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Wireless charging - from Nikola Tesla to wireless charger

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Modern technology ensures that our world is freed from cables more and more. With WLAN or Bluetooth, data has been able to be transmitted wirelessly for many years. But even though Nikola Tesla was able to successfully transmit electricity wirelessly via induction over 100 years ago, this technology is still rarely found in everyday life, with the exception of electric toothbrushes. This is currently changing and many are recognizing the convenience of induction chargers or a wireless charger with the Qi standard. Here you can find all the relevant information on exactly this topic. Wireless charging is a relatively new standard and there are a few things to keep in mind. In the comparison test, we mainly look at bestsellers and well-known products, but also the cheaper models from the field of inductive chargers and collect all the important information about the respective product. Inductive charging is also becoming more and more popular in the media, which is why we would like to keep you up to date via the “News” category.

How does wireless charging work?

  1. The charging station generates a small electromagnetic field a few millimeters above the loading area, as soon as a compatible device is recognized.
  2. The inductive energy exchange between Transmitter and receiver coil begins.
  3. The receiver coil conducts the Power to the battery further and this charges itself.
  4. The charging process is steady controlled and ended automaticallyas soon as the battery is fully charged.

Qi charger: experience & purchase advice

There is already a considerable selection of wireless chargers based on the Qi standard, also known as wireless chargers. But a comparison is often not that easy, especially for the layperson. In our test report summaries, all important questions are clarified and in the comparison table for Qi chargers you get a quick overview of the range. In addition to the chargers, this website also deals with the technology itself, which is behind it, and presents our own experience in handling it. Everyone can find out about the advantages and disadvantages of the Qi standard and the topic "Wireless charging"Inform about inductive charging (blog article: What is the qi standard) and decide for yourself whether a purchase is an option.

You can find out whether your smartphone can be retrofitted with the Qi standard or already supports it in the list of Qi cell phones. Other Qi-certified devices or those with a wireless charging function such as screens, all-in-one PCs or Bluetooth speakers or smartwatches already exist and are collected below this list. Smartphones that were not intended by the manufacturer for retrofitting with the Qi standard can be retrofitted with a universal Qi receiver with a micro-USB connection and then also charged via an inductive charger. When it comes to test summaries, criticism is not shied away from: If a certain device cannot meet the requirements of everyday life, this becomes clear to the reader. We are a manufacturer-independent platform that wants to offer its readers objective reporting. Because wireless charging not only has advantages - more on this in the following sections.

What is a Qi charger?

A Qi charger is a charger for smartphones and other small devices that uses induction to transmit electricity wirelessly. So-called induction coils are used, which can transmit energy via an electric field. With Qi chargers, among other things, it is advantageous if several of these coils have been installed. This makes handling easier, as the device is recognized more quickly and the exact placement is no longer necessary. However, wireless charging varies in speed, which is why the power level of the charger is important when buying.

Otherwise, Qi chargers are usually offered in a flat form or as a stand-alone device - special forms are, for example, Qi holders for the car or Qi power banks. In principle, models from well-known manufacturers are usually the better choice, as they usually belong to the more sophisticated Qi chargers. Some have also been specially designed for certain cell phone models. The currently common power levels for a Qi charger are 5W - 7.5W - 10W. Modern forms support all three modes and choose the right performance depending on the phone model. However, they are usually not exactly one of the cheap Qi chargers on the market. You can also find more detailed information about important criteria when buying a Qi charger in the comparison table in the section "What should I compare with a Qi charger?".

What do I need to pay attention to when purchasing?

In the Qi charger comparison, you can basically orientate yourself on the following points in order to quickly make the right choice:

 

  • power: Current Qi chargers charge with 5W, 7.5W or 10W - also depending on the respective smartphone.
  • Design: Most models are designed to be flat or stand-alone.
  • technology: Several induction coils make handling easier.
  • Manufacturer: There are mature models from Samsung, Anker or Belkin, among others
  • scope of delivery: Qi chargers are often delivered without a power supply unit.

The charging cable has had its day, now it is charged by induction: wireless charging, or English. "Wireless Charging" refers to the process of charging smartphones or cell phones by induction without cables, i.e. contactlessly - the device is simply placed on the charging station and the charging process begins. The technology behind it is already known from electric toothbrushes or the induction cooker in the kitchen. It works with the help of an electromagnetic field that transfers the energy from the charging station to the cell phone. Contactless power transmission has long and successfully been used in other areas and is basically not a new invention. Inductive charging is therefore only the consistent continuation of proven technology, transferred to our modern everyday life.

Wireless charging: pros and cons

What are the advantages?

  • very practical in everyday life
  • no wear on the connections
  • Manufacturer-independent standard, suitable for Apple & Android
  • Distribution to public Locations (bars, cafes & hotels)
  • More security compared to cables

What are the disadvantages?

  • Charging takes a little longer
  • power consumption increases depending on the model

The advantages of wireless charging stations are clear in their ease of use. Here you no longer have to strive to connect the USB plug to the mobile phone, all you have to do is put it down or put it down on the Qi charging station - the charging process begins. Another advantage is that the plug connection on the mobile phone does not wear out unnecessarily. A side effect: Due to the easier handling in everyday life, you usually charge your smartphone more often (with a more bearable charge level for the battery) and thus have more energy available throughout the day.

The disadvantage of charging by induction: The transmission is not possible without energy losses. A small part of the electricity is converted into heat here. The smartphone or Qi charger can heat up slightly as a result, which is why some models with so-called "Fast Wireless Charging" Qi standard have installed a small fan for cooling. This ensures that the temperature of the device or the battery is always in an optimal range. We have put together Qi chargers with fans separately.

Which is the best Qi charger?

Qi chargers have already been examined several times by Stiftung Warentest - a current study dates from 2019 and compared and tested various models. Five models received the test rating “good” in terms of charging, handling and power consumption. More on this in the Qi charger test section.

The best Qi chargers in the test:

  • 1st place: Anker PowerPort Wireless 10 (flat) - GOOD (2,1) | from - €
  • 2nd place: Anker PowerWave 7.5 (inclined) - GOOD (2.2) | from € 23.99
  • 3rd place: Belkin Boost Up Stand (inclined) - GOOD (2,3) | from - €
  • 4th Place: Hama FC-10 (flat) - GOOD (2,3) | from 14.99 € (-25%)
  • 5th place: Intenso BA1 (flat) - GOOD (2,3) | from € 24.94

Compared to charging by cable, the charging process with the Qi standard takes longer because, as already mentioned, there are technical losses in the energy transfer. However, the further development of the Qi standard for wireless charging should provide a remedy in terms of charging speed. Current Qi charging stations usually have the faster "Fast Wireless Charging" Qi standard, which can charge your cell phone with 10-15 watts. These devices are also known as Qi quick chargers.

For hotels, bars or cafes, Qi chargers in tables, counters or other furniture are an interesting service offer and also ensure a modern ambience - Ikea is leading the way. Environmental protection aspects are also one of the advantages, because wireless charging using the Qi standard should ultimately replace power supplies for various end devices and become a universal charging technology.

In critical places, such as in the car or motorcycle, the Qi standard or inductive charging with less cable clutter can also contribute to safety. Some car manufacturers have already recognized this and are equipping their models with "wireless charging" technology. But cars themselves can also be charged inductively - inductive energy transmission for electric cars is currently a big topic in industry and research.

AirPower alternatives: No Apple charging mat available for the time being

Unfortunately, for the time being there will be no Apple charging mat based on the Qi standard, which is why many are looking for AirPower alternatives. The development of the long announced and eagerly awaited AirPower charging station has officially been discontinued. The reasons can only be speculated, as there was only a brief statement from Apple. The special feature: Up to three end devices should be able to be charged wirelessly with the AirPower. But other manufacturers also offer this service and have brought reliable AirPower alternatives onto the market. A detailed overview of both the charging stations officially recommended by Apple and the most popular AirPower alternatives from third-party manufacturers can be found under the following link:

»AirPower Alternative: The best alternatives to the Apple charging mat

Design: wireless charging station or flat charging pad (charging mat)?

In addition to its flat design, an upright wireless charging station is the most common type of inductive charging device based on the Qi standard. It allows you to keep an eye on the smartphone display while it is charging, for example at your desk. This also names the primary area of ​​application: At the desk in the office or at home. Flat Qi chargers or wireless charging mats are more suitable for the bedside table or other places where you just want to put the device down. Wireless charging stations often have several induction coils built in, as they offer more space. The smartphone can also charge wirelessly while standing or lying on its side. Well-known manufacturers such as Anker or Samsung always have an upright charging station in their range of wireless charging mats. Special forms of wireless charging stations are, for example, those that can charge several devices at the same time - also known as dual charging stations. They are available for smartphones as well as for combination with wearables, such as a smartwatch or as an AirPods charging station. With some models, up to three devices can be charged at the same time with a single wireless charging mat.

What is the Qi Standard?

The Qi standard is a standard for the wireless transmission of energy, also called inductive charging - currently mostly installed in cell phones and smartphones. It was developed by the WPC (Wireless Power Consortium) in 2008 and has since established itself on the market with over 200 companies as members and prevailed against the competing PMA standard. The Qi standard is not limited to specific devices or manufacturers, but is consistently compatible. This means that a Qi charging station from a certain manufacturer can basically be used to charge all Qi-enabled devices. Wireless charging is fundamentally interoperable.

Nevertheless, there are quality differences here, as with every product class. Current top models in the field of induction chargers mostly come from Samsung. With the Samsung Galaxy S6, the manufacturer relied firmly on the wireless charging standard and has since brought its own Qi charger onto the market for each model series. The models from Samsung are among the best sellers in this product class.

Which phones can charge wirelessly?

The following mobile phones support wireless charging using the Qi standard - a selection of compatible models:

"You can find the entire list here: Qi cell phones

If you deal with this topic, you quickly ask yourself which model can charge wirelessly. The first smartphone that could be charged wirelessly was the Palm Pre and it was launched in 2009. However, Nokia can be called a true pioneer in the field of Qi mobile phones. The manufacturer was the first to clearly focus on installing the Qi standard in its smartphone models. A few years later, the market leader Samsung followed with what is now the broadest range of Qi chargers. Years later, Apple finally decided to incorporate the Qi standard and thus wireless charging with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, respectively. Anyone who previously wanted to retrofit their Apple iPhone with the Qi standard still had to do this laboriously using an external Qi charging pad - this has now changed.

As before, however, all smartphones can be retrofitted with the Qi standard via a charging pad. Since the two big smartphone manufacturers Samsung and Apple have now agreed, the Qi standard will probably be built into most smartphone models in the future. Which cell phones support the Qi standard? You can find out in our Qi Handy overview.

What wireless chargers are there?

© IKEA (obs / Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2015)

Basically, inductive chargers differ in their design and their performance. On the one hand, there are flat models on which the smartphone can be placed horizontally. On the other hand, there are Qi charging stations where you can park your mobile phone, so it is almost vertical on the charging station during the charging process - especially interesting for the desk or in the home office. There are also special forms, such as Qi chargers for the car or Qi power banks for use on the go - an external battery with wireless charging technology. Wireless charging is interoperable or manufacturer-independent, advantageous for many small devices and is finding its way into more and more areas.

Wireless chargers are also installed in all kinds of lamps, furniture, PC monitors or housings, and are being offered in more and more public places, such as airports or bars and cafes. With the Auto Qi chargers already mentioned, you benefit in particular from the easy handling of wireless charging: At this particularly critical point, the smartphone can be put down in the vehicle holder with one movement when getting in and can be used as a navigation system, for example, without it you have to take care of the power supply later while driving.

Technically, inductive chargers differ mainly in their performance. Older models charge their mobile phones with the usual 5 watts of the Qi standard 1.1 and take significantly longer than charging by cable. A further development of the Qi standard has been on the market for several years, which is usually referred to as "Fast Charging" or "Fast Wireless Charging". Up to 10 watts (input: 9V, 1.67A) are used here and the wireless charging process is significantly accelerated. Of course, the Qi mobile phone must also be provided for this faster wireless charging standard, which is usually the case with current smartphone models. The whole thing is of course downward compatible, so that a "Fast Wireless Charging" Qi fast charging station can also be used for a cell phone that only supports the normal Qi standard. Wireless charging is currently offered in the power levels 5 watts, 7.5 watts for the iPhone and 10-15 watts - depending on the model and device.

"Fast Charging" - faster Qi charging (inductive quick charging)

The disadvantage of wireless charging is the longer charging process, which is why the manufacturers planned the further development of the Qi standard from the beginning - called inductive rapid charging. In the current version 1.2, around 10-15 watts are transmitted via induction, which means that depending on the mobile phone model, charging only takes slightly longer than with a cable.Due to the slightly higher heat development in Qi quick chargers, a small fan is often also installed - but this is usually not audible, even in a very quiet environment. However, if you want or need to charge your mobile phone as quickly as possible, you should rather use wired charging. The advantage of charging via Qi is clearly that it is easy to use in everyday life. Inductive charging is also spreading more and more in public places and has proven itself in the matter of "customer service" in many places, for example in bars, airports or hotels.

What is an induction charger or inductive charging station?

The term induction charger or inductive charging station refers to the underlying technology of wireless chargers. Induction technology is the contactless transfer of energy between the transmitter and receiver coils. The principle is physically based on electromagnetic waves and can basically be compared with the technology behind an induction hob - but of course the energy transferred is different here. Wireless chargers are to be equated with the term induction chargers or Qi chargers, the latter refers to the underlying standard - the Qi standard.

Which Qi fast chargers are there?

The latest generation of wireless charging includes so-called Qi fast chargers - also known as "Fast Wireless Charging". The first models with the faster Qi standard came from Samsung, but Qi fast chargers with up to 15 watts are now standard and other manufacturers have followed suit. Above all, Apple offers wireless charging via Qi with its latest iPhone models with currently up to 7.5 watts. Unfortunately, not all Qi chargers support this faster standard - you can find Qi quick chargers for Apple iPhone 8 and the iPhone Xr series here. Otherwise there are reliable Qi quick chargers from all well-known manufacturers of inductive chargers. Current bestsellers and newer Qi chargers are mostly designed for Apple's 7.5W models as well as for Samsung's 10W or 15W and other smartphones with 5W support - they recognize the respective model and select the appropriate power. Qi quick chargers are therefore the right choice for quickly charging modern smartphones.

Qi charging stations for various purposes

Qi charging stations can of course be used in most places, but you should still think about where the exact place of use will be before buying. For the workplace, a charger built into the PC monitor or a Qi stand-alone device may be suitable, for the living area IKEA offers wireless chargers built into lamps or other pieces of furniture, and car mounts with Qi are best for the car or on the go. Standard or mobile Qi batteries. Some models are particularly impressive due to their design, for example there are Qi chargers made of wood or even ceramic. Bluetooth speakers with a battery and built-in Qi charging function are also an interesting addition and are already available in large numbers. Wireless charging therefore has advantages for various small devices.

9 tips for wireless chargers

  • There are currently three power levels: wireless chargers according to Qi standard 1.1 (5 watts), Qi quick chargers according to the Qi standard 1.2 with 7.5 watts for new Apple iPhones and with 10-15 watts for newer Samsung models.
  • Pay attention to the addition "Fast wireless charging"(Downward compatible)
  • Newer smartphones support the faster Qi standard, other models can still be charged with “Fast Wireless Charging” charging stations
  • Multiple induction coils inside (mature models) make handling much easier
  • Inductive chargers for can basically be used with all Qi-enabled end devices
  • What is important is one recommended by the charger manufacturer and sufficient powerful USB power supply to be used (usually 5V / 2A)
  • Because of this still young product class Bestsellers and well-known manufacturers usually the better choice
  • good devices offer e.g.following manufacturers or well-known brands in this area: Samsung, Anker, Nokia, Belkin, Nanami, Hama, Ikea or Zens.
  • Induction chargers are often used Delivered without power supply (visible in the scope of delivery!). The reason: These are mostly available anyway - but you should check whether it is powerful enough. Which power supply is required can be seen in the respective product description of the dealer - mostly 5V / 2A or 9V / 1.67A.

Qi chargers for Apple iPhone and Android

When Apple finally decided on the Qi standard or inductive charging with its iPhone, a wireless charger, the iPhone Qi charger Belkin Boost up 7.5W, was developed in collaboration with the Belkin company. In the future, it is estimated that there will also be in-house Qi chargers from California. After all, Apple already used wireless charging technology for its Apple Watch, but in this case still according to a wireless charging standard developed in-house. Basically conceivable, and already implemented in earlier models, is an induction charger for wireless charging of several devices at the same time. Wireless chargers for smartphones and smartwatches that can be charged at the same time are also already on the market. Wireless charging on the iPhone was initially supported in the power levels 5 watts and 7.5 watts - more on this under the following link. Various Qi chargers for Apple iPhones can be found here.

Samsung with its smartphones based on the Android operating system was not a pioneer, but has been the market leader in the field of inductive chargers for years. The Qi charger that appears with every new Galaxy series has always quickly become a bestseller in the field of induction chargers on amazon.de. Models from Samsung can also be recommended here - of course for all other Qi cell phones as well.