Even though I learned the scientific principle behind it as part of my university education, being able to wirelessly charge a device still feels like magic. So I have been pretty excited that the last few Nexus devices support the Qi standard and can be charged wirelessly. I had considered buying the official Google Qi charger because of the magic, but when I thought about it more, it really is spending $50 for the convenience of not plugging in your phone every night.

So I waited until Qi chargers started appearing cheap on the Chinese sites. They have had them for awhile, but it was only in the last few months that they’ve fallen to around the $10 mark. So far I’ve bought 4 Qi chargers and my experience has not been that great.

The first one I bought was on a slant, so that it could work like a dock for your phone when it was charging. I thought it might make my phone more useful as a clock (or at least use the daydream mode). I knew that it would not magnetically hold my phone (like the official charger), but use some sort of anti-slip material. It turns out that anti-slip material was a form of glue/tape that eventually loses its grip. Since the position really matters (and affects energy transfer), this ended up in the garbage quickly.

Next I bought one that was like a hockey puck. This worked fairly well for awhile and I used it as a bedside charger. But the positioning of the phone started making a difference after awhile. Some mornings I would wake up and my phone would only have been charged slightly (annoying) or not at all (useless). Most nights it would be ok – but because it is possibly unreliable, I can’t trust it. I suppose I should have just spent the money on the magnetic one, but I didn’t because I wanted a couple of chargers.

I got a rectangular pad with a larger footprint (similar size to a phablet) for my desk and that has worked fairly well. I find it more useful than plugging my phone in, not because I’m too lazy to plug my phone in there, but because it prevents my phone from being recognized in ADB when I don’t want to deploy apps to it. This has been my most successful use of a Qi adapter.

Finally, I got another puck shaped one and put it in the living room in case I needed to charge my phone there. This again worked for awhile (although I didn’t use it too much) until it decided to burn out or otherwise not function any more. Again it became useless.

I won’t even get in the fact that Qi charging is not 100% efficient and is thus slower than actually plugging the phone in. But ignoring that, my experience with Qi has been much less than magical.