Wireless charging from A to Z: What you need to know

The mobile industry has been moving toward wireless charging for about a decade, but it wasn't until Apple came aboard that the choice in chargers really expanded. Soon the technology will enable even more power on the go.

Apple iPhone 8 & 8 Plus unboxing and wireless charging tests
Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The term wireless charging has been around since... well, Nikola Tesla attempted to demonstrate it in 1901. For nearly a century after, however, the technology was without many practical uses, except, perhaps, for a few electric toothbrush models.

Over the past decade, wireless charging matured through the formation of various standards groups such as the Wireless Power Consortium, and through mainstream adoption by mobile device makers, such as Samsung in 2014, and finally, Apple in 2017.

To date, wireless charging has consisted of direct-contact charging pads using tightly-coupled induction technology; that combo creates an electromagnetic field between  two copper coils. Induction charging, while widely adopted because of Qi and other specifications, greatly limits the placement of a smartphone or other device on a charging pad. Nevertheless, inductive charging has become the de facto industry standard.

Greater device mobility may be just around the corner with the adoption of magnetic resonance and uncoupled charging, where power is transferred over longer distances between copper coils or through the air via radio frequency (RF), infrared (IR) and ultrasound. All are better suited for charging wearables, IoT devices and even electric vehicles.

Included here are links to stories that help you understand wireless charging, covering everything from the latest multi-device charging pads to whether it can hurt your smartphone or allow that smart watch on your wrist to charge as you walk around.

The state of wireless charging: 2018 and beyond

While direct-contact pads have been the focus of wireless charging lately, the future might actually be more ethereal. Literally.

Wireless charging explained: What is it and how does it work?

Wireless charging technology has been around for more than 100 years, but its inclusion in devices such as Apple's new iPhone line has given it new life. Here's how it works, and why it could soon show up in everything from homes to robots.

cw boostup wireless charger diagram Belkin/IDG

Belkin's BoosUp wireless charging pad is similar to others on the market in that it contains a copper transmitter charging coil, a chipset to control the power delivered to a device, and foreign object detection technoogy to ensure objects that shouldn't receive a charge don't.

Is wireless charging bad for your smartphone?

With smartphone makers adopting wireless charging for more and more of their devices, many users will be tempted to leave their phones on an inductive charging pad all day. Will that hurt the battery?

16 multi-device wireless chargers to replace Apple’s defunct AirPower

Though Apple never shipped AirPower, a wireless charging pad capable of powering up three different devices at the same time, there are alternatives already on the market for both iPhones and Android devices.

Belkin Introduces BOOST↑UP Wireless Charging Dock Enhanced For iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR A Belkin

16 single-device wireless chargers for iPhones and Android devices

We've compiled a list of Qi-enabled chargers – including the new Google Pixel Stand – designed for use with Apple's latest iPhones and various Android devices.

Review: 4 wireless chargers for both smartphone and watch

These wireless chargers for Apple and Android devices offer the option of powering up your smartphone and smartwatch at the same time - though the features and prices differ significantly among them.

wireless chargers2 IDG

Why did Apple kill its AirPower wireless charger?

More than a year and a half after it announced it would release a wireless charger capable of concurrently powering up an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods, Apple on Friday said it had thrown up its hands in defeat.

Review: Belkin aims for the enterprise with Boost Up wireless charging spot

Belkin is targeting corporate users with its wireless charging pad, but there are a few tweaks needed before it's a perfect fit for the boardroom.

Apple's big impact on wireless charging: 6 billion+ units to ship by 2023

Wireless charging received a big boost from Apple, but pads using tightly coupled charging technology are only the beginning; new markets for IoT, medical and mobile technologies are emerging.

Wireless charging over distance just got a boost

Companies developing wireless charging that can be projected up to several meters away have partnered with electronics industry stalwarts, paving the way for actual product shipments this year.

energous wireless power Energous

Michael Leabman, founder and CTO of Energous, demonstrates how one of the company's wireless charging routers can send power at midrange and far-range distances.

Powermat joins the Wireless Power Consortium, touts 15-watt underdesk charging

Wireless charging firm Powermat will join an industry consortium it once competed against and announced the Charging Spot 4.0, which will enable 15-watt power transfers and offer compatibility with new iPhones.

Review: Choetech's PowerDual 5 is 'a quality charger with limitations'

China-based Choetech has released what it says is a "breakthrough" in wireless charging: a pad with five overlapping coils that offer users free range in how they position up to two smart phones for charging. In short, they can be plopped onto the charging pad at any angle and they will receive a charge.

Review: Bezalel’s Prelude wireless smartphone charger loses the cable

Take the wireless charging and combine it with a portable, battery power bank and you've got something truly mobile. That's one of the innovations of inductive wireless charging – battery packs that can be used on the go to wirelessly charge your smartphone. Los Angeles-based Bezalel is one of several companies now making such a device, which offers several unique features.

BEZALEL Prelude wireless portable charging BEZALEL

Start-up ships AirPower wireless charger alternative for ‘fanboys’

The new AirUnleashed wireless charging mat takes its aesthetic looks from published images of Apple's cancelled AirPower charging pad, but its internal design is much  more simple. Plus it's actually available (for $99).

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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