Wireless charging explained: Power your smartphone wire-free
Wireless charging has been around for a good few years now, but it’s only recently that it’s started to take off.
So what exactly is wireless charging, how does it work and does your phone even support it? Allow us to answer all these questions and more.
What is wireless charging?
Wireless charging is the transfer of power from power outlet to device, without the need for a connecting cable. It involves a power transmitting pad and a receiver, sometimes in the form of a case attached to a mobile device or even built into the phone itself.
Phones and tablets with built-in Qi wireless charging
If your phone is among one of the devices that appear here, you just need to buy a wireless charger. Note that you don’t need to get a wireless charger made by the same company as your phone, e.g. Samsung wireless chargers work just fine with the iPhone X.
- Samsung Galaxy: Note 9, S9, S9+, Note 8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge (Plus more devices)
- Apple iPhone: 8, 8 Plus, X, XR, XS, XS MAX
- Sony: Xperia XZ3, Xperia XZ2 Premium, Xperia XZ2 (Plus more devices)
- LG: G7 ThinQ, V30, G6 (US version only), G4 (optional), G3 (optional) (Plus more devices)
- Nokia: 8 Sirocco
- Huawei: Mate series (Plus more devices)
- Microsoft Lumia: 1520, 1020, 930, 929, 928, 920
- Google Nexus: 4, 5, 6, 7 (2013) Pixel series
- BlackBerry: Priv (Plus more devices)
How does wireless charging work?
Wireless charging is based on inductive charging, whereby power is created by passing an electrical current through two coils to create an electromagnetic field.
When the receiving magnetic plate on the mobile device comes into contact with the transmitter – or at least within the specified range – the magnetic field generates an electrical current within the device.
This current is then converted into direct current (DC), which in turn charges the built-in battery.
What are the standards for wireless charging?
The main wireless standard you might have heard of is Qi (pronounced “Chee”). Qi is a standard that has been developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) for inductive charging over distances of up to 40mm.
Another wireless charging standard was Powermat, but it had a change of heart earlier this year. Powermat and Qi were two opposing standards and Powermat was used by some retailers such as Starbucks for customers to charge their phones and they weren’t cross-compatible.
Qi wireless charging has been adopted by many of the major smartphone manufacturers: Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, Huawei, Nokia, Apple, Motorola and Blackberry.
Can I get a wireless charging adapter for my phone?
There are now products on the market that plug into the charging port of your phone – Micro USB, Mini USB, USB-C and Lightning are all supported – and a thin plate slips between the back of your phone and a regular case. This plate receives a current from Qi charging pads to wirelessly charge your phone.
Can I get wireless charging in my car?
Many car manufacturers have wireless charging in some models, but often it isn’t as standard. These include various models from Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Toyota, Volvo and the WV group.
What are the advantages of wireless charging?
- Safer way to transfer power to your phone.
- Simple to just drop your phone on the charging pad.
- Puts less strain on the charging port of your phone.
- Qi wireless charging pads being installed in various places around the world, if you run out of juice and don’t have a cable you can still charge your phone.
What are the disadvantages of wireless charging?
- Wireless charging is slower, especially for phones with Quick Charge technology – plugging into a wall outlet will be much, much quicker for those devices.
- If you’ve got your phone charging via a cable, you can still hold it and use it as normal. If you take your phone off a wireless charging pad to use it, it stops charging.
- Adapters and cases are expensive because the technology is expensive to produce.
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