Review: Ikea Nordmärke Qi Charger

by on November 16, 2017

With the introduction of the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, Apple has added a feature that owners of many Android devices have enjoyed for awhile—wireless charging, or more correctly, inductive charging. While the connection between the phone and charger is wireless, there’s still the need to plug the whole thing into the wall, and the phone needs to be in close contact with the surface. As Apple opted to use the Qi standard, iPhones can take advantage of the variety of products already on the market. Ikea recently lowered prices and heavily marketed their existing Qi-based products towards iPhone users.

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Available in white or birch, the $20 single pad Nordmärke is a bit larger than some of the other Qi chargers on the market. An iPhone 8 will just barely reach over the edges. A wooden outer portion surrounds a white plastic disc that contains the charging coil. On top of the plastic disc is a rubber + for grip and creates a subtle nod to the charging purpose of the product. On the underside, there’s a bit more plastic, flanked with rubber feet, keeping the charger in place on a table or desk. A permanently-attached cable snakes out of the back and runs to a beefy 33W AC adapter.

Unlike some other Qi chargers, there isn’t a micro USB port to feed the AC adapter, because this product features an additional bonus feature: a female USB-A port along the edge that provides 10W for a secondary device. This is enough to charge an iPad or an iPhone 6 or later faster than Apple’s included adapter. Those who have multiple devices will appreciate this, as it gives some flexibility, and if you decide to take this charger when traveling, can make a bit more use out of a hotel room outlet (I used it with my iPhone on the Qi pad and an Apple Watch through a cable while traveling a few weeks ago). Ikea also sells a similar $60 triple pad, featuring a larger AC adapter and three spots to charge Qi devices, and a sole USB port.

As this product has been on the market for awhile (originally priced at $35), it only charges at 5W via Qi, as opposed to the “fast charging” products that have been showing up here and there. Unfortunately, anything faster than the 5W products still feels like a bit of Wild West, as there’s not a lot of consistency, exacerbated by Apple promising faster charging on supported chargers with a forthcoming software update.

In my experience, performance seemed acceptable, but a bit slow when compared to charging through the Lightning port. As I’ll leave the scientific testing to the pros, it seems to be just a tad slower than the included 5W charger, especially from the 0-80% range, but if you’re using it to charge your phone overnight, it should be fine. It seems that many of the negative reviews on their site seem to be centered around people buying the product for a phone that does not support Qi charging or using an extremely bulky case. In my tests, my iPhone 8 Plus played nicely with both of Apple’s official cases, and some others even while doubling the case “thickness” with a stack of paper.

Unlike many products on the market, the Nordmärke features a small white LED that illuminates when charging and is mostly obscured by the phone. This is a stark contrast from many products that insist on a bright blue LED front and center. There’s also no branding or other text on the surface, allowing it to sit on a table and not draw attention to itself. For some, there are places where the slower charging speed and understated design may be a worthwhile tradeoff. If even that is too obtrusive, Ikea also offers versions that are built into lamps and installable inside tables. I didn’t get a chance to test these, but I suspect they use similar technology behind the scenes.

Last, but not least, the price is one of the biggest selling points. For about the price of most of the off-brand models, you can get something that is sold by a relatively large retailer. However, if you’re in an area where Ikea hasn’t set up shop, you might be out of luck until this is added for online orders. Ikea has been weird about some products being available while others haven’t, and this should change with a new agreement with Amazon. If you are able to get one, for the price, you could pick up a couple for the ability to charge this year’s iPhones in a few different places. Additionally, if you’re holding out for Apple’s first-party product, this is an excellent inexpensive stopgap.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

While there are Qi chargers that offer better performance, Ikea’s Nordmäarke is cheap, relatively inoffensive looking, and adds some flexibility with the spare USB port.

Pros: Inexpensive, looks less “techy” than some competing products, extra USB port
Cons: Large footprint, 5W charging only, proprietary AC adapter

The Facts

4/5Product: Nordmärke
Company: Ikea
Platform: Any device that supports Qi charging (iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X)
Price: $19.99

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