How to wirelessly charge your Android device

woodpuck qi charger

Still plugging in your Android smartphone every night? There is a better way – or at least, there is if you own a smartphone that supports wireless charging. If your phone is compatible (eg the Nexus 6, LG G3 or Samsung Galaxy S6) all you need is a wireless charging pad or dock, which are now more common than you might realize (you can even find them in some IKEA furniture). 

The wireless charging standard used most commonly in Android phones is called Qi, and you can find a comprehensive list of compatible devices here. The handsets we mentioned above are among those that have Qi support built-in; other phones can be made compatible with an adapter. Check out what's needed for your handset and you're ready to get going.

ikea riggad qi wireless charging
You know something's popular when Ikea gets on board. / © IKEA

Which wireless charger should I choose?

Wireless chargers come in all shapes and sizes, from docks that plug into a wall outlet, to mats that work out of a USB socket, to wireless chargers integrated with your furniture. No matter what type of handset you have, and what budget you're working to, you should be able to find something to suit it — official devices from your phone's manufacturer are a good place to start, although they tend to be a little pricier than third-party offerings.

Just make sure you buy something that's properly compatible with your device. Some phones are only compatible with Qi, while others work with the PMA (Power Matters Alliance) standard. The difference is that Qi works with wavelengths of 100-205 KHz and PMA uses wavelengths of 277-357 KHz. Some devices, such as the Galaxy S6 and its variants, support both standards.

samsung galaxy s6 edge qi wireless charging
Some phones, such as the Galaxy S6, support both Qi and PMA charging standards. / © Samsung

Charging your phone

One you have a wireless charger, all you need to do is plug it into a power source and you can place your phone on it to start filling the battery. The battery level should start rising after a few moments. There are no special settings to configure, no switch to flick — the message on the battery screen will read Charging wirelessly so you know the connection is working.

The charging might be slightly slower than it is from a standard charger, but it's much more convenient. Most estimates put it around 20 percent slower than cabled charging, although Samsung offers fast-charging wireless chargers for the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus and Galaxy Note 5. If you turn your phone off to charge it'll fill up much faster too.  

Benefits of wireless charging

The best part about wireless chargers is that there's no need to plug in or unplug your phone, you just drop it on your wireless charger and away you go.

If you have a dock-style wireless charger, you can sit your phone next to your computer while it charges, so it's always ready to display new notifications. Using a pad charger will protect your phone from bumps and scrapes on your desk.

mondpalast portable qi wireless charger
You can even get portable wireless chargers, like this one from Mondpalast. / © Mondpalast

Wireless charging also helps prevent wear and tear in the cable and charging port areas. And with the emergence of USB Type-C, using wireless chargers will allow you to side-step that irritating transition phase from one USB type to another, and save you having to hunt for the right charger for your phone. 

If you're interested in any of the charging docks pictured in this article, here are the Amazon links.

Do you use a wireless charger? Do you think wireless charging is better than fast-charging? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Go to comment (18)
David Nield

David Nield

David is a freelance technology journalist who has been writing about Android apps and gadgets since the earliest days of the platform. He spends most of his time experimenting with phones, tablets and most other types of tech, particularly if it's Google-related.

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  • David Furniss Dec 30, 2015 Link to comment

    I bought 4 wireless chargers on eBay for $2.00 each with free shipping about 6 months ago. They reach came with a short USB cable. All 4 work fine. I've been using 2 of them every day since getting them. The other 2 are for our cars, they don't get used quite as much. I am very happy with them! Our phones are Nexus 6's (curved backs) with the Google project FI cases. I've added a thin metal plate inside the back of the case so I can use a magnetic mount in my car. The wireless chargers work fine thru all that.

  •   46
    Deactivated Account Dec 28, 2015 Link to comment

    I don't like and do not want wireless charging for several reasons.
    1) it is slower
    2) it uses more power
    3) it is harder to use the phone while charging
    4) it is not as portable
    5) they are much more expensive than standard chargers.
    6) The people I know that have them tend to leave them plugged in wasting even more power.
    Personally I think wireless charging sucks and is just a gimmick to get you to spend more money.

  • mark griesser Dec 28, 2015 Link to comment

    Come on man if you are going to do an article on wireless charging don't be lazy about it. What do you think is the number one question on the majority of peoples mind that they'd like answered regarding wireless charging?

    Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? Buehler? That's right, battery wear and tear, longevity and proper battery maintenance. How you left out these most important points is bazaar.

    I want to know if this is going to be slightly hotter on average while charging wireless. Does it charge cooler? Does it charge up to 100% then keep charging for another 10 minutes or so until it feels a slight voltage drop like it does plugged in. If I leave it on the charger then get hit by a buss and find myself in traction in the hospital for a month is my phone sitting on the pad getting cooked for a month?

  • Peter Male Dec 27, 2015 Link to comment

    I stopped using mine because even leaving it on overnight would never give it a full charge. When I removed it in the morning it would only be around 95%

  • scott pettersen Apr 29, 2015 Link to comment

    I have a wireless charger that is also a portable battery. Only when you need to charge the wireless charger is it tied to a power source.

    Search Amazon for "Qi backup battery"

  • Jesus Apr 23, 2015 Link to comment

    Not really wireless if it has to be on a dock

    • Charlie Big Balls Apr 23, 2015 Link to comment

      How is placing your phone on a charging unit that doesn't actually connect to your phone directly via a wire not wireless??!! JESUS jesus!

      • Jesus Apr 24, 2015 Link to comment

        I was referring to the fact that it has to be on a dock and you can't move the phone away from it.

      • Charlie Big Balls Apr 24, 2015 Link to comment

        Then in future i suggest you be more precise in your comments and people wouldn't mistake what you mean, and therefore regard you as a d**k!! 😘

      • ekun Apr 24, 2015 Link to comment

        Actually, I understand what he is saying and I agree with him, and I don't regard him as a d**k.

      • Bret Apr 29, 2015 Link to comment

        It's wireless, not magic. Once you've actually used it then you will understand that it's still better than being wired. The real problem is that the dock is $70. I have bought charging stations for $9 online.

  • Anthony Apr 23, 2015 Link to comment

    Would the charger work if the phone has a thick case on it?

    • Rogue Tomato Apr 23, 2015 Link to comment

      I'm sure this writer will post an article that says "no, it won't" in 500 words.

      • Charlie Big Balls Apr 23, 2015 Link to comment

        Whilst product placing a thick case thats available to buy!

    • Dausfir Adeys Dec 16, 2015 Link to comment

      I have across an charger wherein the phone can be charged wirelessly when placed 4mm above the base of the charging pad.By this I mean the phone can charge with a case as thick as 4mm. This wireless charger is developed by PowerSquare and the name of the charger is TANGO. This wireless charger is funded successfully on Kickstarter too.

    • mark griesser Dec 28, 2015 Link to comment

      My S6 edge had a real bamboo wood case and it charges fine

  • Charlie Big Balls Apr 23, 2015 Link to comment

    Aaaaaahhh, but your way you wouldn't get a nice kickback from 'Tylt' for the shameless promotion of their product .... all this article's missing is the word 'ADVERTISMENT' at the start!. David Nield, I just hope the free VÜ wireless charger sample was worth the price of your journalistic soul!

  • Rogue Tomato Apr 23, 2015 Link to comment

    "How to charge your phone wirelessly: Get a wireless charger." Okay, I earned my 5 bucks as a writer today.

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