Wireless charging comes in a ton of different shapes and sizes, from basic mats that charge your phone flat, stands that enable you to prop your phone up, or multi-device chargers that’ll juice up other devices such as your Apple Watch or AirPods in addition to your iPhone. But not all iPhones support wireless charging, so let’s take a look at the ones that do.
When it comes to wireless charging, Apple wasn’t the first to the scene; Android handsets adopted the tech long before Apple implemented it in its phones. Apple also isn’t the best here—several years in, iPhones still have some of the slowest “fast wireless charging” out there, capped at 7.5W. There’s one exception, but we’ll explore that a bit later.
Update, 3/15/21: Added information for new iPhone 13 models, and links.
Wireless charging uses electromagnetic induction to charge your phone. To put it simply, there’s a coil that’s typically made out of silver-plated copper or aluminum in both your phone and the charging pad itself. Aligning the two coils, or “placing the phone on the charger,” creates an electromagnetic field. Your iPhone generates a current from the field that’s then converted into direct current (DC) energy that is then pushed to your iPhone’s battery.
Aligning the coils is pretty easy. If you have an iPhone 11 or later, simply line up the Apple logo on the back of your phone with your wireless charger. On older iPhones, you’ll need to align the middle of your phone with the charging mat. And just like wired charging, you’ll see your phone light up letting you know charging has begun. Wireless charging works with most cases, but if you have a thicker heavy-duty case you may run into some issues.
In terms of charging speed, you’re looking at up to 7.5W for fast wireless charging, and 5W for standard charging. There’s one exception though and that’s Apple’s MagSafe charger. If you own an iPhone 13 series phone, MagSafe enables speeds 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 will have the same 7.5W restriction, even with Apple’s first-party charger.
While we can all collectively gawk at its $40 price tag, MagSafe does have its benefits over other wireless chargers. It arguably fixes the biggest issue with wireless charging: not being able to simultaneously use and charge your phone. It does this by, well, adding magnets to both the phone and the charger. The magnetic connection ensures a perfect alignment each time, enabling that fast 15W of charging.
Most modern devices, including the iPhone and accessories such as AirPods use the Qi wireless charging standard. It’s maintained by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which defines wireless charging as “energy that is transferred from one device to another without physically plugging in a cable.”
While convenient, wireless charging has its downsides. For example, it typically doesn’t charge as fast as wired charging and in most cases, you won’t be able to use your phone and charge at the same time. And if you happen to not align the charging mat and your phone right before bed? You’ll likely be looking at a nearly dead phone in the morning. You should also avoid wireless charging if you have a case that stores credit cards, RFID chips, or anything similar. Wireless charging with such items could permanently damage your cards.
If you need to quickly juice up, you’ll want to plug in via the Lightning port. Wireless charging times can vary depending on the charger, but for the most part, you’re looking at roughly 3 to 3.5 hours to fully charge wirelessly with a 7.5w charger. In comparison, using a 20W power adapter and a Lightning to USB-C cable will get you fully charged in just under 90 minutes.
An easy way to tell if your iPhone supports wireless charging is to check if the back is made out of glass. Because wireless charging doesn’t work through aluminum or other metals, Apple made the switch to glass starting with the iPhone 8 series.
But in case you’re unsure, the following iPhones that support wireless charging:
- iPhone 13 Pro, 13 Pro Max
- iPhone 13 and 13 mini
- iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max
- iPhone 12 and 12 mini
- iPhone SE (2nd/3rd generation)
- iPhone 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
- iPhone 11
- iPhone XR
- iPhone Xs and Xs Max
- iPhone X
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
You can also expect that all iPhone models released in the foreseeable future will include wireless charging.
Now that you know what wireless charging is, it’s time to find the perfect charger for you. Looking for a nightstand, desk, or multi-device charger? We’ve got you covered.
Satechi Trio Wireless Charging Pad
Need to charge your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods at once? The Trio Wireless Charging Pad from Satechi does the trick. And unlike many other multi-device charging stations, the Satechi takes USB-C for power.
Anker Wireless Charger, 313 Wireless Charger (Pad), Qi-Certified 10W Max for iPhone 12/12 Pro/12 mini/12 Pro Max, SE 2020, 11, AirPods (No AC Adapter, Not Compatible with MagSafe Magnetic Charging)
For its price, the Anker PowerWave Pad is an excellent choice. With no bells and whistles, it simply charges one device at a time. Its only downside is it lacks a USB power adapter.
Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand 10W - Qi Wireless Charger for iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, Xs, XS Max, XR/Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, Note9 / LG, Sony and More (Black) (F7U052dqBLK)
Need a phone stand that works in portrait and landscape? The Boost Up Wireless Charging Stand from Belkin nets you 7.5W of fast charging in either orientation.
Apple MagSafe Charger
MagSafe enables up to 15W of charging on the iPhone 13 series phone. While it works on older iPhones, you'll be limited to 7.5W of power and it won't magnetically attach to your phone.