Once upon a time, the tech world clamoured for a connected environment. Of course, that meant connecting with wires but today, the same wires are increasingly perceived as a nuisance. As one of the most important functions of the smartphone, charging has traditionally been done by plugging into a power source via cable but it turns out that people are tired of that method. Earlier iterations of the wireless charging systems were quite clumsy and typically worked with one or two of the major standards.
It actually took some time to catch on with brands like Apple lagging behind until recently. The technology giant’s spokesman, Phil Schiller once argued that “having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated”. This position has changed with Apple wholeheartedly adopting the technology in its latest phones. Android phones were faster in adopting this technology but its spread was somewhat limited but today, there is an acceleration and this is expected to increase this year with the emerging high-end phones.
Many people may wonder what the technology is about. Here is a peek into the world of wireless charging.
What wireless charging really means
Alternatively known as inductive charging, this system of charging allows you to charge your mobile device conveniently and wirelessly. In order to function, there are two requirements;
A charger: This is typically in the designed like a mat or stand which has a direct connection to a power source
A device (mobile e.g. smartphone) that is wireless charging-compatible.
Apparently, wireless charging gives the smartphone freedom from cables but not from a direct connection to a power source. Secondly, the device must be compatible with wireless charging as the technology has been adopted but yet to gain widespread usage.
Wireless Charging Standards
While Qi (by Wireless Power Consortium) is fast becoming the most popular standard for wireless charging, it must be noted that other systems exist and these include PMA and Airfuel Alliance standards.
Qi’s edge over its competitors would be its adoption by iconic brands such as Apple.
The Pros of Wireless Charging
Convenience: All you need to do with a wireless charger is to place your phone without having to worry about cables and stretching to plug in. Additionally, you do not have to worry about the wires getting worn out or breaking internally.
Continuous Charging: Unlike using a wired charger, whenever you place your phone on the wireless charger, it adds to its battery power. No need to plug in; simply set it down casually and be assured that battery power is being increased instantly.
Speed: As the technology improved, wireless charging also improved in charging speed. If you have a five-watt charger, you can be assured of charging just as fast as a 5-watt/1 Amp wall charger.
Phones that are manufactured with wireless charging capability
– Apple iPhone: 8, 8 Plus, X
– Samsung Galaxy: S9, S9+, Note 8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, Note 5, S6, S6 Edge
– LG: V30, G6 (US version only), G4 (optional), G3 (optional)
– Microsoft Lumia: 1520, 1020, 930, 929, 928, 920
– Google Nexus: 4, 5, 6, 7 (2013)
However, if your phone was not manufactured with wireless charging capabilities, there is a walk-around for it. You will need to use an adapter to connect the wireless charger. If you are using an Android phone, you need to use the micro USB port. If it is an iPhone, it will use its lightening port. The phones listed below can work with adapter to link a wireless charger.
– Apple: iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone SE, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 5S
– Samsung: Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Note 2
– Microsoft: Lumia 930, Lumia 925, Lumia 830
– Sony: Xperia Z3, Xperia Z2, Xperia Z
Even after the technology became commercially available, it still needed to increase in convenience of use. Here are a few areas where further strides have been taken so far.
Faster Charging: One argument against wireless charging has been its speed of charging but Powermat is currently working on making its chargers at least 2.5 times faster than those currently available. While 15-watt wireless chargers are looking feasible today, very soon, 40-watt chargers may also hit the market. According to a Powermat spokesman, Aya Kantor, “When we talk about the next generation….We’re talking about 30 watts [of power]” While this falls short of the desired 40-watt wireless charger that the market desires, it will still be able to take a phone from zero to hundred percent charge in just twenty-five minutes. This is not bad. The spokesman further states that “We do expect that in two or three years down the line we’re going to see devices charging at those [40-watt] speeds,” Surely, there is a lot to anticipate.
Distance Charging: Right now, a phone would typically have to be placed on the wireless charger to get charged but passive over-the-air charging is an area that some companies have explored. This just requires a device to be paired with the charger and sitting within range. The innovations in this field are truly amazing, including the use of radio frequencies to reach devices as far as three feet away from the charging device. If this beats your imagination, then try another device that claims to deliver power over radio waves within a thirty-feet radius. The innovation that takes the trophy here however is one that already has approval from the U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and capable of delivering charging power to devices within eighty feet. Although it is not a phone-specific device, it indicates that the technology can be used for phones pretty soon.
These are surely exciting times for smartphone users as innovations are becoming increasingly daring. It is no longer what has been achieved with innovation but what is even remotely possible. Necessity has typically spurred innovation, especially with mobile technology but now, we are seeing smartphone companies leveraging innovation from other fields to make life easier for users. It is certainly a win-win for lovers of smartphone technology.