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Budget Wireless Charger Showdown: 5 Qi Chargers all $11 - $15

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By mmmmBACON, Senior Member on 10th March 2014, 01:38 AM
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Quote:

**EDIT: If you're looking for a good way to power these Qi chargers without having to worry about finding a good USB cable, or a good AC adapter, see my Folding Blade Charger thread here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/goog...arger-t2729066




So, if you’ve read some of my other accessory review threads you probably already know something about me. I generally don’t care about brand names (except if a proper NEXUS branded hardcase existed), have no brand loyalty, and I generally like to look for deals! I fit in the category of “best bang for the buck!” I guess that’s why I own a Nexus 5, and love those $0.99 Quicksand cases! I wanted to see if the mentality of high quality for low price could be applied to other accessories as well.

So here I have 5 different Qi chargers (well 10 actually, slight wireless charging addiction, I have 2 of each type). All of these share one common aspect, LOW price. Each of these Qi chargers ranged in price from just over $11 to just under $15 shipped. They all share the same DC 5V 1A output current, and only differ in input current. Two chargers require input of DC 5V 1.5A, and the other three require input of DC 5V 2A. None of these are brand name Qi chargers, but again, that doesn’t concern me. If the charger is of high quality, has good performance, and a low price; I don’t care what brand name is stamped on it. I’m going for best bang for the buck, not brand recognition.

These chargers also do not come in retail packaging as they are generally sold directly from factory. To keep costs down, they are simply mailed in bubble wrap packaging, and sold without any extras. As they are also coming from overseas, expect shipping time of about 3 weeks.

Setup:

So this isn’t going to be overly scientific, but it will give a nice ballpark figure of roughly how each Qi charger performs.

The first thing I did was replaced the USB cables. The included cables that come with Qi chargers are generally crap and won’t support a high current. Usually they are limited to 500mA and below when wired charging, so wireless would probably be even worse.

For each test the phone was brought down to 14% battery remaining (when the “connect charger” popup warning appeared). I didn’t choose 0% – 100% as I never let my phone battery drain completely (I usually don’t even let it get down to 14%). The phone was then turned off for 5 minutes to let it cool down. Once the phone was rebooted, no applications were launched, and the phone was placed in airplane mode. During charging, the screen was turned on momentarily every 15 minutes to check progress, but otherwise remained off.

To minimize any possible interference between the charger and the phone, no cases were used on the phone during any of the charging cycles. This was to make sure the phone made direct contact with the chargers and the receiver in the phone was as close to the coils as possible.

To make sure that it was only the Qi chargers being tested; the same 2A micro USB AC adapter was used with each of the 5 Qi chargers. Yes, the picture above has them each plugged into their own individual power adapters, but I just did that for the picture! To eliminate the possibility of slight variations between AC adapters; I used the same one for all of the chargers. This would also ensure that regardless of if the Qi charger required 1.5A input, or 2A input, the AC adapter would fully power all of the Qi chargers.

Summary:

- 2A micro USB AC Adapter (same one used for all chargers)
- Qi chargers (from left to right): Rectangle w/o LEDs, Tilted, Q8, Q5, Rectangle w/LEDs (all in the $11 - $15 shipped range)
- Replaced included USB cables with better USB cables
- 14% Battery at start
- Airplane Mode



Quote:

Qi Charger - Rectangle w/o LEDs



Price: $11.42 (at time of purchase) (Currently: $8.77)
Input: DC 5V 2A
Output: DC 5V 1A
Link: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Qi-Wireless-...item2eca536173


Description:

This was the cheapest of all of the Qi chargers I purchased (I believe it’s even cheaper now). It is also the largest of all of the Qi chargers I’ve got. I’m not going to lie, it doesn’t scream premium by any stretch of the imagination. It’s very light and hollow, mediocre build quality, uses a quite cheap plastic casing, and when I popped it open, there is almost nothing inside of it. So they could have made it much smaller, but I won’t complain about that, it’s stable and can fit any size phone without having to balance anything. It also does not contain a speaker, so there is no annoying beep coming from the charger when you place your phone on it.

The area of recognition is also pretty forgiving. You can just place the phone down roughly on the middle of the charger and it will pick up the phone and charge without any issues. The “Q5” Charger (shaped like a puck) for example, is a bit pickier and requires more care with phone placement, or it may not recognize that the phone is on the charger.

Performance wise, despite being the cheapest of the lot, it almost took top spot for overall charging time. So while this charger won’t win any awards for best in class build quality, I can’t argue with the results. This charger does its job pretty well. It’s simple, straight forward, and easy to use. Don't expect to be impressed at all when you pick it up though.

One drawback (depends on your preference) is that there is no LED on the charger at all. So the only way you will know it is connected, is from the sound your phone makes when you place it on the charger (or looking at the screen of course).

Time:

00:00:00 – 14%
00:15:00 – 24% (+10%)
00:30:00 – 35% (+11%)
00:45:00 – 46% (+11%)
01:00:00 – 55% (+09%)
01:15:00 – 64% (+09%)
01:30:00 – 73% (+09%)
01:45:00 – 80% (+07%)
02:00:00 – 88% (+08%)
02:03:01 – 90% (Good time to stop during the day)
02:15:00 – 94% (+06%)
02:30:00 – 98% (+04%)
02:35:32 – 100%


Highest Current Recorded: 766mA

Build Quality: Mediocre/Average
Performance: Excellent
Price (at time of purchase): Excellent

Quote:

Qi Charger - Tilted



Price: $14.83 (At time of purchase) (Currently: $9.82)
Input: DC 5V 2A
Output: DC 5V 1A
Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Description:

I made a whole other thread about this charger a while back. There’s already a lot of info and discussion about this one there. So if you want to read up on that, here is the thread: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2611246

It provided the highest current of all of the Qi chargers. The overall charging time though, placed it in 3rd place. This was negligible really, as the top 3 chargers all completed charging within the same minute of each other.

Time:

00:00:00 – 14%
00:15:00 – 24% (+10%)
00:30:00 – 35% (+11%)
00:45:00 – 45% (+10%)
01:00:00 – 55% (+10%)
01:15:00 – 64% (+09%)
01:30:00 – 72% (+08%)
01:45:00 – 79% (+07%)
02:00:00 – 87% (+08%)
02:05:51 – 90% (Good time to stop during the day)
02:15:00 – 93% (+06%)
02:30:00 – 98% (+05%)
02:35:47 – 100%


Highest Current Recorded: 796mA

Build Quality: Average
Performance: Excellent
Price (at time of purchase): Good

Quote:

Qi Charger – Q8



Quote:

There seems to be reports of different versions of this charger now appearing, with possibly different build quality and performance... Some with a slightly different design, and some with a Red LED which operates differently than the one I tested. I can only vouch for the specific charger I used. Do your own research on this charger/sellers please before ordering, as I have no experience with any of the other versions.

I suggest if you are hesitating on this, to choose the "Rectangle w/LEDs" at the bottom of my list. It is built well, has excellent performance, and a very good area of recognition. It also has a nice large surface to fit any size phone and tablet stably.

Price: $12.00 (At time of purchase) (Currently: $12.80)
Input: DC 5V 1.5A
Output: DC 5V 1A
Link: They no longer carry the version I used in this review, and all reports of the new version (w/red LED) point to it being of lesser performance. I have removed the link. If you still would like a Q8, please do your own search and infer with the seller as to which version they carry.


Description:

I really like the design of this charger. It’s not super tiny but also not huge, and it’s got a classier look to it. It is a shiny plastic, so it does pick up fingerprints pretty easily. The overall design is very minimalist and unobtrusive, so it blends in nicely with the surroundings. It is also the thinnest of the Qi chargers in the bunch, and is slightly thinner than the Nexus 5! The build quality is solid and well made, no creaking, and does not feel as if it can be damaged easily.

It contains a blue LED that isn’t blindingly bright. It is on all the time when powered, and flashes all the time when a phone is connected. The unfortunate part about the LED is that it does not stop blinking when the phone reaches 100% charge, the LED continues to blink regardless of if it is charging or not. So in this case, the LED is only an indication of a connected phone, not whether or not the phone is charging. On the plus side, it is a softer blue light, so it does not disturb me either way.

Another thing about this charger is that there is no rubber top or a non-slip surface that prevents the phone from moving around. So putting the Naked Nexus 5 on the charger, with its slightly curved back, allows the phone to rock around a bit (a TPU case, bumper, flat case will remedy this). The 2 larger rectangle Qi chargers (w/o LEDs and w/ LEDs) also do not have rubber/non-slip surfaces, but since they are larger chargers, there is more surface area for stability. There is still no problem with charging, and the recognition area is pretty good, but it’s something to keep in mind.

The performance of this charger is excellent. While it didn’t provide the highest current at any given time, it was the fastest overall charger (again, we’re talking only seconds between 1st and 3rd place).

Time:

00:00:00 – 14%
00:15:00 – 24% (+10%)
00:30:00 – 35% (+11%)
00:45:00 – 44% (+09%)
01:00:00 – 54% (+10%)
01:15:00 – 63% (+09%)
01:30:00 – 71% (+08%)
01:45:00 – 78% (+07%)
02:00:00 – 86% (+08%)
02:05:27 – 90% (Good time to stop during the day)
02:15:00 – 93% (+07%)
02:30:00 – 98% (+05%)
02:35:12 – 100%


Highest Current Recorded: 770mA

Build Quality: Excellent
Performance: Excellent
Price (at time of purchase): Excellent

Quote:

Qi Charger – Q5



Price: $12.80 (At time of purchase) (Currently: $11.91)
Input: DC 5V 1.5A
Output: DC 5V 1A
Link: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Qi-Wireless-...item2ecaf65ffa


Description:

This is a Qi charger that I’m sure many people here already have. It’s small, solid, and built decently. The rubber ring on the top prevents the phone from moving around excessively, but if you have a large phone it still can wiggle around a bit. Turning the screen on, or checking the phone when it is on the charger can be a bit tricky, but no big deal. Really, all you need to do with these chargers is pick up the phone, do your thing, and then put it back down. The rubber ring really does help with such a small charger to keep things relatively stable.

This particular version of the puck charger did not contain a speaker (lucky me) so I did not have to take it apart to disconnect it. It also contains a blue LED, but unlike the Q8 charger above, this Q5 charger contains an LED that is ridiculously bright… If you look at it directly, it is actually quite painful. I put black electrical tape over it out of necessity and eye protection. Like the Q8 charger, this LED blinks when the phone is connected, but also does not stop blinking when it reaches 100%. So again, the blinking light is only to signify a phone is connected to the charger.

The area of recognition for this charger is not as large as the others. It does require more careful placement to ensure the charger recognizes that the phone is connected. If it is a little off centre, it may not connect, or it may connect but charge at a slower speed. This is a bit unfortunate as sometimes it will make the connection sound and begin charging, but does so slowly. You may leave it on for half an hour and realize it has only charged 5% or so. I found that with this particular charger, I would find myself using CurrentWidget quite often just to see if it was providing the proper current.

The performance of the Q5 is okay when it connects properly. But I found myself using it less than the others because I had to be more careful with how I placed the phone on it. It also, unfortunately took the bottom spot in overall charging time, a little over 2 minutes slower than the Q8 in 1st place. Of course, 2 minutes isn’t exactly a high performance delta, but it is the widest margin so far.

Time:

00:00:00 – 14%
00:15:00 – 23% (+09%)
00:30:00 – 34% (+11%)
00:45:00 – 43% (+09%)
01:00:00 – 53% (+10%)
01:15:00 – 63% (+10%)
01:30:00 – 71% (+09%)
01:45:00 – 77% (+08%)
02:00:00 – 85% (+08%)
02:06:12 – 90% (Good time to stop during the day)
02:15:00 – 91% (+06%)
02:30:00 – 97% (+06%)
02:37:29 – 100%


Highest Current Recorded: 768mA

Build Quality: Average/Good
Performance: Average (due to recognition)
Price (at time of purchase): Excellent


Quote:

Qi Charger - Large Rectangle w/LEDs:



Price: $12.00 (At time of purchase) (Currently: $9.13)
Input: DC 5V 2A
Output: DC 5V 1A
Link: http://www.ebay.com/itm/QI-Wireless-...item2336715c7c


Description:

This was the very first Qi charger I bought back at the launch of the Nexus 5. It has a nice large platform and subtle Red and Green LEDs beneath the top cover. When there is no power you do not know that there are LEDs present, but they lightly shine through the casing when powered on. A second Green LED lights up when the phone is connected. There are no flashing LEDs. Red means it is powered on, Green means a phone is connected.

With a larger Qi charger casing, it means it is easier for the phone to stay stable. Just put it down and that’s it. The area of recognition is also very good on this charger. Like the other Rectangle charger, or the Q8, just place the phone roughly in the middle and it is recognized with no issues. I found that with the size of this charger, and the gentle LEDs facing upward, that it was a good charger to place by my bed. When half asleep, or when it’s dark, just roughly place the phone down generally in the middle and don’t worry about it.

The charger is built decently. Not spectacular, but better than the other rectangle Qi charger. It has good rubber feet, and grilled venting beneath it as well. While the top also does not have a rubber lining or non-slip surface, it is quite a large surface so there are no issues with instability. The performance is good and while it didn’t make the top 3 in overall charge time, it still came in a respectable 4th, around 1 minute behind.

Time:

00:00:00 – 14%
00:15:00 – 24% (+10%)
00:30:00 – 35% (+11%)
00:45:00 – 46% (+11%)
01:00:00 – 55% (+09%)
01:15:00 – 64% (+09%)
01:30:00 – 72% (+08%)
01:45:00 – 80% (+08%)
02:00:00 – 88% (+08%)
02:05:11 – 90% (Good time to stop during the day)
02:15:00 – 93% (+05%)
02:30:00 – 98% (+05%)
02:36:19 – 100%


Highest Current Recorded: 770mA

Build Quality: Good
Performance: Good/Excellent
Price (at time of purchase): Excellent

Conclusions:



So what do we actually get from all of this? Well to put it simply, in terms of performance, any Qi charger that is rated at 1A output is going to perform almost identically to one another! If the Qi charger is properly powered and utilizes a good USB cable, it will charge (from 14% - 100%) in roughly two and a half hours.

I mentioned 1st place through 5th place, but really the time difference between all of these Qi chargers was around 2 minutes. The top 3 chargers all finished within 32 seconds of one another. That is extremely consistent and shows that it makes no difference what charger you have, or the price of the charger; if it’s rated at 1A output your performance will generally be the same.

So in my opinion, save yourself a ton of money, and don’t fall for the marketing of expensive Qi chargers. The large markup you see on some chargers, costing $40 - $70 is ridiculous as there is NO performance advantage. Just make sure you look for a charger that provides 1A output, and go from there as that is the only real important criteria.

Of course if you’re going for a charger that’s flashy and you want it to be noticed, then this doesn’t really apply to you. Also, you wouldn’t be in the market for best “bang for the buck” anyway.

As for the 5 types I listed here, do they satisfy my bang for the buck mentality? In terms of price, all of them are pretty good, with regards to performance per dollar. The “Tilted” charger being the most “expensive” at the time provided the least bang for the buck, but as it sells for $12.94 now, it’s up there with the rest of them.

Why quit charging at 90?

I said this as a consideration, mostly for if you are busy during the day. If you noticed, with all of the Qi chargers, as soon as the phone reached 90% charge, to complete the remaining 10% generally took an additional 30+ minutes. The current is greatly reduced and the phone tops up slowly. When you are sleeping, and charging your phone overnight, it’s no problem to let it sit there. During the day though, that extra 30+ minutes just to complete the last 10% charge doesn’t really seem worth it.

So, during the day, if you’re busy and charging your phone, quit when it hits 90% and be on your way!


Qi Chargers and Sellers used by other XDA Members:


@keepermike - http://www.aliexpress.com/item/New-2...868057244.html ($6.39US)
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10th March 2014, 01:42 AM |#2  
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Great review once again and definitely looking forward to getting one of those puck chargers. Right now I have a generic square one like your black one but in white.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
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10th March 2014, 01:57 AM |#3  
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Thanks.

The puck is a good charger (they all are really). You just need to learn the positioning of the phone a bit better than the other ones.

I do like that rubber ring though! I wish all of the other flat ones had them as well.
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10th March 2014, 03:40 AM |#4  
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Wow, very precise and descriptive presentation.

I appreciate the time and effort to get us the results.

Now I'm just debating whether to buy a cheap Qi charger or the Lugalake which doubles as a powerbank...

(1st world problems..lol)

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10th March 2014, 03:41 AM |#5  
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Would you be willing to compare these chargers against a name brand one. You can grab a nokia dt900 for about $12.50 these days...

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10th March 2014, 04:51 AM |#6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jooosty

Wow, very precise and descriptive presentation.

I appreciate the time and effort to get us the results.

Now I'm just debating whether to buy a cheap Qi charger or the Lugalake which doubles as a powerbank...

(1st world problems..lol)

Sent from my Nexus 5 using xda app-developers app

Well those are totally different markets haha. That Lugalake looks to be a beast though. If you do need a battery bank as well, and have a need to charge wireless/multiple devices on the go, it looks to be a nice piece of kit.

If you just need something at home or the office, I'd say save yourself some money and just get a cheap one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MordyT

Would you be willing to compare these chargers against a name brand one. You can grab a nokia dt900 for about $12.50 these days...

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

I'd be willing to do that sure, but the Nokia dt900 isn't that cheap here in Canada. It's a minimum 2x - 3x the price, without shipping or taxes added. Way out of my bang for the buck range haha.

Also, the dt900 has a rated output of 750mA. That's 250mA less than all of the 1A output Qi chargers I reviewed above. Of course, I can't do a direct comparison without having a dt900 on hand; but from the rated output and the known efficiency of Qi chargers, the dt900 would most likely charge quite a bit slower.

1A output was pretty much the main point I was mentioning when choosing a Qi charger. Basically as long as you have that, the performance is relatively equal between all Qi chargers.
10th March 2014, 05:22 AM |#7  
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Thanks, @mmmmBACON! I already have two Nokia DT-900s and one rectangle with LEDs. All work great with my Nexus 5 but obviously the Nokia chargers cannot be beat in terms of build quality.

Do you happen to have a Nexus 4 you can use to test with these chargers?
10th March 2014, 07:07 AM |#8  
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Is it just me or is the Q8 a lot more expensive now?
10th March 2014, 07:14 AM |#9  
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Which one has the smallest insides? I want to buy one to take apart and embed in something (probably my desk).
10th March 2014, 09:00 AM |#10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matteotom

Which one has the smallest insides? I want to buy one to take apart and embed in something (probably my desk).

The pcb is generally smaller than coil+shielding. As design A5/A11 (see qi-specification) is widely used the coil has a diameter of 43mm. the shielding has to be 5mm bigger in radius. You need 53mmx53mm at least.

back to topic:
i own the Q8 and the Rectangle with LED.
both work just the same.

Also, don't get fooled with more expensive offerings of those chargers. It is just the same charger on a higher price.
I've seen the Q8 for more than 30 bucks on amazon.

EDIT: it seems i have the rectangle charger without LEDs but with LEDs
I took it apart, so no pictures of my own. It is labeled as "LERWAY"
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10th March 2014, 11:09 AM |#11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JCreazy

Is it just me or is the Q8 a lot more expensive now?

Here it is for $15.
http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Hot-B...520655178.html
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