June 25, 2019

Wireless charging explained: Engineers answer your top questions

By Team Ventev Topic: Chargers Tech Specs

Wireless charging is ultra-convenient. While it’s been seen in Android phones since 2012, it wasn’t until 2017 and the introduction of the iPhone 8 that wireless charging became a default feature for almost any premium smartphone.

But there’s still a lot of confusion around how wireless charging technology works.

Smartphone users continue to ask how they can charge their phone wirelessly, how fast can it charge, and what exactly is Qi (pronounced CHEE)?

We gathered Ventev’s resident mobile tech experts to weigh in on the most common questions we’re hearing from retailers and consumers. Here’s your guide to everything wireless charging.

How does wireless charging work?

Wireless charging requires both the phone and the charger to have an induction coil. When coils detect each other, they generate an electromagnetic field that transfers energy from charger to phone.

Do all phones charge wirelessly?

For the most part, yes. As we mentioned above, it’s become a default feature on most smartphones released after 2017. If you have a smartphone made prior to 2017, it may or may not feature wireless charging, but you can probably find a case with a wireless charging receiver that plugs into your phone’s charging port to allow wireless charging.

Even if you have a wireless charging-enabled phone, it isn’t necessarily the case that all wireless charging accessories will work with it. While Qi has come to dominate the wireless charging ecosystem, some phones use different charging standards and you must know which one your phone relies on to ensure it’s compatible with a charger.

We should note that Ventev’s wireless chargers are universal, meaning they are compatible with both charging standards – Qi and Samsung’s Fast Wireless Charging. Any wireless charger you buy from Ventev will charge any wireless charging-enabled phone.

wirless charging explained

What is Qi technology?

QiQi is the leading standard for wireless charging. It’s named after the Chinese word that means “flowing energy.” Officially, it’s one of the major wireless charging standards for phones (Fast Wireless Charging is another one). But now that Apple has thrown its considerable weight behind Qi, it has a dominant position in the market, and the future of Fast Wireless Charging is unclear.

Can I touch my phone while it is wirelessly charging?

Yes. You can use your phone while it is wirelessly charging, but the induction coils need to be fairly close together. You can use a handsfree speakerphone feature if you have a charging mat. If you want to use FaceTime or even watch a movie while charging, look for a charger that allows you to prop your phone up into an upright position, like our wireless chargestand.

Which is faster: wired or wireless charging?

Wired charging is almost always faster than wireless charging with the technology we have today. Two exceptions: if you’re charging using your laptop’s USB port or the USB port in your car. In these instances you’re most likely not charging your phone at its optimal rate, so it may be slower than wireless charging.

However, in the early days of wireless charging, the maximum charging speed amounted to about 5 watts. This meant that it could take as long as three hours to fully charge some phones.

Now, the maximum wireless charging speed is 15 watts. Although no phones have taken advantage of this speed yet, several phones charge at 10 watts. But that hasn’t stopped Ventev from making accessories that take advantage of top wireless charging speeds.

Ventev’s wireless chargestand charges at up to 15 watts wireless, while the wireless charging car kit, wireless watchdock duo, wireless chargepad duo, and wireless chargepad+ all charge at 10 watts.

Can I use a phone case while wirelessly charging?

It depends. As we talked about above, sometimes a case is what makes wireless charging possible if a phone doesn’t support it. But if the phone is capable of wireless charging, thicker cases may prevent it from receiving a wireless charge. Ventev’s wireless charging solutions should work with the most popular cases on the market today. Additionally, cases that have metal or magnets in them, like those sold with magnetic car mounts, or those built to be super-durable, may not support wireless charging. Check the case’s packaging for any warnings.

Will wireless charging damage my phone battery?

No, wireless charging will not damage a cellphone battery.

Does wireless charging transfer data?

No. There are other technologies that transfer data wirelessly, but the wireless charging specs do nothing with data transfer.

What’s next for wireless charging?

There’s a lot of research into non-contact wireless charging. Imagine rooms that are outfitted with devices that can beam energy over distance. That means you won’t have to put the phone on a charging pad. Other initiatives call for putting low-power wireless charging pads everywhere – integrated into furniture, like the armrests of a movie theater seat or on your kitchen counter, a bar top, or your desk at work. In this scenario, people will go through the day “topping off” rather than getting a full charge.

The ‘Qi’ symbol is a trademark of the Wireless Power Consortium.

 

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