Wireless Phone Charging

Category: Mobile

The biggest problem with rechargeable batteries is... recharging. For every “cordless” device you carry, you also have to carry a cord and a transformer to recharge the device when its battery runs down. But soon, you may be able to throw away that tangle of cables in your briefcase, purse or backpack. Wireless charging is the next big thing in mobility...

Wireless charging is not new. Cordless electric toothbrushes have used it for decades. But toothbrushes can sit in their cradles all day, slowly charging up for their short-lived moments of glory. Only recently has wireless charging technology gotten efficient enough to be viable in mobile devices, which demand power all day long.

In practice, you can simply set your smartphone down in a cradle, a charging mat, or on a specific spot marked on a flat surface, and it will charge until you pick it up. With charging made so easy, you can do it more often and keep your battery always topped up. Also, there are no micro-USB connectors to damage by attempting to plug them in the wrong way, and no charger to lose.

Wireless Charging

Yes, there is a standards war, as there was between VHS and Betamax. The Qi standard, backed by 200 industry members of the Wireless Power Consortium, is the oldest and most widely implemented wireless charging standard. But there's also Powermat, a competing standard promoted by the Power Matters Alliance. And of course, they're not compatible with each other.

Then there’s the dark horse standard, Rezence, promoted by the Alliance for Wireless Power. Unlike the induction-based Qi and Powermat standards, Rezence uses electromagnetic resonance to enable transfer of electrical energy over greater distances (up to several feet). So you might not have to take your phone out of your pocket to charge it.

Which Phones Support Wireless Charging?

A Brief Science Lesson: Wireless charging is an application of electromagnetic induction. You may recall from high school physics that an electric current passing through a wire generates a magnetic field around a wire, and a wire moving through the lines of force in a magnetic field will get an electric current generated in it.

Instead of moving the wire, the lines of magnetic force can be moved through a stationary wire by rapidly reversing the polarity of the magnetic field; this is easily done by passing an alternating current through the wire. So electrical voltage (the stuff of battery charges) can be transferred from one wire to another without having the wires physically touch each other. That’s wireless charging.

Here are a few dozen models that support Qi wireless charging without peripheral adapters that must be plugged into the phone (which really defeats the purpose):

  • HTC: 8X, Droid DNA, Thunderbolt, Incredible 2, Rezound
  • LG: G3, Optimus
  • Google: Nexus 4/5/6/7
  • Samsung: Galaxy Note 2/3/4, Galaxy S3/S4/S5, S6/S6 Edge
  • Sony: Xperia Z3/Z3V

Most of the phones listed above have Wireless Qi charging built-in. Some require a replacement back plate that incorporates the wireless charge receiver; that adds a bit of thickness to the phone. See this list of Qi-enabled phones.

The list of phones that support PMA wireless charging is considerably smaller: ` Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, Nokia Lumia 830, Kyocera Hydro, Blackberry Classic and Blackberry Passport. The new Samsung Galaxy S6 phones are unique in that they have both Qi and PowerMat wireless charge receivers built right into them. Other phones can add Powermat capability with an addon back plate or dongle. Here's a list Powermat-certified products.

Starbucks is installing Powermat wireless charging stations in its stores, starting with 200 locations in San Francisco, and a handful in Boston and London. The Power Matters Alliance, which promotes the Powermat standard, has also partnered with General Motors, which has promised to bring wireless charging to their cars in the future.

For wireless charging at home or in the office, you'll need a Qi or Powermat charging pad that's compatible with your phone. Prices for those start at about $10.

What about Apple products? iPhone users are out of luck, because Apple is not supporting any of the current wireless charging standards. The best you can do is buy a little gadget that plugs into the phone's charging port, which connects a wireless charge receiver via a cable. So it's hardly wireless, and not very convenient.

Wireless charging will become as popular as wireless networking in the next few years. Which standard will prevail is still up in the air, which is why Samsung is building both Qi and Powermat into its latest phones. But 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 Charging"

Posted by:

David from Florida
24 Mar 2015

Wireless charging is a great thing for the objects intended to be charged, my concerns are what happens to things in your wallet? What? you know like credit cards that if placed inside an electromagnetic field will erase the data or scramble it to oblivion. Just a thought.

Posted by:

24 Mar 2015

I used the wrong info box. anyway I have used the the wireless charging bed for my nokia 920 lumia for two and a half years, it's always topped off and ready to go

Posted by:

Frank Cizek
24 Mar 2015

I wonder what constant charging will do to battery life? I think I've read that the best life comes from letting them discharge about 1/3 before recharging.

Posted by:

Jake Williams
24 Mar 2015

I am all for this, even though I have an Iphone.
Maybe Samsung is in my future. the fewer wires the better. I always use a wire mouse. Maybe those to will become rechargeable in the future.

Posted by:

24 Mar 2015

I wonder if the magnetic chargers will affect medical devices such as pacemakers, implantable defibrillators, insulin pumps, and such; especially if the chargers will work at a long distance.

Posted by:

24 Mar 2015

I'd like to see homes and businesses go whole-hog electromagnetic resonance, doing away with most power cords altogether. It won't happen until prices come down, so other technologies will likely be adopted first... but eventually it will happen.

Posted by:

Jeff Plunkett
24 Mar 2015

I have been using wireless Qi charging for my Nokia Lumia 822 Windows phone for well over a year now, and it charges fairly fast. The micro USB port on the phone has apparently been damaged, making the wireless charging my only saving grace.

Posted by:

Jay R
24 Mar 2015

The cords and transformers WILL disappear. You speak as if this is a future event. Mine are always disappearing. I think that they may be in cahoots with my keys. Or my check book.

Posted by:

24 Mar 2015

I use QI with the Nokia 735 .It works very well apart from the led on the charger which alternates from green to blue whenever charging is taking place . The other thing I wonder about is the efficiency as the charger asks for a 2 amp usb power supply while the transmitted output to the phone for recharging is I think only 1 amp . But as both phone and charger remain cool throughout I cant see where there is any power l.oss

Posted by:

25 Mar 2015

I got a new Toyota Camry that has a built-in QI charger. My Samsung Galaxy Note 4 has an optional QI charging back. But that back makes the phone thicker and the protective cases I put on the phone don't fit with the Samsung QI back. I bought a 3rd party QI adapter that fits under the standard back. It works pretty well. But it blocks the NFC from working. There are some 3rd party adapters now that will keep NFC working. I will probably try one of those soon.

But with my protective cover on, my phone is a little too large for the area that the Toyota QI charger leaves for the phone. I can force it in and it work. It was clearly designed for smaller phones.

But at home it is nice not to have to plug it in.

Warning: All QI chargers will get the phone a little warm so be careful. You don't want to fry your phone or battery.

Posted by:

25 Mar 2015

this has been around but not user and cost friendly and also compatible friendly, it will be standardized soon and those who do not go with the majority will go bust.

good thing is it will have broad implication on other products that need to be recharged. awaiting for the day, when it will be common wireless net format for all.

Posted by:

25 Mar 2015

Well, that was interesting. I wasn't finished with my comment. I hit my enter key, to start a new paragraph and suddenly, I was finished and my comment was going to Bob! LOL I probably, hit another key, with the enter key and that started the whole process.

I just started a new paragraph and the enter key is working, fine.

What I was going to say, is that I do not use my Smartphone, the way that others use theirs. I use it mainly, when I am out shopping or going out of town, to see doctors. My phone is mainly, to keep in touch, with my husband. He has multiple health issues and I feel better, knowing that he and I can talk, when necessary. He refuses to go shopping, with me. He claims, that I take too long, to shop. He's right, I do. LOL :)

Most people today, use their cell phones as their mainline phone. I don't. I still have a land line phone. I need to be able to call 911 and that 911 has my home address, the moment I call. My husband has 11 coronary stents, in his heart. He could have a heart attack, but, so far ... He hasn't had one in almost 11 years! I still, need to be on the cautious side, that is why I have a land line phone. I also, have been using a land line phone, for over 65 years. It just feels right, to me. :)

It doesn't bother me, to use a USB connection to charge my Smartphone, be it at home or in my car. I have a car charger, already set up and ready to go, when I need it. At home, I have my USB connector, plugged into my Surge Protector and it too, is ready to go. So, why would I need these kinds of chargers? Understand, I am only talking about MY needs, not anyone else's.

For those who are constantly on the phone, they need these chargers, to keep on going. I understand that completely and think, these kinds of chargers are a good thing ... As Martha Stewart is always saying. :o)

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