Three rules for buying wireless chargers on Black Friday

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We’re getting close to Black Friday, and that means deals on absolutely everything, from home appliances and TVs to laptops, tablets, phones, and the accessories that make them all better. If you pick up a new phone this season, there’s a good chance it’ll support wireless charging, which has practically become mandatory in high-end devices over the years, so why not grab a wireless charger while it’s on sale, too?

Before you just jump on the cheapest deal you can find for some off-brand wireless charger, though, there are some things you should keep in mind to ensure you really get your money’s worth.

Quick desk charger

Samsung 15W Fast Charge 2.0 Wireless Charging Stand

One of the fastest charging stands around.

Samsung’s latest wireless charging stand tops up your phone as quickly as a wired connection — at least, so long as your have a Galaxy Note 10+. With other Samsung phones, you’ll be limited to 12W, though that’s still more than fast enough for a mid-day charge.

Pay attention to the wattage

The very first thing you should look for when perusing wireless chargers online is their maximum output wattage. When wireless charging first hit the scene, it was painfully slow to the point of not really being useful outside of overnight charging, but these days things have gotten much better.

Most wireless chargers still typically range from 5-10W, but Samsung’s latest wireless charging stand can output up to 15W — that’s as fast as some phones charge with a cable, and more than enough for reasonably quick top-ups throughout the day. Similarly, Google’s Pixel Stand can push 11W to the Pixel 4, but that actually raises another issue.

Along with the maximum potential output of your wireless charger, what phone you use can affect how quickly it’ll charge. The Pixel 3 gained some notoriety last year for only supporting 5W charging from most third-party wireless chargers, despite reaching 10W with the Pixel Stand. That’s because it, along with plenty of other phones, get around the limitations of the Qi standard by combining it with other wireless charging protocols — meaning Qi-only stands won’t be able to power them as quickly as you might hope. To save yourself some trouble, look for a compatibility list before you pull the trigger on a particular wireless charger.

Know where you’ll use it

There are plenty of places where you might want to keep a wireless charger handy. Most commonly, you’ll find them on desks or night stands, but these days there are also great options for your car, or even charging pads built directly into portable battery banks so you can go totally wireless.

For desk setups, you have plenty of options from flat pads to vertical stands that let you easily see your display, and even some chargers that power multiple devices at once, but if you want the most versatile solution, convertible chargers that alternate between flat and vertical positions are definitely the way to go.

If you want to top up in your car during long drives, you’ll need to figure out where you want to mount the charger. Plenty of chargers use your air vent as a mounting point, which makes them easy to move around and even reposition, but you might not necessarily want to be blowing hot air onto your phone while it’s charging. Others use suction cups to mount to your dashboard or even directly onto the windshield, with tension arms bringing them closer into view, but I personally love chargers that mount into my car’s CD slot since, well, it’s not exactly getting much use for its intended purpose.

Be mindful of your other accessories

Even if you find the seemingly perfect wireless charger, things could go downhill once you factor in the rest of your accessories. Picture this: you get an ultra-fast wireless charger at a great deal, but it draws power from a Micro-USB cable when all you have sitting around are USB-C cables, because it’s not 2013 anymore. Now you have to spend a few more dollars to get an outdated cable that can be particularly frustrating with mobile rigs where you now have an extra thing to pack and carry around.

That example may not be a terrible inconvenience, but what could be is if you use a thick case on your phone that gets in the way of wireless charging and prevents a proper connection. Or if you keep a Popsocket or adhesive wallet on the back of your phone — with the latter, extra material isn’t the only concern; wireless chargers can completely fry the contactless portion of any credit cards they come in contact with.

If you use multiple devices every day like a smartwatch or a second phone, your options for a wireless charger will also be considerably narrower — at least, if you opt for one of the multi-device charging stations I mentioned earlier.

One last piece of advice: don’t be afraid to branch out from first-party manufacturers like the company that makes your phone. Plenty of popular accessory makers like Anker, Aukey, Satechi, and RAVPower have great wireless charging options, and almost all of them are available at a discount during the Black Friday season. Keep an eye out for the best deals, and enjoy the freedom of a cable-free, tangle-free charging experience!

Wireless car charger

iOttie Easy One Touch

A versatile wireless charging solution for long drives.

iOttie’s wireless car charger uses a clever pressure-sensitive button to clamp shut automatically when you place your phone down. It can be mounted on your dashboard, windshield, air vent, or even your CD tray. Normally $50, the iOttie EOT is available at a $15 discount for Black Friday.

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