Wireless charging is becoming an increasingly popular feature in top of the line smartphones. The new Galaxy S4 comes with built in wireless charging, but Samsung doesn’t see the Qi technology (the current standard found in most wireless charging products) used in its new flagship handset as the long term solution.
Last year Samsung Electronics and Qualcomm partnered up to form the Alliance for Wirless Power (A4WP), which has since been developing and promoting its new wireless charging specification called WiPower. Although the technology has been in development for a while, this week Samsung stated that it intends to make Qi-based charging obsolete when it releases products using its own WiPower compatible devices.
There are some pretty significant differences between Qi and WiPower, both in terms of how they work and what they allow consumers to do with them. Design wise, WiPower is based on magnetic resonance charging where as Qi is based on magnetic induction. What this means is that Qi requires contact, or a very short distance, between the device and the charging mat, where as Samsung’s new technology can charge devices when they are theoretically several feet away from the power source.
Ok in reality that doesn’t mean that you’ll charging phones between rooms, but a charging box or small charge transmitter on your desk with the range of several inches or a foot is quite possible.
Another major difference between the two, in terms of consumer usage, is that the WiPower specification allows for simultaneous multiple-device charging from a small source. As the technology allows for greater distances between the phone and charger you can theoretically charge an unlimited number of devices at once, as you aren’t limited by charge mat space. However connecting multiple smartphones or tablets will mean that the charging power is shared, increasing the time needed to fully charge each device.
Michael Lin, a principal engineer at Samsung Electronics, had this to say about WiPower adoption:
“From Samsung’s standpoint, with as many phones as we sell, we can increase [adoption] of the standard and really create an ecosystem for wireless power … and create interoperability across the industry,”
So there’s a very good chance that all future flagship Samsung smartphones, but sadly not the Galaxy S4, will ship with built in “true” wireless charging. If all goes to plan a wider variety of technological goods may also adopt the A4WP standard in the future.
According to Michael Lin, smartphone manufacturers won’t begin shipping WiPower enabled phones or charging pads this year. But if manufactures stay on schedule and begin production in the second half of this year, then we could see the first compliant devices appear in 2014.