Ikea’s dirt-cheap wireless charger is elusive for a reason [Review]

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The Livboj is under there somewhere.
The Livboj is under there somewhere.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

This is the Livboj, an inexpensive but hard-to-find Qi charging pad from Ikea. Last week, I visited my local Ikea to stock up on frozen cinnamon buns. I got lost, and found a stack of these amazing devices instead.

Despite its dirt-cheap price tag of 5 euros ($5.50), the Livboj is pretty great. So far I’ve experienced none of the problems other people report from far-more-expensive Qi pads. You should snap up one of these elusive chargers — if you’re lucky enough to spot one.

Ikea Livboj review

Ikea Livboj review: This cheap wireless charger comes without a cable or a charger.
Ikea’s Livboj comes without a cable or a charger.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Livboj is nothing but a Qi-charging disk. It requires that you supply your own 5-watt USB brick and a USB-C cable. (Yes, the sole input is USB-C.) A not-too-bright white LED comes on when the Livboj is actually charging your iPhone. That’s it, power-wise.

The unit itself is slim, unlike Ikea’s own cork-trimmed Nordmärke charger. It’s roughly the same thickness as an X-series iPhone in an Apple case. The base has a circular anti-slip rubber strip, and the top has a rubber cross inset into the plastic to stop the iPhone from slipping off. The Livboj comes in black or white.

Easy to use

The Livboj is dead easy to use. Just drop your iPhone on top of it. I encountered zero problems so far. The iPhone doesn’t vibrate itself off the sweet spot when alerts come in. In fact, the sweet spot seems to be pretty big. You can drop the iPhone quite far off center and it’ll still charge. I can’t bring myself to do that, though. As soon as I see a non-symmetrical charging situation, I’m compelled to straighten things up.

The unit is just a 5-watt charger, so Android users who can enjoy 10-watt charging might find it slow. But I don’t mind a slower charge. It’s so easy to just lay your iPhone onto the pad that it’ll be topped up little and often. And if you do need to mainline some juice directly into the battery, use a USB-C PD charger and a Lightning-to-USB-C cable to get maximum speed.

My iPhone charges fine in its leather Apple case or naked.

Livboj review: Conclusion

This is my first wireless charger, so I have nothing to compare it to. But it does its job with 100% reliability, costs less than an Ikea fixed-price lunch, and looks great on the desk. In fact, my only regret is that I didn’t buy more of them to dot around the house.

The only downside I can see is that it requires a USB-C cable, so you can’t use up all those micro-USB cables you have cluttering up the place. On the other hand, USB-C means you can slip this slimline disk into your travel pack, and use it with your iPad charger when traveling. That’s one less thing to carry.

Wait: There’s one more downside. The Livboj appears to suffer from sporadic availability. I can find it in many European stores (here’s Austria, for example), but I can’t find it in either the U.S. or U.K stores. It does seem that the bigger Nordmärke charger is the same unit packaged with a cork bumper, cable and charger, so the technical parts of this review should apply to that, too.