Wireless charging is magic. Actually, it’s not. But if you weren’t living in the 21st century, it might as well be. Wireless charging is – literally – charging without the need of a wire. No cables, tangling or frustration. Simply drop your smartphone on a wireless charger and watch the magic begin.
It’s not magic – so what is it, scientifically?
Wireless charging – or inductive charging – is a method of charging electronics that uses an electromagnetic field to send energy between two objects. Both objects require an induction coil within them to transfer energy a.k.a. charge.
- Power is provided to the wireless charger via a cable connecting it to a battery charger.
- Energy provided is alternating current (AC).
- The wireless charger then sends that energy via induction coil to the device’s induction coil.
- Alternative currents between the two induction coils create a magnetic field.
- The magnetic field generates a current within the device.
- Current flowing into the device’s induction coil (receiver coil) is converted into direct current (DC).
- The device is thus charged.
The key advantages of wireless charging are:
- No wires to connect the two objects to charge.
- Electronics are closed and nothing is exposed to water or air or particles. Corrosion and electrical faults are therefore not a concern.
- Without having to plug or unplug anything, charging ports remain durable and in good condition.
- It is aesthetically pleasing. No cables are involved.
Wireless charging is magical, but it does have disadvantages. For example, because a direct current is not sent from charger to device, the device charges slower. Much of the energy is lost during conversion. At the same time, inconvenience is an issue. To charge a device wirelessly, it must remain on the wireless charger. Moving it away cancels the charge. This means you can hardly use your phone while charging.
Lastly, a big issue is heat. Wireless charging causes phones to heat up considerably, which could potentially harm its battery.
It’s still a baby
Wireless charging is still a baby, but there is much more technological innovation and development planned. Multiple standards currently exist, but for smartphones and tablets, Qi is the one to look at. Most smartphones that support wireless charging use this standard.
Samsung Galaxy S6/S7/S8, Google Nexus 5/6 and Nokia Lumia lines use Qi wireless charging. With the vast amount of smartphones out there, consumers can expect Qi and other standards to be adopted in the future.
It’s not just smartphones adopting wireless charging as a safe and convenient method of charging. Wearable tech like smartwatches are next in line. It’s much easier to charge a smartwatch by dropping it on a wireless charger than plugging it in and out each time.
Companies have also developed ways to bring this convenient method of charging to electronic devices that use AA batteries. Video game controllers, remotes, toys and many more consumer electronics use AA batteries. PowerbyProxi has developed a method to create wirelessly charging AA batteries. Imagine dropping your PlayStation controller, drone or RC car onto a wireless charger without needing to carry and fumble around with cables. It even becomes unnecessary to remove batteries from electronics to charge them.
It’s an eco-friendly method that will reduce battery waste, which is a difficult and hazardous material to dispose.
Don’t have a Qi compatible phone? Don’t worry!
There are a few ways to bring wireless charging to your device. If you’re lucky enough to have a phone with a removable back cover, you can apply a wireless charging adapter to the back, such as the one in this video. As the adapter sticks onto the battery and is hidden under the back cover, an attached cable inserts into the phone’s charging port. This then delivers power to the phone via wireless charging.
Some phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 have stick-on wireless charging coils that don’t require the need for a charging port. They simply stick onto the battery and provide wireless charging capabilities. Check out this video to see how it works.
If your phone is sealed and can’t be pried open, you may still be in luck. For example, Sony’s Xperia Z2 and Z3 can be wirelessly charged by purchasing a case that has a battery and wireless capability built-in. You’ll always need to have the case on, though. A few products with the same function also exist for Apple’s iPhones. If you’re looking for longer battery life and protection, these two-in-one wireless charging cases are a handy phone accessory.
Is wireless charging the future?
A wireless charging future is a convenient future. Technologies are being developed where devices can be charged simply by entering a room. Wireless charging may one day be an invisible wavelength always around us. But that is still a future to look forward to.
We are heading towards a wireless future, but a wirelessly charged future is still in the works.