functionality.
The pad allows for 10W fast charging of Qi devices, a speed twice that of your standard wireless charger. It also contains premium shielding and precision resistors, which reduce interference with functions such as touchscreen and Bluetooth and just like the Anker pad a thermal sensor works to prevent overheating of your Qi device.
Another great aspect is the really subtle LED indicator that clearly informs you when your phone or device is charging but is unlikely to keep you up at night if you’re charging by your bedside.
While the BOOST↑UP Bold will set you back a bit more than the Anker pad it really is one of the best made chargers on the market and its minimalist design is iconic. Thankfully the price is likely to drop over time so it may be worth holding out for a few months before snapping this up.
The Logitech Powered Wireless Charging Stand is the PC accessory company’s first attempt at a wireless charger but by no means has this prevented them from creating one of the most ergonomic chargers I’ve come across. This stylish Powered Charging Stand is optimised for the iPhone and comes in a metallic silver or a pristine white.
The product is made from a sturdy and grippy plastic and the cradle should be a perfect fit for the iPhone 8 and X keeping them snugly secure. Unlike other chargers, Logitech has also positioned the LED indicator on the rear of the device so it shouldn’t cause trouble for those charging overnight.
While this product will work with other products it is specifically designed for iPhone, capping out charging at 7.5W (the optimum for iPhone) and being more tilted backwards than traditional stands to provide a perfect angle for iPhone X face recognition.
As you may have gathered this product probably isn’t for you if you’re not an iPhone user as the starting retail price may be over £50 when the product releases next month, but boy does this stand look set to be the perfect accessory to the iPhone.
- Samsung Wireless Charger Duo
A very recent reveal by Samsung is their Wireless Charger Duo which was teased at the recent Note 9 event in Brooklyn.
Whilst we have only seen a small leak of this product so far, it looks set to be one of the most unique chargers to date. As you may have guessed the Samsung dual charging pad will be able to charge two devices wirelessly at the same time but unlike other dual charging pads we’ve seen, one half of the product will be a charging pad and the other half a version of Samsung’s latest charging stand.
While this may look a bit odd it provides a whole new level of functionality as you now have the option of using your upright smartphone whilst it charges or just simply plonking it down on a pad. You can now also charge your Samsung Watch alongside your smartphone all in the confines of one smart charging device and using only one plug socket.
- Apple AirPower
I was initially hesitant to include this charger on my list due to recent speculation that the AirPower may not even release this year but it just didn’t feel right to leave it out considering it has the potential to be the standout product of 2018.
The Apple AirPower really is a shining example of how designers have taken a technology as simple as inductive coupling and crafted it into something special. If Apple is to be believed this oval-shaped charger will be able to charge up to 3 devices at a time, namely your iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods. Its ingenuity lies in its ability to charge all three of these devices simultaneously whilst allowing a degree of freedom in how you position them.
This will be a particularly impressive and a pioneering piece of engineering since all of these devices contain different sized Qi transmitter coils that charge at different outputs. While it is still unclear how well Apple will be able to deliver on the whole spatial freedom aspect, if it can charge these three devices at all it will still be a game-changing piece of tech.
There are other rumoured features including cross-device synchronisation and Bluetooth connectivity which will allow you to measure the power levels of all devices just from the iPhone. Supposedly it will also be able to cycle charge between the devices so that they all charge at the same rate. The big caveat, however, is that AirPower is still a WIP and we have yet to hear much about it in 2018 but expect some big news at the next Apple Product event in September.
Here’s a video of the Apple reveal of Airpower last year which illustrates just how cool this technology really is: