Is Inductive Charging the Future?

Inductive charging is a form of wireless charging that has been around for a few years - think about how you charge your electric toothbrush. Inductive charging technologies are improving at a rapid pace and are now being featured in our smartphones!

Last updated: 11th Jul 2019 at 11:15am

Inductive Charging | Wireless Charging | Benefits & Drawbacks | PhonesWireless Chargers | The Future

What is inductive charging?

Inductive charging has been around for a while and you may not realise that it has been hiding in your home and more precisely in your bathroom. The electric toothbrush uses wireless charging technology and is a great example of this type of near-field transfer technology, where charging takes place over a short distance, by putting the toothbrush on its charging stand.

In the case of mobile phones, there is no cable connection between the charger and the phone. You simply plug the wireless charger into a power socket and set your phone down on a charging pad, stand, or dock.

Qi wireless charging is the most popular standard that is now being used by Apple and Samsung for charging devices, along with most other mobile phone manufacturers. The Qi standard means that all Qi chargers are compatible with all phones that comply to the standard. This makes it possible for you to charge your phone wirelessly, wherever you find a wireless charging point, be that in your home, your friend’s home, a cafe, or any other location.

How does wireless charging work?

Wireless charging is based on inductive charging technology and this is surprisingly easy to understand. In the wireless charging pad (transmitter), an electric current runs through a coil and this creates an electromagnetic field.

The phone (receiver) has its own coil and this receives the power, in the electromagnetic field that has been created. This current is converted into DC (direct current) by the phone, to charge its battery.

The Qi standard has been created by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), and this covers charging technology at distances of up to 4cm. This may sound limiting but many inductive charging pads have numerous coils, allowing you to place your phone on the pad without having to carefully align it. 

In the case of smartphones, several wattages are supported, and the higher the wattage, the more electrical energy and the faster the phone will charge. 5W wireless chargers are the least powerful, 7.5W and 10W chargers sit in the mid-range, and 15W chargers are the most powerful.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Benefits:

  • A safer way to charge your phone
  • Reduced wear of the charging port on your phone
  • It's simple to use, just pop your phone on the charging pad
  • You can use public wireless charging stations

Drawbacks:

  • Not all phones have wireless charging built-in
  • Phones must have a glass back, which can be less durable, depending on the glass used 
  • You cannot hold the phone while it is charging, hence making it difficult to use
  • Charging is usually slower than charging using a power adaptor and cable
  • Wireless chargers have reduced energy efficiency
  • Wireless chargers and wireless charging phones have higher manufacturing costs

What phones support wireless charging?

Wireless charging smartphones have inductive charging built-in and there are currently more than 600 mobile phone models with this, giving you plenty of choices or an increased likelihood that the phone you own is already wireless charging-ready. If your phone supports wireless charging then all you need to do is buy a wireless charger.

Popular phones that support wireless charging include:

  • Apple iPhone – XR, XS, XS Max, X, 8, 8 Plus  
  • Samsung Galaxy – S10, S10 Plus, S10e, S9, S9+, S8, S7, S6, Note 9, Note 8
  • Huawei – P30 Pro, Mate 20 Pro
  • Google Pixel – 3, 3XL
  • Google Nexus – 6, 5, 4
  • Nokia – 9 PureView, 8 Sirocco
  • Sony Xperia – XZ3, XZ2, XZ2 Premium 
  • LG – V30, G7 ThinQ 
  • BlackBerry – PRIV, Passport, Z30
  • Xiaomi – Mi 9, Mi Mix 3

Some phones that don’t have inductive charging built in, can be upgraded for wireless charging. To do this you will need to purchase a wireless charging back cover. A second option is to buy a wireless charging adaptor that will plug into the Micro USB port or Lightning port, in the case of an Apple iPhone. 

Wireless Chargers

Wireless chargers come in all different shapes, sizes, and colours. Some charging systems have a mat or pad design, while others come in the form of a desktop stand. You can buy a wireless charger for home or work, or even buy a wireless charger that is designed for use in your car. IKEA provides an additional option with furniture on sale, such as a nightstand or coffee table, that has a wireless charger incorporated into the design.

If you are looking for a wireless charging mat for your Apple phone, then you can choose any charger that works on the Qi charging standard. However, we will point out here that the Apple Watch cannot be charged on a non-apple wireless charger. If you own this combination of Apple devices, then be sure to choose the Apple AirPower charger, to ensure multi-device compatibility.

The future of wireless charging

Inductive charging is less in the future than you might think. Medium and high-powered wireless chargers are already on the market and include:

  • Medium-powered chargers up to 120W for charging laptops and monitors
  • High-power charges up to 1KW that can charge kitchen utensils

More than 320 companies are creating products under the Qi wireless charging standard, including Philips, Samsung, HTC, Sanyo, Motorola, Apple, Sony, Ericsson, and Sanyo.

So, the next time you are looking to buy a new piece of tech, asking if it supports inductive charging, might be the first question you ask.

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