Rumors are circulating that Apple won’t be including a charger or earbuds in this year’s iPhones. As annoying as this is—since I doubt Apple will be dropping the price of the phone to match—the fact of the matter is that the bundled chargers weren’t that great anyway. If you have to buy another charger, skip Apple’s official offering. There are better options out there.
Most of the chargers we list below don’t come with USB cables, so you’ll need to either use the ones you have, or grab new ones. The regular Lightning-to-USB cables won’t get you the fastest charging possible, though, so you’ll want to pick up a Lightning-to-USB-C cable if you don’t have one already. Anker’s Powerline II cables are affordable and high quality, and their Powerline+ II cables are braided for extra durability. Aukey also makes some braided right-angle cables, if you want something a bit more low profile.
As for chargers, if you just want something cheap and tiny—like the 5W chargers Apple used to bundle with the iPhone—both Anker and Aukey offer 18W chargers that fit the bill. Anker’s is a bit smaller, but Aukey’s is cheaper and has a foldable plug. 18 watts is enough to charge your phone as fast as possible, from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes according to Apple. And they’re both significantly cheaper than Apple’s official offering, while still being from trusted, high-quality manufacturers.
If you have a few more bucks, though, I’d spring for something higher-wattage and more versatile. Aukey’s new Omnia line of chargers is, to me, the cream of the crop right now—I saw these at CES and couldn’t wait to get my hands on them (which, given the fact that chargers are the most boring product category ever, should tell you something). The two smallest models are tiny for what you get: both offer 65W of charging, with one offering a USB-C port alongside USB-A, and the other offering two USB-C ports—both with foldable prongs. With that much power, you can charge many USB-C laptops.
Even if you’re using both ports, the charger will ensure 45 watts get sent to the USB-C port for your notebook. For something only slightly larger than an AirPods case, that’s damn impressive. (If you have a higher-end laptop and don’t need two ports, their Omnia 100W is great, too, and way smaller than Apple’s bundled MacBook charger.)
There are, of course, other form factors out there too. RavPower’s 45W wall charger eschews the “block” shape for something slimmer, which is useful if you don’t have a lot of clearance next to your wall outlet. The myCharge Portable Charger with built-in cables is a battery pack with built-in cables and prongs, so you get the best of both worlds.
All of these are great for travel, but for charging spots in your house, I usually eschew the charging block altogether and go with something more permanent. I have this RavPower charging station velcroed to the side of my nightstand, for example, which charges my phone, tablet, and Kindle overnight, and a Topgreener outlet in my kitchen. This Tripp Lite surge protector clamps onto a table or desk and includes two USB ports built-in, and this outlet extender does the same in a bit less space. (Neither allows for fast charging, though I find I rarely need that at home anyway since it’s easy to stay topped off.)
Finally, there’s one other reason Apple might be skipping the charger this time around. If rumors about next year’s port-less iPhone are true, Apple is trying to get you hooked on wireless charging, and while I may not agree with their methods, I do have to sing the praises of this convenient tech one more time. Anker’s wireless charging pad is only $12 with a cable, which makes it a no-brainer: just plop your phone down and let it charge, with no need to fiddle with cables. If you need space for more than one device, try the ZENS Charger Station, or one of these other AirPower alternatives. Personally, I’m a fan of wireless chargers hidden within other household items, like Twelve South’s charger-in-a-picture-frame, or this bedroom lamp that doubles as a wireless charger. With the right gear on hand, you’ll never miss the mediocre charger that came in the box. (And you can do better on the earbuds, too.)