“Wireless” charging is possible with the iPhones 8, 8 Plus, and X. Doing so might seem as simple as just tossing the handset onto a charging mat, and largely it is. But there are some tips to make sure charging works as expected, and several things to avoid to make sure your phone ends up full in the morning.
Wireless charging isn’t so easy
Contact charging, aka “wireless” charging juices your battery using a pad touching the back of the phone, instead of through a plug touching the inside of the lightning port. You cannot just leave you iPhone in your pocket, for example, and have it get charged, so it isn’t like wireless internet.
The charging works by magnetic induction. When power is passed through a coil of wire in the pad, it creates a magnetic field. If another coil enters that field, it induces an electric current in the second coil (like the one inside the new iPhones), which can then be passed on to the battery.
The catch is that the phone has to be placed just-so on the mat in order for this magnetic field to induce power in the iPhone’s coil. So, that’s lesson one — you can’t just toss the phone too the mat and have it “just work.” You have to place the handset carefully. How carefully? In Apple’s own support document on the subject, it notes that the vibration caused by an incoming notification is enough to knock it out of alignment. “If this happens often,” says Apple, “consider turning off vibration, turning on Do Not Disturb, or using a case to prevent movement.”
That brings us to lesson two: cases. If you use one, make sure it’s thin. Induction charging relies on the pad’s coil and the phone’s coil being close together, so a thick case can slow charging way down. A metal case is a complete no-no, as it interferes with the magnetic field. So, a thin, grippy case is best.
Wireless magnetic fields may zap your credit cards
If your case contains RFID chips or magnets, then these can be damaged, and can interfere with charging. And if you have a wallet case, remove all credit cards, because these could also be zapped by the magnetic field.
The next lesson is heat. Your iPhone will heat up as it charges, but if the charging is inefficient due to any of the above problems, then the iPhone may get too hit. If the iPhone senses that its battery is overheating, it will limit charging to 80%.
And finally, there may be a faint noises coming from the charger and phone, which may disturb you if left on the nightstand.
Other than that, wireless charging is pretty good. You might want to rethink your strategy on charging, though, before you start buying Ikea lamps with Qi pads in their bases, as the overnight-on-the-nightstand model isn’t looking so good. Between the phone vibrating itself off the pad, overheating causing a maximum 80% charge, and all the noise of the buzzing pad next to your head as you sleep, not might be easier just to plug the phone into a charger like in the olden days.