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The iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X all sport inductive wireless charging based on the Qi standard. But while this is a great and convenient addition to the iPhone, it does bring up some questions. One of those questions may be whether or not the wireless charging feature works with a first- or third-party aftermarket case.
The longer answer is a bit more complicated. Inductive wireless charging methods, like Qi, work by sending transferring power through electromagnetic fields. Metal being metal, it can interfere with that energy transfer. (Yes, the forces at play are more complicated than that, but this isn’t physics class). The negative effects can range from wireless charging simply not working to a device overheating and possibly sustaining permanent damage, according to some anecdotal reports.
That’s why the new iPhone lineup has switched to a glass-sandwich construction, and why Samsung has opted for glass backs on its flagship devices, too. It’s also why the back of the Apple Watch is clear polymer or Zirconia ceramic. Metal and inductive wireless charging just aren’t compatible. That may change in the future, but it isn’t the case now. Interestingly, this has led many Android manufacturers to ditch wireless charging as a supported feature, since the tech won’t work with more “premium” case materials like aluminum or titanium, as seen in the Essential phone.
That leaves non-metal cases, like many popular Lifeproof and Otterbox models. As long as metal isn’t present, those cases should work fine — with a caveat. Qi has been able to work without direct contact with a device since 2014, but particularly bulky cases could prevent a device and a wireless charger from making contact at all. That also depends on the wireless charger you use — more expensive models are strong enough to penetrate all but the burliest of cases. Cheaper and lower-quality chargers might not.
Of course, this is all in theory since the new iPhones haven’t even launched yet. In practice, the results could be better or worse. But, in short, yes: wireless charging should work with most non-metal cases. If you want to use wireless charging, leave the metal ones off of your new iPhone.
Apple’s Advice on (Slow) Wireless Charging Issues
“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.”