Wireless charging comes in a ton of different shapes and sizes, from standard mats that let you charge your phone flat, stands that let you support your phone, or multi-device chargers that can use other devices like your Apple Watch or AirPods. next to your iPhone. But not all iPhones support wireless charging, so let̵
When it comes to wireless charging, Apple wasn’t the first to hit the spot. Android handsets took over the technology long before Apple implemented it in its phones. Apple isn’t the best here either – several years later, iPhones still have one of the slowest “fast wireless charging stations” out there, running at a maximum of 7.5W. There is one exception, but we’ll look into that later.
What is wireless charging?
Wireless charging uses electromagnetic induction to charge your phone. Simply put: both in your phone and in the charging station there is a coil that is usually made of silver-plated copper or aluminum. By aligning the two coils, or ‘placing the phone on the charger’, an electromagnetic field is created. Your iPhone generates power from the field which is then converted into direct current (DC) energy which is then pushed to your iPhone’s battery.
Aligning the coils is quite easy. If you have an iPhone 11 or later, line up the Apple logo on the back of your phone with your wireless charger. On older iPhones, you need to align the center of your phone with the charging mat. And just like with wired charging, you will see your phone light up to let you know that charging has started. Wireless charging works with most cases, but if you have a thicker, heavy case, you may run into some issues.
In terms of charging speed, you look at a maximum of 7.5 W for fast wireless charging and 5 W for standard charging. There is one exception, however, and that is Apple’s MagSafe charger. If you have an iPhone 12 series phone, MagSafe enables speeds of up to 15W for even faster wireless charging. Currently, only Apple’s first-party charger can do 15W. Other third-party MagSafe chargers are still limited to 7.5W. And older iPhones have the same 7.5W limitation, even with Apple’s first charger.
While we can all gawk at the $ 40 price tag together, MagSafe has its advantages over other wireless chargers. It probably solves the biggest problem with wireless charging: not being able to use and charge your phone at the same time. It does this by… well, adding magnets to both the phone and the charger. The magnetic connection ensures perfect alignment every time, allowing for that fast 15W charging.
Most modern devices, including the iPhone and accessories such as AirPods, use the Qi standard for wireless charging. It is maintained by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which defines wireless charging as “energy that is transferred from one device to another without physically connecting a cable”.
While convenient, wireless charging also has drawbacks. For example, it usually doesn’t charge as fast as wired charging and in most cases you can’t use and charge your phone at the same time. What if you don’t align the charging mat and your phone just before going to sleep? You will likely be looking at a nearly empty phone in the morning. You should also avoid wireless charging if you have a case that holds credit cards, RFID chips, or the like. Wireless charging with such items can permanently damage your cards.
When you need juice quickly, you’ll want to plug it in through the Lightning port. Wireless charging times may vary depending on the charger, but for the most part you’re looking at around 3 to 3.5 hours to charge completely wirelessly with a 7.5W charger. For comparison, with a 20W power adapter and a Lightning to USB-C cable charges you in just under 90 minutes.
Which iPhones support wireless charging?
An easy way to find out if your iPhone supports wireless charging is to check if the back is made of glass. Since wireless charging does not work through aluminum or other metals, Apple made the switch to glass starting with the iPhone 8 series.
But just in case you’re not sure, the following are iPhones that support wireless charging:
- iPhone 8 or 8 Plus
- iPhone X
- iPhone Xs or Xs Max
- iPhone XR
- iPhone 11
- iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max
- iPhone SE (2nd generation)
- iPhone 12 or 12 mini
- iPhone 12 Pro or 12 Pro Max
You can also expect all iPhone models released in the near future to be wirelessly charged.
Here are the best wireless chargers for your iPhone
Now that you know what wireless charging is, it’s time to find the perfect charger for you. Looking for a bedside table, desk or charger for multiple devices? We’ve got you covered.
Anker Wireless Charger, PowerWave Pad Qi Certified 10W Max for iPhone SE 2020, 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, AirPods, Galaxy S20 S10, Note 10 9 (No AC Adapter, Not Compatible with MagSafe Magnetic Charging)
For its price, the Anker PowerWave Pad is an excellent choice. Without bells and whistles, it simply charges one device at a time. The only drawback is that there is no USB power adapter.