The iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X have the freedom to wirelessly juice themselves up, while older Apple handsets must remain tethered to your bedroom wall. But with a simple phone attachment, the iPhones from yesteryear can break their shackles and dive into the future of wireless charging.
For starters, there are two major types of wireless charging tech: Qi and Powermat. According to a 2016 study by GM Insights, Qi — an inductive form of wireless charging — dominated a little over half the market. Newer iPhones all make use of this standard and Apple’s upcoming wireless charging station, the AirPower, will also be based on this tech.
To achieve its charge, Qi uses two induction coils that generate an electromagnetic field to transfer energy. The charging station uses power from an outlet to create the field, which is then beamed to the device’s coil that converts it back into electric current to refill its battery. Basically, all older iPhones are missing is that thin receiver coil.
How to Wirelessly Charge Older iPhone Models
Luckily, wireless charging adapters can be incredibly cheap and light weight. They’re almost like a sticker that you place on the back of your phone and connect to the Lightning port. They can be as cheap as $7 on Amazon and can slip behind pretty much any case.
The downside with these adapters is that they’re fragile and need a case to protect them, though that case may lead them to suffer from connectivity issues depending on how thick the case is.
For that reason, you may be better off spending a little bit more and spring for one of the many wireless charing cases that come with an induction coil built in. Prices vary widely with these cases, some are priced close to $10 on Amazon while others can be $50.
Apple’s AirPower is expected to launch this September and if you want to be able to test it out using an older iPhone you’re going to have to step up your Qi game.