With AirPower missing, these are the best wireless chargers

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Updated Mon January 28, 2019

Apple's AirPower, described as a three-in-one wireless charging pad, was announced back in September 2017 alongside the iPhone X and was promised to ship in 2018. Its genius and appeal came in the form of simplicity. AirPower is a sleek white pad with a Lightning connector for power. Most importantly, it could charge an iPhone, an Apple Watch and AirPods, all at once.

The sad part is that now it's 2019, and AirPower is still nowhere to be found.

While Apple has stayed silent, reports are that it's hard to make a charging pad that allows for a device to be placed anywhere to get power, let alone three at once. Fear not though -- just because AirPower isn't here, it doesn't mean you need to wait any longer to shop for a versatile wireless charger that will support fast charging.

What to look for in a wireless charger

There's a huge selection of chargers out there. In the time since Apple started including wireless charging, accessory manufacturers have released a ton of them. It's a very competitive market, with Mophie, Belkin, Anker, Nomad, Nimble, TwelveSouth, Samsung and many others all wanting you to choose theirs.

Circular pads might be the rage, but wireless chargers also come in stands, photo frames, two-in-ones, and even combination docks. Materials range from plastic to leather and even metal. Luckily none of these surfaces should heat up too much, thanks to the wireless charging coil technology. Manufacturers have to spend a good chunk of time making sure performance is up to par along with the user experience. The last thing you want is a wireless charger that gets too hot to use.

Charging speed matters

Like a typical charging brick and cable, a wireless charger can only charge as fast as the amount of power it's receiving. Normal charging versus fast charging can make a significant difference, but you need to be precise when choosing your model. You'll need to make sure the included power brick can deliver enough watts for fast charging.

For instance, Apple includes a 5-watt charger with every iPhone, which is pretty slow. Sure, it can charge your phone fully overnight, but there are ways to get a charge faster and more easily, with no hassle of plugging the cable in when used with a wireless charger. You'll need to upgrade to an Apple 12-Watt Charger ($14.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com) or a third-party solution like the Anker Elite Dual Port USB Charger ($10.99; amazon.com) to deliver enough power.

Depending on the wireless charger you decide to get, it may include a power brick. While a brick might seem unnecessary for a wireless charger, it's a critical piece of the equation to deliver enough power for fast charging. Many of our top picks below do include a brick.

Here are our top picks

Anker 10W Wireless Charging Stand ($19.99, originally $25.99; amazon.com)

This charging stand packs a punch with affordability at just $19.99 and offers speeds up to 10 watts. It's a plastic stand that works with iPhones and any phones that meet the Qi wireless charging standard of at least 7.5 watts. You can place your phone either horizontally or vertically, and it works with most cases. The one downside is it doesn't include a power brick, so you will need to provide your own.

Mophie Charge Stream Desk Stand ($69.95; amazon.com)

This made-for-iPhone stand has a sturdy metal base with a charging pad that slides in. You can adjust the height, making it perfect for those with an XS or XS Max. A charging cable and power brick are included in the box. It can charge at up to 10 watts out of the box.

Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad ($58; amazon.com)

This refreshed take on the original circular wireless charging pad has a sleeker design and faster charging. Belkin includes a 5-foot cable and a power brick that delivers up to 10 watts of power. Like the Anker above, this can deliver a charge through most cases. Plus, Belkin offers it in black, white, or pink!

Twelve South PowerPic ($60.01, originally $89.99; amazon.com)

If you want to be super sly or have a more stylish way to prop your phone on a nightstand or table, the PowerPic from Twelve South might be perfect. It looks like a typical 5-by-7 photo frame, but it packs a 10-watt wireless charger behind the photo. You can swap the picture out and have it match your phone's lock screen.

Mophie Charge Stream PowerStation Wireless (6,040mAh- $76, originally $79.95; amazon.com) (10,000mAh- $99.95; amazon.com)

If you want a wireless charger that doubles as a portable battery pack, look no further than the Charge Stream PowerStation Wireless from Mophie. It packs a USB-A and a USB-C port with either a 6,040mAh or 10,000mAh battery. The cool factor gets turned up to 10 with a Qi-enabled front side that lets you lay your phone down to charge it.

Nimble Wireless Dual Pad ($49.95; amazon.com)

While AirPower promised the ability to charge three devices at once, the Nimble Wireless Dual Pad gets you more than halfway there. With two fast charging coils, you can charge two devices at once on this eco-friendly pad. Nimble also includes a fast charging power brick and USB-C cable. This way you can get charging as soon as you open the box.

Nomad Wireless Charging Base Station Hub Edition ($99.95; amazon.com)

This sleek leather charging pad allows you to wirelessly power two devices, plus plug in two additional devices through USB-A and USB-C ports. It's a full four-in-one, since it also has a dedicated power port on the back. Like the Nimble pad, Nomad is using recycled leather for an eco-friendly design. Whether you charge hardwired or wirelessly, all of these outputs meet the fast-charging standard.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.