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    Ditch The Cables, It's Time To Get A Wireless Charger

    You can stop bending your broken cable back and forth now.

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    Used to be we relied on cords to power up our devices. Now we can just plop our phones down on a spiffy pad or stand, and — through the power of electromagnetic wizardry — watch the battery bar glow up. Wireless charging is convenient, no doubt about it. And seeing that all major smartphones now support the technology, it may be time for you to get ~current~.

    Brookwell McNamara Entertainment, That So Productions, Warren & Rinsler Productions / Via giphy.com

    But shopping for wireless chargers can be tricky, especially when it comes to compatibility. Specifically, you’ll want to pay attention to the wattage of the wireless charger, because it can make a serious difference in terms of charging speeds. As a starting point, all wireless chargers support a standard 5-watt output, but the best ones support “fast” or “quick” charging, and that means something different depending on what kinda phone ya got. The newest iPhones are capable of wireless charging up to 7.5 watts, while Samsung Galaxy devices can handle a max speed of 10 watts. Some Android phones can go up to 15 watts. Ideally, you’ll want everything to match up, down to the wall plug.

    And then there’s the matter of design and form factor. Do you want a pad that lies flat, or an upright stand that allows you to conveniently interact with your phone while it’s charging? It all depends on preference. Generally speaking, flat pad chargers are ideal for nightstands, while stands are perfect for workspaces. Another thing to consider: Precise placement on the wireless charger is key, and once you find it, you’ll want your device to stay put. So a pad with a grippy surface is ideal, but as you’ll see with our $$$ pick, not always always a requirement.

    With all that in mind, we tested 25 Qi wireless chargers (Qi, pronounced “chee,” is the industry’s de facto wireless technology standard), taking into account everything from charging speed, form factor, hardware quality, and overall value. We used an iPhone XS, Samsung Galaxy Note S9+, and a Google Pixel 3, and spent hours on end draining their batteries only to charge ‘em up again. Our overall takeaway? Most wireless chargers are more or less the same, meaning you won’t find one that’s miles better than the rest. But details are everything. Below, you’ll find the best wireless chargers at three different price points.

    Editor's Note: We're currently updating these picks! Check back soon for more.

    Anker Powerwave Pad

    Looking to spend less than $20 to free your phone of cords? There’s no better option out there than the PowerWave Pad from Anker, the wallet-pleasing tech accessories brand you may remember from our true wireless earbuds review. While this lightweight puck won’t charge your phone with hypersonic speed (in fact, no wireless charger will), it’s still the best entry point into the wireless charging game.

    The first thing to know about the PowerWave Pad is that it does not come with an AC adapter. We repeat: This wireless charger DOES NOT come with a wall plug. This is actually common for cheap wireless chargers, so it’s not an oversight. The package does include a micro USB cord, and if you’re OK with standard charging speeds, you can make do with any USB plug you’ve got stashed at home.

    If you don’t have an extra USB wall plug — we don’t believe you, for the record — you might want to check out our midrange winner, which comes with a cord and a quick-charge wall plug. You’ll get a faster, well-built charging pad, and the cost will only be marginally higher than buying a plug (this is the one you’d want) and pad separately.

    If you care about getting a good deal more than getting “fast” charging, and you can supply your own USB plug, keep reading. If speed is your main requirement, skip on down to our $$ pick.

    Yes, the PowerWave Pad is basic, but that’s the trade-off for spending less. The pad itself is lightweight and handles like a toy, but the top and bottom have a rubberized texture to reduce slippage. It’s also quite thin (0.4 inches), which makes it slightly awkward to locate at times, especially in the dark. Luckily, it’s got a blue LED indicator that comes in handy as a quick way to check on charging status.

    In terms of performance, the PowerWave Pad accommodates Apple’s and Samsung’s fast-charge capabilities — but again, only if you’ve got a compatible plug. Otherwise, you get a maximum output speed of 5W no matter your phone make, which is more or less “standard.” But don’t let that concern you. In our tests, we used a regular ol’ 5-watt wall plug and the PowerWave Pad charged an iPhone XS and a Samsung GalaxyS9+ from zero to 25% in an hour. On average, both phones reached 100% in five hours. If you get a compatible wall plug, you’ll get to full charge in under four.

    If that sounds slow, it’s because it is. But it’s still better than the other budget wireless chargers we tested! Contenders from brands like Yootech and Seneo took approximately for-freaking-ever to reach full charge. For further context, both our $$ and $$$ picks will charge phones from zero to 100% in about three hours.

    This is why the PowerWave Pad is the best choice for this price point: It’s the fastest of the slowest, if that makes sense. Out of the box, without a fancy wall charger, this thing might be slow, but it’s still acceptable. This gives the PowerWave Pad tremendous value for people who rarely need a top-up during the day and charge their phone overnight (presuming they get the recommended eight hours of sleep).

    If you’re looking to ditch your charging cord for as little money as possible, and you aren’t too worried about getting the fastest charging speed around (you can always buy a proper wall plug later down the line), the Anker PowerWave Pad is the perfect entry-level wireless charger to get you well acquainted with the wireless charging life.

    Get it from Amazon for $12.

    RavPower Fast Wireless Charger

    Combine excellent build quality and the choice of a flat-pad or standing design with one of the fastest charge times on the market, and the result? Our $$ winner, the RavPower Fast Wireless Charger. RavPower may not have the same name recognition as the other brands we tested at this price point (Belkin, Mophie, and Logitech, to name a few), but it outpaced the competition in nearly every possible way.

    Unlike our budget pick, the RavPower comes with a USB cord and a powerful 24W Qualcomm 3.0 quick-charge plug (which costs about $11 on its own), meaning there’s no question that it’ll charge your phone as fast as it’ll allow. It’s able to support standard 5W charging speeds for Android phones (i.e., LG, Sony, and Google), and cater to the fast-charging powers of Apple (7.5W) and Samsung (10W) phones.

    Out of all the wireless chargers we tested, RavPower provided some of the speediest charging times, taking an iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S9+ from zero to between 40% and 50% in an hour on average. In our testing, we ran full charge cycles on 10 different occasions, and going from zero to 100% took each phone around three hours every time.

    The only exception? The Google Pixel 3, which was slow to charge on every wireless charger that wasn’t a Google Pixel Stand. We’re not sure what kind of black magic Google has over its hardware, but if you’ve got a Pixel, stop reading now and just keep it in the family. Not only is the Pixel Stand built to integrate seamlessly with the phone, it’s also the only wireless charger that’ll unleash the Pixel 3’s 10W fast charging.

    Though it may not look it, the RavPower Fast Wireless Charger has a few small details that help it stand out from the pack. For starters, it’s hefty. And with four rubber feet for stability, this thing won’t slide around on your desk from an accidental knock. Our testers also appreciated the pad’s rubberized inner ring, which provides a grippy surface for the phone to sit on. This pad is also slightly more raised than most, which makes it even easier to grab-and-go.

    Then there’s a thing that RavPower calls HyperAir technology, which promises 15% faster heat dispersion than other chargers. For us, this temperature regulation was barely noticeable, but we can say for certain that our test phones or the pad never felt hot to the touch at any point in our testing. Either way, it’s nice to have the peace of mind.

    Like we mentioned before, the choice of either a flat pad or standing model really depends on your specific needs, and where you’re planning to set up your charging station. Each form factor has its pros and cons, and if you prefer a stand (better for work, so you can still, say, check your messages), you could spend a little more for the RavPower Wireless Charging Stand. It boasts the same performance, but with two charging coils instead of one, which means you can charge your phone in landscape or portrait mode.

    Speaking of stands, if you’re not feeling the simple, all-black look, you might want to check out our $$ runner-up, the iOttie Ion Wireless Fast Charging Stand. Wrapped up in heathered gray fabric, this stand is easily the most aesthetically pleasing wireless charger we tested. Plus, it performed just as well as the RavPower in our tests. Despite its good looks, the stand is just too lightweight and wobbly for us to recommend widely. But if you’re willing to sacrifice hardware quality for looks, the iOttie is a great choice.

    When taking into account charging time, hardware quality, and aesthetics, though, RavPower reigns supreme. If you’re looking for a dependable wireless charger that’s available in both a flat-pad and stand design, and one that comes with all the fixins (a compatible plug!), we think RavPower will give you the power you’ve been looking for.

    Get the pad from Amazon for $27 and the stand for $50.

    Nomad Base Station Hub

    In essence, our $$$ winner will charge your phone quickly and efficiently, much like wireless chargers half its price. But that’s where the similarities end. If you’re willing to go all in on wireless charging technology, you’re entitled to a versatile charger that can power up not one, not two, not three…but FOUR devices at once, with premium touches fit for a corner office.

    If that sounds appealing, the Nomad Base Station Hub is for you.

    Now we can’t say that this hub is perfect. It’s got a big proprietary barrel charger, which is annoying, albeit common for multi-device wireless chargers. Then there’s the leather finishing, which our testers agreed is not as functional as a grippy rubber surface. But boy did we use this thing all the time! It just felt so satisfying to plop down our devices onto the pad, and the more we became familiar with the hub, the more major quibbles became minor ones.

    Here’s how it works: There are three internal charging coils, each with 10W of output, meaning it’s able to support maximum charging speeds for both Apple and Samsung phones. Where it gets tricky is charging two devices at once, which — stay with us — clocks the hub’s output to 7.5W per device. So if you have a Samsung Galaxy S9+ that maxes out at 10W, but you’ll be sharing the pad with someone who has an iPhone XS, you’ll have to live with 7.5W output when both phones are juicing up. This makes the Base Station Hub a better buy for diehard Apple users, especially those who own a wireless charging case for their AirPods.

    With its sleek aluminum body and leather charging pad, the Base Station Hub will subtly class up any area of your home or workplace. Most wireless chargers leave a lot to be desired in the aesthetics department, which could explain why our testers gave the Base Station Hub major points here. If the all-black look isn’t quite your thing, Nomad also sells a charming (albeit more expensive) walnut version.

    As noted in some online reviews, placement for two devices on the Base Station Hub can be cumbersome. Charging just one phone? Easy. But two phones won’t charge unless you find the “sweet spot,” which we found by aligning each device closer to the end of the pad (versus towards the center). After a couple of tries, it becomes intuitive (the three LED charging indicators help, too), but if you’ll be regularly charging two devices at once, just know it’ll take some tinkering.

    Besides wireless charging, the Base Station Hub has two USB ports located on the back, a great perk that truly turns this thing into an all-in-one charging solution. The USB-A port can take care of small miscellany tech (think: wireless headphones), while the 18W USB-C port is powerful enough to charge tablets and even a MacBook or MacBook Pro.

    Needless to say, that’s a good amount of power options. Our testers loved the idea of this wireless charger for small families who have to deal with tangled cords. Just throw the Base Station Hub in a communal space and you can kiss arguments about who’s hogging what outlet goodbye.

    Apple fans should take note that the hub is also available in an Apple Watch edition. In the market for some rugged phone cases and cords? Nomad has you covered there. As for an all-in-one power station that’ll offer both wireless and wired charging, we’re sold on Base Station Hub. And we think you will be, too.

    Get it from Nomad for $100.

    Editor’s Note: At the time of publishing this review, Nomad announced the Base Station Hub Pro, which will be able to wirelessly charge three devices at once at any orientation. We’ll be updating this piece after a full inspection — so be sure to check back.