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.