With the exception of the iPhone 7 ($ 549 at Apple) every phone in Apple's current lineup supports wireless charging. No more futzing with Lightning cables (unless you want to), just lay the phone on a charging pad and presto: .
Bummer for those with older models, right? Wrong: For around $ 13, you can add wireless charging to almost any iPhone ($ 1,000 at Amazon) . And you know what? It works!
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Before Apple added the technology to iPhones (starting with the iPhone 8 ($ 599 at Walmart) and X), users had to rely on bulky, expensive, inconvenient backpack style cases from third-party companies.
Today, however, you can add wireless charging in the form of a razor-thin pad that sticks to the back of your phone. It does require full-time access to the Lightning port, but not at the expense of using your own case. And it's much easier to remove if necessary. Here's the result of my $ 13 experiment.
Is it really just $ 13?
If you hit Amazon for "Qi charging receiver iPhone," you'll find identical products from brands like Nillkin, SainSonic and YKing. (Yep, I never heard of them, either.)
Most of them are priced at $ 13- $ 14, though a few are available for as low as $ 10. You'll find them in the UK for £ 6- £ 11, and in Australia for AU $ 10-AU $ 16.
The one I'll recommend is this Qi receiver from Nillkin, if only because I tried both the iPhone and Android versions and found that they worked well. Indeed, the laugh has been attached to a backup phone for about a year, and so far, so good.
See it at Amazon
You can use these receivers with pretty much any Qi charging pad or stand, though I definitely recommend getting one with at least two coils, just to make sure you don't accidentally miss the "sweet" when you lay your phone down. (More coils means more wireless-charging surface area.)
How fast is charging?
I fully expected inductive charging to take longer than cable-powered charging. No wires must mean a more trickle of juice, right?
Wrong. When I first conducted these tests (in September 2017), I played videos on an iPhone 5S ($ 89 at Walmart) until the battery went dead, then charged it using an Invitian charging receiver and a Seneo charging pad. Total time to get to 100 percent: just over 2 hours. That's almost exactly how long it takes with a Lightning cable.
Your mileage absolutely can and may vary – depending on whether you use a case, and how thick that case is.
My first test was without a case. But then I dropped it back onto the phone (and over the receiver) and was happy to see that it fit perfectly. That's because the receiver itself is barely thicker than a piece of paper, and the ribbon connecting the Lightning plug is narrow and flexible.
Charging seemed to work just as well, though I'll admit I didn't see it if the case slowed down the process.
I strongly recommend using a case, not just for drop-protection purposes, but also because there is only a narrow strip of adhesive holding the receiver to the back of your phone. There's nothing to keep the edges down or the ribbon cable protected. I feel like a lot of sliding in and out of pockets or purses will take a toll.
Indeed, if you use a case, you do not need to use the adhesive: The receiver will just stay pressed to the back of the phone where it needs to be. But it does make it harder to plug the connector you need to do so. There's just no easy way to grab it.