Wireless Phone Chargers

Category: Mobile

You've got a wireless phone, but more often than not, it's tethered to the wall charger with a wire! The advent of wireless phone chargers promises to eliminate that hassle. Read on to learn more...

How About a Wireless Phone With No Wires?

Wireless power charging for mobile devices is a very desirable thing. It means one less mess of cable and transformer to carry, lose, and pay Best Buy $22 plus tax to replace in a hurry (or $2.10 delivered via eBay, if you can wait for China Post). Instead, just find a “charging hotspot” and set your phone or tablet down on top of it; then pick up your device when it’s charged, and go. You don’t have to unplug a cord, wind it up, and stuff it in a pocket or briefcase. There’s nothing loose to lose.

The science behind this magic is called “resonant inductive coupling.” An electric current induces a magnetic field in a coil of wire. The magnetic field induces an electric current in a nearby coil of wire. You may have encountered this phenomenon in high school physics class; it’s that old and simple. So why isn’t wireless charging standard equipment by now?

Wireless Phone Charging

Because there are competing standards, of course. Ubiquitous wireless Internet access was delayed for several years while two standards battled it out for supremacy among equipment manufacturers. The WiFi standard won. (Does anyone remember HomeRF, the loser?) In the wireless charging arena, three standards were duking it out until February, 2014. Now there are only two, and we all know “there can be only one.”

Qi (pronounced “Chee”) is the oldest standard. It’s developed and promoted by the Wireless Power Consortium which currently has 199 corporate members, including Microsoft, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Verizon, and other well-known brands. Over 560 products are Qi-certified, including Google’s Wireless Charging Orb for the Nexus 4, released in late 2012. But Qi is not the clear-cut winner of this standards battle by a long shot.

WiFi won the wireless Internet standard war when Starbucks picked it for all of its coffee stores. Now, Starbucks is testing the PMA standard represented by the Power Matters Alliance. Over 100,000 Starbucks stores will soon be offering public “power hotspots” where customers can charge their phones while chugging caffeine. By the end of 2015, every Starbucks will offer PMA-based charging and Qi may once again belong in the realm of Chinese medicine.

The Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) merged with the PMA group in February, 2014. The best parts of both standards will be rolled into one standard; hopefully, it will not be awkwardly labeled “PMA-A4WP.”

Getting The Gear...

There are more than 60 phone models that support Qi wireless charging. Accessories that add wireless charging to many other phones are available. Starting with selected 2015 models, Cadillac plans to provide both wireless charging standards as standard equipment in its cars.

I've found that the car charging cables (and the cigarette lighter adapters for them) are horribly unreliable. After a short time, they either stop working, or require constant jiggling to maintain the flow of juice from car to phone. I've tried quite a few brands, at different price points, and the results have never been satisfactory.

So I welcome the day when wireless charging is a standard feature in homes, cars and coffee shops. Hopefully, it won’t be long until those pesky cables and transformers disappear forever.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Wireless Phone Chargers"

Posted by:

01 Aug 2014

I am stuck in a plan for next two yrars. So the question is; does my Galaxy S2 quilify for that charging system.

Posted by:

01 Aug 2014

Hi Bob, I am a big fan! A question regarding this technology: what are the security implications - will it be easier for someone to hack my phone if/when I use this device? Thanks!

EDITOR'S NOTE: I don't see any security implications here.

Posted by:

01 Aug 2014

This is an interesting concept - I notice mention of a wide array of electronics but don't see Apple up there. Is there a device that works for iPhones, etc?



Posted by:

Bruce Thompson
01 Aug 2014

RE: Wireless Phone Chargers
Category: Mobile
Here is an interesting news piece regarding use of non-approved aftermarket chargers http://www.wfsb.com/story/26164448/aftermarket-phone-battery-burns

Posted by:

Janet Arnold
01 Aug 2014

Hmmm...does this mean I may have to surrender my title as Wire Wonder Woman. I live in a bowl of black spaghetti. Bring it!!

Posted by:

Larry Brandon
01 Aug 2014

I would really like to see a wireless phone charging system. We have seven wireless phones we use and everyone is always looking for a charger. The transformer refuses to work, the wires get broken, the plug for the phone loses contact. A wireless system would probably solve all these problems.

Posted by:

David Bent
01 Aug 2014

Please remember that magnetic Fields will erase magnetic media like cassette (magnetic) tape, magnetic strips on the back of credit cards etc.
So anything - Anything that holds magnetic media can and will be affected. Wireless is a good thing if wise consideration of your surroundings are considered.

Posted by:

01 Aug 2014

Bob - A take off from Shawns comment about security. I agree that wireless security as we usually think about it is not a problem - but - my understanding of this technology is you place the device near a charger station and leave it for awhile. So you do this while ordering your coffee and then return to grab your phone and find it .... gone. Seems like the old meaning of security will become important. You wouldn't lay your wallet down and walk away.

Posted by:

Paul Jackson
01 Aug 2014

Wireless charging is certainly convenient but it is less efficient than a regular usb charger. I find it generates a lot more heat and takes considerably longer to charge. http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/charging_without_wires

Posted by:

01 Aug 2014

I own a wireless charging module for my Droid Mini. I don't really prefer it over wired charging for a couple reasons: 1. Charging is much, much slower. 2. The phone gets very hot. 3. Occasionally it just quits charging and I have to pick up the phone and realign it on the pad. 4. The pad takes up room and doesn't weigh much, so it often slides off the desk because of the dangling cord.

Posted by:

Harry Wilkinson
02 Aug 2014

Hi Bob, I am in my late 70's. I have never been particularly technically knowledgeable about computers. So I have been appreciating your sharing of such a wide range of computer related information, warnings,etc. for at least a couple of decades. As in this phone chargers article,I often wonder, does this particular information apply to my specific Australian situation? Do you have the contacts in Australia to obtain this info?

Posted by:

02 Aug 2014

This sounds very interesting. Maybe we may see the day when the “Nikola Tesla" experiments will eliminate all power lines. But then, again, the huge power suppliers would never stand still for that.

Posted by:

Art Frailey
02 Aug 2014

HMM ! Seems to me you still have to plug this thing into a wall to get current. If it is battery powered, you will still have to power it up some time, From the same old fashioned plugs in the wall. So, what is the advantage? Are we getting to lazy to plug into the same device we have always used, that is vary reliable and inexpensive? Looks to me like another device to sell, but of no real use of any advantage.

Posted by:

02 Aug 2014

Format Wars are upon us once again: This time it is between Power Matters Alliance (PMA) versus Qi. Earlier this year, the PMA and A4WP announced a deal to adopt each others' technologies; enabling both to have resonant charging at distance, among other capabilities. AT&T's LG G3 phone is behind PMA and last I heard all of McDonald's in Europe are going to be [errrr...] wired for PMA wireless charging. As of July 2014, Starbucks appears to be putting their name behind PMA, as well. Such brand name endorsements of PMA may end up leaving consumers with Qi hardware high and dry.

It appears that the 2 standards may be using similar technology but different specifications that are not compatible: Qi (WPC standard) uses "inductive" charging. Whereas, the LG G3 (WPA format) is based on the "resonant" charging technology that seems to have been already adopted (standardized) in EU.

The magnetic resonant extension is [supposed to be] backward compatible for mobile devices already enabled for the more tightly coupled inductive charging now being used by Qi-style charging pads.

Both inductive and resonant coupling use two separate copper coils to create a magnetic field to transmit electrical energy. When a receiving device (e.g. embedded in a smartphone) is tuned to the same frequency range as the transmitting device, a magnetic coupling is created and electricity can pass between the two. This coupling mechanism may not cause worry for wiping credit cards clean as long as the CC is not sandwiched between the source and the load.

Next in line for wireless charging are cars, medical devices, and industrial machines. Toyota has already committed to it for their 2016 Prius. The market is said to be getting ready to explode to a global $8.5Billion by 2018. Could it be too late to invest in WiTricity????

Posted by:

24 Nov 2015

When I first came across wireless charging thought, brilliant! Gotta get one, then the credit card problem was thrown up and now, never am I going to remove cc from the thoughtfully incorporation cc holders or remember not t sandwich my cards between the phone and power source! I now love my micro usb. It's so simple.

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