PC Mag Reviews Humanscale's NeatCharge
Wireless charging that sparks joy
By Steven WinkelmanQi-enabled wireless charging pads are convenient, but their esthetics need work. No matter where you put it, a chunky pad at the end of a tangle-prone cable looks like clutter. Humanscale’s NeatCharge ($149.99) is something altogether different. Except for the small sticker that indicates its charging area, the NeatCharge is completely invisible, satisfying both minimalists and fans of technology that feels like magic. That makes it our Editors' Choice for Qi chargers.
Yes, Even You Can Install This Charger
The NeatCharge consists of a wireless charging pad that can be installed underneath most surfaces and an indicator sticker that’s affixed to the top of the surface. The charging pad measures 5.1 inches in diameter, is about 0.6 inch thick, and weighs 8 ounces. The placement sticker is about 2 inches in diameter. There’s also a 72-inch power cable with an attached adapter.
In addition to the charging pad and sticker, in the box you’ll find three powerful magnets, five screws, two cable managers, a template, an extra sticker, and an adhesive pad. The charger will not function unless it is installed under a surface that’s 0.6 to 1.1 inches thick. It can't be used with metal surfaces, but we found it transmitted impressively well through every other material we tested.
Installation takes about 10 minutes. You'll need a drill with a #2 Phillips-head bit if you wish to permanently attach the charger to the surface. To install the NeatCharge, first make sure there’s enough space under the surface for the charging pad. Affix the charging location sticker on the top of the surface and place two of the magnets in its center. Run the third magnet underneath the surface until it attaches to the pair on top. (If you've ever used a stud finder to figure out where to drill into a wall, the process is very similar.)
Place the template against the bottom magnet, and draw an outline with a pencil. Remove the magnets and template, and use either the adhesive mount or two screws to attach the NeatCharge. Make sure the indicator lights are facing forward and the charging socket is facing back. Finally, plug the charging cable into the power outlet and then into the pad.
The key to installation is making sure the sticker and the center of the charger pad are aligned. If not, you’ll need to move one or the other. Luckily, there’s an extra sticker in the box. We removed one of the stickers from a laminate desktop without causing any damage, but any sticker has the potential to harm the surface you're working with, so take your time getting the setup right the first time.
It Just Works
The best thing about the NeatCharge is that it’s inconspicuous. There’s no ugly charging pad lying on your counter or nightstand, and the sticker is easy to hide with a stack of books or a coaster when it's not in use. Put your phone down the way you would on any table, and pick it up an hour or two later to find the battery charged and ready to go.
If you install the charging pad right at the edge of a desk, you’ll notice a small LED. The light flashes green when it’s charging something—unnecessary, since your device will show its own charging indicator—and red if it detects a foreign object. If you find the charger has stopped working, simply disconnect if from the power and plug it back in to restart it.
The Humanscale NeatCharge can be installed under just about any surface except metal.
Slow charging speed is often the trade-off for the convenience of wireless charging. The NeatCharge maxes out at 10W. For iPhone owners, that's more than enough, since iPhones only support 7.5W Qi-charging. If you’re an Android owner, there may be faster charging options available. For a stationary charger, we feel 10W is plenty of power, since you’re likely to use it at bedtime or throughout the day while working.
After the NeatCharge was installed under a 0.75-inch surface, we found it worked perfectly with an Apple AirPods Pro case, an iPhone 12 Pro Max in a chunky Otterbox Commuter case, and a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra in a slim silicone shell. Any Qi-enabled device should be able to make use of it.
We tested the NeatCharge through concrete, glass, marble, and wood without any problems. It should function with just about every surface except metal, as long as the distance between the charger and the phone is no further than 1.1 inches. For most people this is unlikely to be a problem, but if you installed the charger on a surface that’s an inch thick and you also have a thick, sturdy phone case, you may need to remove the case before charging.
Wireless Charging Without Clutter
While the $150 Humanscale NeatCharge is neither the cheapest nor the fastest wireless charging pad, it’s among the best we’ve tested. It's well built, it quickly recognizes devices and is broadly compatible, and it's the only pad that eliminates clutter. That makes it the winner of our Editors’ Choice award.
If you’re looking for something portable, check out some of our other favorite wireless chargers. And if you’re an iPhone 12 owner who wants the fastest charging speeds, we’ve assembled a list of our favorite MagSafe chargers.
The Bottom Line
The Humanscale NeatCharge is sturdy and easy to install, and it will charge any Qi-compatible device. Best of all, it's hidden out of sight.
Transmits power through most non-metal surfaces
Excellent build quality
10W maximum charging output
Humanscale is the leading designer and manufacturer of high-performance ergonomic products that improve the health and comfort of work life. Through leveraging new technology in functional yet minimal designs, Humanscale transforms traditional offices into active, intelligent workspaces. Committed to making a net positive impact on the earth as well as our customers, Humanscale offers award-winning products designed with a focus on function, simplicity and longevity.