Official accessory brings Qi wireless charging to the Galaxy S4, at the cost of a little extra girth
Wireless charging is one of those features that seems like an unimportant luxury until you've used it for yourself. The ability to place your phone down on a magical pad and have it charge through the ether can change the way you use your device. Suddenly, you're free from wires and don't having to worry about constant plugging and unplugging. It's an added convenience if you're sat working at a desk all day, or even if you want to charge your phone on a nightstand without getting tangled in wires.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 doesn't include wireless charging capabilities out of the box, but the official S Charger kit brings Qi-standard inductive charging to the device, in the form of a replacement back cover and charging plate. In exchange for a little extra thickness on the phone, this lets you take advantage of wireless charging on your S4. And it's available now from ShopAndroid.com priced $89.95, 10 percent off the list price.
So let's take a closer look -- we've got video, photos and more words after the break!
The Samsung Galaxy S4 S-Charger kit comes in two parts. The first, a replacement back cover for the phone, houses all the components necessary to let the phone use inductive charging. Gold contacts connect to the interior of the S4, and the cover sturdily snaps into place with a few reassuring clicks. The first thing you'll probably notice about the wireless charging cover is the extra heft it brings to the Galaxy S4. It adds a few extra millimeters to the back of the device, and a small amount of additional weight, too. Looking at the LED flash -- now recessed away from the surface of the back cover -- gives you an idea of how much extra thickness it adds.
It's not a trivial amount of extra thickness, and the differences are more than cosmetic. The S4 becomes more rounded with the new back cover, which might change the way you hold it. (In our opinion, this actually makes it a little easier to hold.) Finally, in case you were wondering, NFC still works even with the thicker back cover in place, although any form-fitting cases you might have bought likely won't fit with the wireless charging back in plate.
Galaxy S4 regular back cover versus wireless charging cover - Click animation to enlarge
The second part of the kit is the official Samsung charging plate, which as the name suggests is a small, curved slab onto whick the phone sits. Its edges are curved upwards and the top is matte textured to stop things slipping off, the sides are shiny plastic, and the base is rubberized to hold it in place. Once it's plugged in, it's just a case of placing the phone on the pad and it'll start charging automatically -- you'll get a little popup message telling you that the phone's charging wirelessly, and an LED on the plate will light up.
The Galaxy S4 charges wirelessly at 650mA, which is pretty reasonable. To put that in perspective, charging over USB 2.0 from a computer will give you 500mA, and most AC chargers will charge at 1A. The Galaxy S4's wall charger actually charges at a full two amps -- so that's still going to be your best bet for a fast charge. That said, the main benefit of wireless charging is convenience, not speed.
As it's based on the Qi wireless charging standard, which means the charging back should work with existing Qi charging pads, and the pad should work with Qi-compliant phones (we successfully tested ours with a Nexus 4.)
The bottom line is that you're trading extra thickness for the convenience of wireless charging, and whether that's worth it to you is going to depend on how you use the phone, and how important the thin, sleek design is. We're going to keep using the S-Charger kit as our main way of juicing up the Galaxy S4, and we'll update this article with any long-term impressions.
The official Samsung Galaxy S4 wireless charging kit is now available to buy from ShopAndroid.com for $89.95, 10% off the list price!
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Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.