7 Questions About Wireless Charging With A Thick Smartphone Case

7 Questions About Wireless Charging With A Thick Smartphone Case

In previous articles, we have discussed The Importance of Smartphone Cases and how not using one is an unnecessary risk. A risk that leaves our expensive and most useful gadget vulnerable to damage and the elements.

Man Charging Smartphone Using Wireless Charging Pad At Home

In our view, smartphone cases are essential, and the stronger the case, the better. We have also written about Wireless Qi Chargers and how innovative they are. Allowing us to charge our smartphones in a convenient and unawkward way that is reminiscent of the iPod Docks we used to use but are so much more impressive from a technological standpoint.

Both of these items are incredibly useful, if not now, essential to our smartphone habits. The problem is there appears to be a conflict between the two. To some, using one may quite literally get in the way of using the other, but what’s the truth?

Is this a myth, or is there anything preventing wireless chargers and smartphone cases from coexisting? There are some falsehoods that need clearing up and some practical advice that will be useful for anybody looking to take advantage of wireless charging technology.

Please check out our popular article “How to Know if My Phone is 5G Ready.”

Here are 7 Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Wireless Charging In A Thick Smartphone Case:

Belkin Wireless Charger Website Case Thickness Information

1. How Thick is Impenetrable for Wireless Charging for Your Smartphone Case?

Most wireless charger manufacturers recommend not having a phone case thicker than 3 or 5 mm, which is 0.15 inches to 0.19 inches. One quarter ¼” or 0.25 inch equals 6.35 mm, which is actually pretty thick in the Cell Phone Case world.

Some (mm) Millimeter averages from Wikipedia:

1.0 mm – Diameter of a pinhead

1.5 mm – Length of average Flea

5 mm – Length of average Red Ant

2. Do I Need to Remove My Smartphone From Its Case In Order To Use A Wireless Charging Pad?

For certain smartphones, the user may need to take the phone out from its case in order to use a wireless charger. Those cases that are on the lighter side almost always pick up a signal, but there are concerns that the thicker cases can struggle.

As an example, imagine you were to place your Smartphone inside a closed tin or wrap it in layers of masking tape. Then yes, this would indeed cause the phone to struggle to pick up a signal. It’s important to point out, however, that in order for a phone to be charged by a wireless charger, it doesn’t necessarily need to be touching it.

Where these items may reflect the convenience of the old iPod docks, they don’t actually work the same way. Many of the older charging docks did require the user to remove the phone from any bulky case it was in, but this isn’t always the case with wireless chargers. There are plenty of reports of those using wireless chargers without needing to remove their phones from a case. As long as they place the Smartphone on the pad or stand, it works just as well, case or no case.

So, it’s hard to say a straight yes or no to this question; it may depend on the phone, the case, and the wireless charger. All three are independent variables that each make a difference to the result. Overall though, smartphones shouldn’t need to be taken out of their case to take advantage of something they do not need to touch, just simply be close to.

3. How Do Wireless Chargers Work?

Essentially wireless chargers work by using electromagnetism. Using electromagnetic induction”, wireless chargers transfer energy wirelessly to nearby batteries that are compatible with the technology. Not all batteries are. Only batteries from certain more modern cell phones work with wireless charging technology. But it’s reasonable to assume more and more will as time goes on. More phones are being equipped with batteries that work with this technology than before.

Both Apple and Samsung have committed to it and are making their phones with this technology in mind; however, they have yet to create their own chargers. This means we still need to purchase one from a third-party manufacturer, but luckily there are lots of quality wireless chargers already on the market, and chances are more will appear in time.

4. Do Cases Affect Compatibility?

Potentially, as we discussed above, the case could be detrimental to usage alongside a wireless charging pad or stand, but not as a general rule. Smartphones are designed to be in cases and stay in them. Wireless charging pads are designed for ease and convenience, so they generally shouldn’t affect the way they work, even if there is a case on the phone. But all cases are different; the average case shouldn’t pose a problem. However, some phone cases are incredibly bulky, and some unnecessarily so. These could be so thick that they do create a barrier between the wireless charging current and the Smartphone itself.

Woman’s hand holding a smart mobile phone.

The good news is that wireless charging technology is always improving, and it’s likely to replace traditional charging altogether at some point in the future. Manufacturers know that smartphone users rely on cases for protection, so they will always be striving to make sure the wireless chargers they create can be used on even the thickest smartphone case. This means that a wireless charger and a quality cell phone case are both worthwhile investments; one is unlikely to cancel out the other except in extreme circumstances.

5. Does A Thick Case Affect The Quantity Of Time It Takes To Charge The Smartphone?

Not at all; if the phone case you are using charges when used alongside the wireless charging technology while in its case, then you can leave it as it is. Taking the Smartphone out of its case in an effort to get it closer” to the wireless pad shouldn’t actually make any difference. Once connected, proximity doesn’t affect the quantity of time taken to charge the Smartphone. Of course, if the phone were to be pulled away too far, then it would lose its connection. A case that is thick but working with the charger won’t mean the phone gets a lesser charge; it just may cause connection issues for both devices. However, this shouldn’t be a problem with the average case.

It’s comparable to when you plug your phone in to charge from a traditional socket. The only way it stops is if the connection is severed for any reason. While it is connected, it is charging the same as it ever would, presuming all cables, devices, and sockets are in working order, of course.

6. Are Some Smartphone Cases Better For Wireless Charging Than Others?

Yes, one that is too thick isn’t recommended. The thickness is likely to affect the quality of the charge. It either works, or it doesn’t with the case in our experience. If the phone works on a charging pad or station, then it will next depend on the strength of the wireless charger and the thickness of the case. This means the Smartphone can take advantage of the technology without a case. It won’t charge faster or retain its charge for a more extended period of time, as we said before it either works or it doesn’t.

There is, of course, evidence that some materials are better conductors than others. Where it’s possible (from a scientific point of view) that a metal case is more likely to conduct electricity than a rubber one, neither is likely to affect the actual quality of the charge, just the likelihood that it’s compatible based on the thickness of the case.

There’s actually more evidence to assume a phone in a metal case is less likely to benefit from wireless charging technology. Smartphone manufacturers are now making phones that don’t have metal sheeting on their backs to allow the battery within easier access to wireless charging technology. This is excellent news for those who already have a case they like. Based on this, we would advise avoiding metal cases.

7. Is There A Particular Type Of Wireless Charger That Is Best Suited For Phones In Thick Cases?

At the time of writing, there is no individual charger that is more equipped or adept at charging smartphones in cases than any other. The technology is improving all the time, meaning so is the strength of the signal that the chargers emit, meaning as time moves on, less and less proximity between the phone and charger will be needed.

Wireless charging pads may be of more use to cell phones in thick cases than the ones that come as stands. The stands tend to work the same way, but they may rely on the Smartphone remaining upright or in some other position. A phone that’s in a bulky case may not fit into this slot, meaning the user will need to remove it from its case every time prior to use.

Samsung Galaxy is placed on a wireless fast charger.

This won’t need to happen on many models but could become tiresome on the ones that do. Think back to iPod/iPhone docks; most of these only worked when our cell phones were removed from their cases. This doesn’t sound like much of an issue, but needing to do it time after time can become annoying.

Pads don’t tend to have this issue. They are often circular and lie flat, horizontally across a surface, with the cell phone lying on top of them. As there is rarely anything other than a couple of centimeters between that and the phone itself, it shouldn’t have much trouble charging in its case, providing its no bulkier than this, of course.

From Apple’s Website: How to wirelessly charge your iPhone 8 or later.

“Wireless charging uses magnetic induction to charge your iPhone. Don’t place anything between your iPhone and the charger. Magnetic mounts, magnetic cases, or other objects between your iPhone and the charger might reduce performance or damage magnetic strips or RFID chips like those found in some credit cards, security badges, passports, and key fobs. If your case holds any of these sensitive items, remove them before charging or make sure that they aren’t between the back of your iPhone and the charger.”

If your iPhone isn’t charging or is charging slowly and your iPhone has a thick case, metal case, or battery case, try removing the case.

If your iPhone vibrates—when it gets a notification, for example—your iPhone might shift position. This can cause the charging mat to stop providing power to your iPhone. If this happens often, consider turning off vibration, turning on Do Not Disturb, or using a case to prevent movement.

Depending on the charging mat you have, you might hear faint noises while your iPhone charges.

Your iPhone might get slightly warmer while it charges. To extend the lifespan of your battery, if the battery gets too warm, the software might limit charging above 80 percent. Your iPhone will charge again when the temperature drops. Try moving your iPhone and charger to a cooler location.

Your iPhone won’t charge wirelessly when connected to USB. If your iPhone is connected to your computer with USB, or if it’s connected to a USB power adapter, your iPhone will charge using the USB connection.

Apple Support: How to wirelessly charge your iPhone

7 Questions

References:

https://www.belkin.com/us/resource-center/wireless-charging/why-wireless/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_examples_of_lengths

https://www.wikihow.com/Read-a-Measuring-Tape

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208078

https://www.samsung.com/us/support/answer/ANS00047798/

https://www.businessinsider.com/wireless-chargers-problems-issues-whats-wrong-2019-1

John Mortensen

I was a project manager and am a technology and science enthusiast who loves to study the latest technology, such as AI, smartphones, headphones, and software.

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