The uncertain future of wireless chargers; Why haven’t these chargers been able to replace the regular charger?

Wireless charging has always been an interesting feature for many users; But it is still not available everywhere as it should be. Wireless charging means you no longer need to connect the cable to the phone to charge it and you can place it on a pad. However, the phone must be in physical contact with the charging pad to charge.

A large number of phones and accessories have wireless charging capabilities; But you won’t find many public places with wireless chargers available. This is the world that is expected to happen in the future.

The main design

The first use of wireless charging came with the release of the Nokia Lumia 920 in 2012. Even though Nokia wasn’t the first manufacturer to put wireless charging on a phone, adding it to the phone helped popularize the feature and gradually more smartphones took advantage of the feature.

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At that time, there were two main standards for wireless charging, PMA and Qi. Qi finally became a mainstream standard in 2018, and you’ll find it in many of the best Android phones and iPhones today.

qi charging standard

According to Strategy Analytics, there are more than one billion smartphones with wireless charging capabilities. It is said that wireless charging accounts for nearly a third of global smartphone sales.

This statistic is very significant and is expected to increase to 2.2 billion by 2026. It will continue to grow as the technology becomes more popular, especially among wireless headphones. However, contrary to the expected growth, wireless charging in public places still seems rare, at least for now.

When Nokia introduced wireless charging, it was thought that in the near future, it would be possible to enter various places such as a coffee shop, library, or even a movie theater and place the phone on a predetermined charging section to charge; But not yet.

Wireless charging is not cheap

Pixel stand

As noted by strategy consultant Next Move, the expensive infrastructure required to integrate wireless charging is expected to hinder market growth during the forecast period. This means that companies must justify the cost of equipping their spaces with wireless charging, whether that means purchasing integrated provisioning or somehow adding wireless charging to their existing portfolios.

Jitesh OberaniIn general, it’s still cheaper to have a regular outlet that can serve multiple purposes than a dedicated wireless charger that only supports smartphones and other small devices, explained the IDC research director. Although the cost of wireless chargers has decreased over the years; But it’s still more than a regular power outlet.

He also says there is a lack of public education about the feature, and many consumers aren’t sure if their phones even support it. Smartphone owners may be disappointed when they find that their phone doesn’t support wireless charging or even that it doesn’t charge as fast as they expected.

Smartphone manufacturers seem to have contributed to this confusion, especially given their mixed behavior with wireless charging. Some companies, especially the Chinese, have put forward information about the speed of wireless charging.

For example, the OnePlus 10 Pro has 50W fast wireless charging, which is faster than most phones even when plugged in. Even the Pixel 6 series can charge slightly faster than Samsung’s phones, although a Pixel Stand (2nd generation) is required to achieve higher speeds.

Meanwhile, Apple and Samsung, which dominate the US market, have limited their wireless charging speeds to a maximum of 15 watts. Of course, these companies stick to more standard methods, while other manufacturers design their own systems to achieve such impressive speeds.

Following the European Union’s decision to make USB-C the standard charging cable for smartphones and other devices, one might question whether government intervention is necessary to boost wireless charging innovation around a single (Qi) charging standard. IDC research director says it can help; But there aren’t enough supported smartphones to justify any action.

This feature is usually only included in premium products; So the government only focuses on a subset of users instead of the mass market. Thus, Samsung, Oppo, Xiaomi and others have no reason or need to implement proprietary standards. Rather, having a separate standard is to their advantage because they can use it as a point of differentiation and increase accessory sales.

Reverse wireless charging

Reverse charging is another feature of smartphones that uses the same wireless charging solution in its heart. However, the mentioned technology has not been welcomed by users as much as it should be; Therefore, it is not bad to take a closer look at this technology and find out what factors caused this issue.

Reverse wireless charging vs wireless charging

As we said, Qi is the most widespread wireless charging standard. Wireless charging allows you to place your smartphone on a charging pad and the energy is drained from that pad and stored in the phone’s battery.

Of course, while it’s called “wireless charging,” that’s a bit of a misnomer. Here, wireless charging does not mean “wireless” as we usually think. Wireless charging is called because you no longer need to connect the cable to the phone to charge it, and you can place it on a pad. However, the phone must be in physical contact with the charging pad to be charged; So it’s not really wireless.

So what is reverse wireless charging?

Reverse wireless charging basically turns your smartphone into a wireless charging pad, so a phone with reverse wireless charging capability can actually charge other devices that support wireless charging.

For example, if you have wireless headphones that come with a wireless charging case, you can place them on the back of a smartphone that supports reverse wireless charging to recharge the headphones.

Reverse wireless charging phones can also send their battery power to other devices, such as other wireless charging-capable smartphones and tablets.

Is reverse wireless charging useful?

It also depends on your point of view; But overall, reverse wireless charging now has many technological drawbacks. The first is that reverse wireless charging is slow. It has a maximum power of about 10 watts, which is much slower than the speed of Qi charging pads, which can range from 30 watts to 80 watts or more. That means don’t expect to charge your smartphone or headphones in minutes using reverse wireless charging.

Reverse wireless charging also drains your smartphone battery; Because it sends its energy to any device that has reverse wireless charging.

Because of these limitations, reverse wireless charging is only good for emergency charges when your other device only needs 5 or 10 percent more charge to get through a critical period.

Evolution of charging technology

Remote phone charging

It’s not as bad as you might think, and there are plenty of convenient uses for wireless charging. For example, you can easily place your phone on a pad when you are sleeping or working. So, you don’t have to worry about finding or making noise with the wires.

Having access to wireless chargers in more public places can save us from having to carry our own chargers with us or hunt for outlets.

A few companies are also working to fix some of the problems with wireless chargers. Manufacturers including Motorola, Xiaomi, and even Oppo have demonstrated remote charging that eliminates the need to even place your phone on a wireless charging pad.

These devices use a set of antennas that convert the waves into a device (at least four with Motorola’s solution) to charge it from a certain distance. This action is not a complete solution; Because there’s a limited distance the stations can travel, and they only offer up to 5W of charging, which is far less than our other favorite wireless chargers. With these interpretations, it seems that companies are dedicated to improving the technology to make it more usable.

However, IDC research director It says it still has a long way to go, and the technology will likely face more challenges than standard wireless charging. We’re still years away from remote charging being safe as well as affordable, so I don’t think charging via this technology is a positive.

The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) also echoes IDC research director’s concerns about remote charging on its FAQ page.

Although far-field techniques (point fields around a wave source that are far from the source) are conceptually interesting; But they have significant cost, efficiency and safety issues. Near-field wireless charging has proven to be more suitable for consumer electronics.

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In the meantime, Apple has its own solution that has gradually made its way to Android phones. MagSafe is an interesting form of wireless charging that attaches to the back of a compatible iPhone with a magnet, allowing you to charge your phone wirelessly while you’re using it. There are even MagSafe compatible power banks that make it easy to charge your phone on the go without being plugged in.

Although it is very interesting to see this feature in Android phones; But so far, Realme and Oppo are the only Android manufacturers who have introduced their solutions; But Samsung’s MagSafe charger is expected to cause controversy.

The future of wireless charging

Wireless charging technology in the phone

Reports suggest that the wireless charging market could reach $185 billion by 2030. With the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack on new smartphones, wireless car charging docks can be useful for anyone who prefers to use their USB-C port to connect to their car for Android Auto. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have a few pads around the house, by the bedside table, on the kitchen table, or even on the coffee table.

Given that many high-end Android phones don’t come with a charging adapter in the box, it’s likely that consumers will buy a wall adapter instead of a wireless charger, which often costs more despite being limited to slower speeds of between 5 and 15 watts.

Even if a new wall adapter isn’t necessary, consumers still need to decide whether it’s worth buying a wireless charger.

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Finally, if wireless charging of any kind costs more than conventional chargers and increases device costs, then it won’t be widely used. Because although it is good to use this feature; But it is still not necessary.

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