What is the full scoop on the iPhone 8’s wireless charging feature?
Wireless charging on the iPhone 8 – How useful is it?
iPhone 8 and 8 Plus finally have wireless charging! Will it be another blunder like the wireless headphone jacks or a feature that can actually make our iPhone experience better? Here’s an in depth look on how Qi-chargers fare on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, from how it works to its range and limitations.
- What is Qi-wireless charging?
- Do you need Qi-wireless charging?
- Galaxy S8 wireless fast charge vs. iPhone 8
- What are the charge speeds?
- What cases will work with Qi-chargers?
- What Qi-charger should you get?
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The QI-wireless charging is a standard used by most wireless charging devices. The charger is based on inductive power transfer. The Qi-wireless charger has a base with a transmitter coil while the iPhone has a receiver coil. The transmitter coil generates an electromagnetic field that induces a current in the receiver’s coil.
Every Qi-wireless setup looks the same. You have a pad that contains the transmitter coil that is plugged into the wall. Some products look better and feel heavier but Qi chargers can be very simple looking. The coil itself doesn’t need to be very big as you can see on the image below.
The Qi wireless standard allows for wattage up to 15 watts which would be three times what your normal iPhone charger is. However based on our testing, the charger didn’t make a difference in the charge speeds, Certain products will also require you to use a larger charger like the Spigen Qi-charger but for different reasons.
To use the Qi-wireless charger with your iPhone 8. all you have to do is put your iPhone over the center of the charging base and walk away. Just make sure you put it in the center of the pad or else it won’t work. Even if you’re off by a little bit, your iPhone will not get its full charge despite your phone saying it’s charging. You also cannot charge your iPhone face down. This is going to be a problem for one-handed and gaming cases.
We also tested the distance or gap your iPhone can charge using the Qi-charger. We stacked business cards on the chargers and tried to charge our iPhone on it. We found out that the iPhone 8 reliably charged at a gap of 8 mm with some chargers allowing for 11.5 mm. This is a large difference on what the Qi-charger advertised with 30 mm gap on older chargers and 45 mm gap on the newer chargers. If you’re wondering if the cards might have interfered with the charging, it didn’t.
There is also another standard for wireless charging called PowerMat that is gaining popularity. However the PowerMat still fails to reach the popularity of Qi as an industry standard. We personally believe that after a couple of years the manufacturers will merge both standards into their products so there’s no need to worry.
The short answer is no. As of now, it feels like an extra feature. However, Apple seems to be moving away from cables completely so maybe in the near future it wouldn’t be.
But if you really want the full iPhone 8 and X experience, get a Qi-charger. As a rule of thumb your Qi-charger placement would be anywhere you and your phone spend a lot of time together like the night stand, lamp table near your lounging chair, your desk and maybe even your kitchen.
Our biggest complaint for the Qi-charger is its size. You need to find a place for the charger to sit on and it should be on a flat surface. Our desk is completely messy so looking for the charge pad would be extremely frustrating, It might have been bearable if the 30 mm range was realistic so we can just put down our iPhone in a general area and hope for a charge. However, that is not the case.
Just look at Samsung fast charge marketing shot above. Look at the size of that thing! Who would carry a puck that big around? Not to mention you still need to bring the adapter and cable to plug into the wireless charger. And you also need to find an outlet. It is honestly more complicated and more redundant than using your cord to charge.
Our second complaint is the fact that you can’t use the device when it’s charging. Trying to hold a Qi-charging puck while using your iPhone is a bad idea. If you’re gaming on your iPhone 8, there’s a good chance that your battery is going to drain quicker than the charge going into your iPhone from the Qi-charger.
As of right now, the S8 fast charging singlehandedly beats the regular wireless charging on the iPhone 8.
If you are like us who were excited about the idea of fast charge (and maybe bought far too many Qi-wireless chargers), you might have also been let down by this “feature”. Based on our testing, there wasn’t a difference on charge rates even when the products completely state they are “Fast Charge”
We dug a little bit deeper to find the cause. We found out that the Galaxy S8 wireless charging is based on 15 watts compared to the 5 watts of the iPhone 8. What this basically means is more watts means quicker charge times. However, it should be noted that both wireless charging is still not as fast as a wired connection.
We heard a rumour that Apple was going to up the wattage allowed with wireless charging from 5 watts to 7.5 watts which is a 50% increase. However, this “upgrade” is still going to be a slow way to charge your phone.
The speed between every charger has little to no difference. Every charger we used charged the same rate. On average, we would get 8-9 % every 30 mins. We tested this with multiple chargers from the two products at the Apple Store (the Belkin BoostUp and Mophie Charging Base), Anker 2.4 Amp charger, the Samsung Adaptive Fast Charger to miscellaneous cheap brands. We also did a speed test against a normal iPhone “wired” charger and the difference is very noticeable. In general, don’t use a Qi-charger on the iPhone 8 if you’re in a hurry.
If you want the fastest charge possible, you’ll need to get an Apple Laptop charger and their expensive USB-C to Lightning cable. It’s a scam and we have covered that issue here.
If you are curious between the charging rate between the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, the iPhone 8 has quicker charge than the 8 Plus. However, it should be noted that the iPhone 8 also has a smaller battery. The battery capacity on the iPhone 8 is about 1800 mah whereas the 8 Plus has 2700 mah.
The maximum range for the iPhone 8 to the Qi chargers is about 8-11mm which is a far cry from the 30mm-45mm. But at least not many cases are going to add 8-11mm of space between the back of your iPhone and the charger.
Even the large cases like the UAG Monarch and X-Doria Defense Lux will allow your iPhone to charge through the case. The Monarch even has a bit of metal on the case and it doesn’t interfere with the inductive power transfer.
The cases you are actually have more trouble charging your iPhone are the odd shaped cases like the Loopy or products like the Ungrip and PopSocket and the cases with magnets. However unlike the odd shaped cases that will only pose difficulty charging your iPhone face up, the magnet on some cases will actually interfere on the charge of the iPhone itself. This sort of makes sense as the inductive power charging is based on electromagnetic field so introducing another magnetic field would probably be bad for wireless charging.
The magnetic cases like iFace, Spigen Thin-Fit 360 (the one with Spigen’s Neodynamium magnets) and Evutec Aergo will not work on a wireless charger.That’s a bit of a let down for us because we really like our magnetic car mounts. If you’re going this route, you’ll need to pay attention to the type of magnetic car mount you get. Even Apple’s own smart battery case won’t allow you to wireless charge the iPhone through the battery case.
However, not all magnetic cases are made the same. The Mophie Force Hold which comes with a plethora of different magnetic accessories will allow you to charge the iPhone 8 through the case. The same can be said for the Uolo 2 in 1 Magnetic wallet case which is our highest rated wallet case for the iPhone 8. If you want to see what else we think are great iPhone cases, check out here to know more.
Even Budu, a modular case that uses smaller magnets doesn’t interfere with the iPhone 8’s wireless charging capability.
In general, a normal case with no extra functionality is going to be fine.
Out of the group of chargers we tested, we personally would use the Spigen charger. But we probably would only use it on our office, As stated above, our biggest complaint with the Qi-chargers is the extra size and the fact that it should be placed somewhere relatively flat.
The Spigen charger is a little different as it comes in three cores so you don’t need to be as careful when placing your iPhone 8 down. It will allow you to charge your phone in both landscape and portrait which is handy. Since the charge station isn’t flat, it doesn’t get lost in our messy desk. It also has a nice angle for you to glance at your iPhone instead of having to lord over the device like regular puck chargers.
Going beyond the Spigen Essential charger, we would go with the PicTek. Sure it’s light, looks cheap, is cheap and comes in a nondescript brown box. The PicTek has the biggest charging gap so if you want to charge your iPhone in a wallet case and don’t want to worry about taking cards out of the back, get the PicTek charger.
The thing to watch over for the next few months will be what AirPower is going to allow us to do. We believe Apple is focused on making everything as wire-free as possible which is a good thing. We know some people are still angry at the lack of headphone jacks but ever since going with BT headphones and AirPods, we haven’t missed the headphone jack at all.
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