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Wireless chargers have become a popular tech accessory for people looking to power up their smartphone without adding more cords to their lives.
While the most basic wireless chargers cost less than $20, some run more than $100. How do you know which one to buy? And what does paying more get you, if anything?
To help answer those questions, Consumer Reports recently tested a half-dozen wireless chargers ranging in price from $25 to $60. First, our lab technicians measured how long it took for each device to fully charge both an iPhone 11 Pro Max and a Samsung Galaxy S10. (Note that you need a phone that’s compatible with wireless charging to use any of these devices.) Then testers averaged those scores.
They also looked at how easy and convenient the chargers were to use. Testers noted whether they included features such as multicolored LED lights that make it easy to see whether a phone is still charging or has finished. Devices that use widely available—and therefore easy to replace—cables were specifically noted, as was the one device we tested that can charge two phones at the same time.
While there were some differences in charging speeds, all the products powered up the phones in a reasonable amount of time and didn’t short out when sprayed with a small amount of water. (We threw in that test because some of these chargers spend their life on spots like kitchen counters.)
However, we did notice some key differences to take into account when you shop.
Before we get to the detailed results, which are available to CR members, there are a few things to understand about wireless chargers.
First, they aren’t designed to give your phone a quick burst of juice on the go. For that, it’s better to plug your phone into an outlet. Wireless chargers are best for when you’re sitting at your desk for a few hours or about to hit the sack at night.
On the other hand, you can use a wireless charger for both iPhones and Android devices—some will even charge more than one device at a time—helping to cut down on a rat’s nest of tangled cords.
That’s a big perk for me. As someone who reviews smartphones and other mobile devices for a living and a mom of two phone-obsessed kids, my wireless chargers play a key role in keeping everything powered and reducing the sometimes crazy number of cords plugged into power strips all over the apartment.
With wireless chargers you don’t need to hunt for and untangle the proper cord from under a table when a particular device needs juice. That’s no fun, especially if you’re ready to call it a day and catch some zzz’s.
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