The Apple Watch is the red-headed stepchild of my gadgets simply because of the way it charges. My iPhone X and AirPods both charge with a Lightning cable. My travel camera (Sony RX100 III) and wireless over-ear headphones (V-Moda Crossfade Wireless) both charge with a micro USB cable. And my Nintendo Switch and MacBook Pro can both charge via USB Type-C. My Apple Watch? It can’t charge with any of those, so if I forget its little charging puck when I’m traveling — I’m out of luck.
The Apple Watch is also an outlier because most Qi-wireless charges won’t charge it. The Apple Watch depends on a specific radio signal to tell the Qi-wireless charger when it’s on the mat, which only the Apple Watch charger — and the AirPower, when it comes out — can detect.
Don’t get me wrong: the Apple Watch Series 3 is a fantastic smartwatch and I really like it — I’m just not a huge fan, of its charger. It’s awkward and it’s not able to charge any other devices, iPhone and AirPods included. If you’re like me and want a better solution for your Apple Watch, you have options.
Best Budget Stand: Spigen S350 Apple Watch Stand
The good: It’s compatible with Nightstand mode, meaning the Apple Watch displays the date and time while still charging at night — it effectively turns the Apple Watch into an alarm clock. The stand looks good on a nightstand and is available in several colors. It’s very inexpensive.
Watch out for: The charging dock that comes with your Apple Watch is required for this stand to work. That’s right, this is a stand and not a charger.
Who it’s for: Somebody who wants a simple solution to make their Apple Watch easier to charge, while also enabling it to look more natural on their nightstand.
Editor’s Pick: Nomad Pod Pro for iPhone and Apple Watch
The good: It’s able to charge both your iPhone and Apple Watch. It’s a 6000mAh portable power bank so you can travel, charge your devices without needing to be near a wall outlet and also not have to bring extra cables. Looks neat.
Watch out for: The Nomad Pod Pro depends on the watch’s own charger. Its integrated Lightning cable enables it to charge your iPhone — it doesn’t support Qi-wireless charging for your smartphone. It also doesn’t support Nightstand mode.
Who it’s for: People who have an iPhone and Apple Watch and want a central place on their nightstand to charge both. It’s also a good travel companion.
The Portable Charge: Zens Wireless Apple Watch Charger
The good: It’s a fantastic portable battery for your Apple Watch. It has a 1300 mAh battery and can charge your Apple Watch twice over, therefore extending your Apple Watch’s life for well over a week. It’s avaialble in two colors: white and gray.
Watch out for: It’s still kind of awkward getting your Apple Watch to charge on it.
Who it’s for: It’s great for travelers who need something that takes up little space in their bag.
The Nightstand Statement: Belkin Powerhouse
The good: Looks like a statement piece on your nightstand. It has a built-in charger for Apple Watch, so you use the Apple Watch’s original charger elsewhere. Its elevated design makes placing and removing your Apple Watch easy. It can also charge your iPhone. And it’s available in two colors: black and white.
Watch out for: It can’t wirelessly charge your iPhone. Instead, it relies on a Lighting connector, so it feels kind of dated in that way. It’s expensive.
Who it’s for: Anybody with an iPhone and Apple Watch and doesn’t mind spending big to get a glorious nightstand.
The Apple Option: Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock
The good: The Apple Watch can charge while it lays flat on the charger or while it’s laying on its side; the Apple Watch works in Nighttime mode if it’s charging on its side, effectively turning it into an alarm clock. The charger looks really cool and connects via a Lightning cable, so you can unplug it and charge your AirPods or iPhone.
Watch out for: It’s not a Qi-wireless charger and can’t charge your iPhone, despite it looking like it should. It’s also expensive.
Who it’s for: The Apple enthusiast.