Should you or shouldn’t you charge your phone using a wireless pad? Is it bad for your battery? Bad for the environment? How long does it take to reach a full charge?
For the answers (and more!), see our Wireless Charging Pros & Cons chart:
A quick primer on how wireless charging works
Have you ever used an electric toothbrush that recharges on its stand? Then you already know the basics of how wireless charging works. It uses what’s called a resonant inductive coupling between the charger and the device. For wireless phone charging, the charger sends a test signal to the device for calculating the energy required to charge it. Then charging begins and it stops once the device is fully charged.
The wireless charging standard used today is called Qi, pronounced “chi” as in the Chinese philosophy of life force. Qi technology is used in brands from iPhone to Galaxy to (yes) BlackBerry so the same wireless charger can be used for any device, just like WiFi and Bluetooth technology. Qi beat out PMA as the market standard but older Android devices may only support PMA.
Phones that support wireless charging
As of this writing, these popular phones support native wireless charging using the Qi standard:
- iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, and XR
- Samsung Galaxy Note 5, 7, 8, 9, and 9+; S6, S6 Edge+, and S7 Edge
- Google Pixel 3, XL and Google Nexus 4, 5, 6, and 7
- LG Optimus G Pro, LG G3, G4, G6, and LG V30
- Sony Xperia Z3V and Z4V
- Motorola Droid Max, Mini, Turbo, Moto
- Nokia Lumia 735, 830, 920, 928, 930, and 1520
If you don’t see your phone listed above, check Qinside for more phones and a continually updated list. You can also buy a wireless charging adaptor or adaptor case for phones without Qi integration.
Wireless Charging Pros and Cons
Does wireless charging deserve all the hype? And is it right for you?
|Wireless technology||Fewer cables mean less clutter; frees up your phone port for other uses; reduces the likelihood of power surge to your phone; can charge multiple devices at once with larger charging pads||Must line up your device and charger with precise accuracy on some chargers; can inadvertently move the device out of alignment without knowing it (especially if you’re charging in a drawer)|
|Impact on phone ports and cable life||Less wear and tear on both||Phone ports hardly ever wear out and cables are cheap|
|Impact on battery life||The amount of battery degradation due to over-cycling appears to be minimal on most phones||Some batteries may get degraded but there are too many variables — phone models, operating systems (OS), charging habits — to make test studies worthwhile|
|Charging speed||Newer phones charge faster at 7.5 watts, 9 watts, or even 15 watts; charging speed doesn’t matter much if you charge while you sleep||If your phone/OS combination requires charging at 5 watts, it takes 30-80% longer to charge wirelessly than with a cable|
|Phone use while charging.||Some chargers include a stand to use your phone as an alarm clock or to watch videos while charging||Awkward to impossible because tapping the phone can misalign the charge connection|
|Charging while driving||Hands-free convenience; available in dozens of makes and models of cars; can also have it installed||After-market options still require a cable, and some professionally installed after-market options may require a cable to use Apple AirPlay and Android Auto|
|Charging while using furniture||Super-convenient to set your phone on your bedstand, counter, or another piece of furniture — and it charges — Ikea has offered built-in charging since 2015||Built-in charging pads can get scratched inadvertently|
|Cost||Larger pads can charge many devices at once||Expensive when compared to cables, ranging from around $15 and $70|
|Security||Good for public charging because nothing plugs into your phone; available at some hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops||None|
|Health — Electromagnetic fields (EMF)||Wireless charging pads release negligibly low levels of EMF and the Qi standard includes radiation shielding; the World Health Organization states that low levels of EMF emissions do not lead to health problems||The World Health Organization states that more research is needed to determine if low levels of EMF cause less obvious health effects; for people exposed to EMF in other ways, the exposure becomes multiplied|
|Environmental impact||Charging pads last longer than cables so create less trash for landfills||20% of the power generated by wireless chargers goes out into the air|
|Portability||Most are lightweight and can be used with a wireless battery pack for no-cord traveling||Not as portable as cables; larger pads can be awkward to carry around|
What’s next for wireless charging?
In the future you may not even need to use a charger at all — you might be able to charge your devices over the air. Just be in the vicinity of a charger. Until then, see Tech Advisor, Trusted Reviews and PCWorld for lists of the best wireless chargers for 2019. Happy charging!
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