Samsung definitely has. The company has patented a design for a smartphone case that can wirelessly charge your Gear S3 smartwatch via Millimeter Wave Technology. Apple also has a wireless charging case patent on file and is rumored to be working on a similar product for iPhone and Apple Watch owners.
The looming wireless power standards showdown
Samsung’s patent was filed in December 2016 while Apple’s was filed in Q4, 2015. Both companies are members of the Wireless Power Consortium, a large wireless charging advocacy group comprised of various manufacturers with the express intention of advancing standards like Millimeter Wave Technology and Qi.
Now, patents do not equal actual products the vast majority of the time, but if Apple is actively working on a product of this sort then it’s possible that Samsung’s charging case is also more than a loose blueprint. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office revealed the existence of Samsung’s patent just yesterday.
As Patently Mobile notes however, Samsung has the upper hand here because its patent allows a Gear S3 smartwatch to be charged simply by sitting on the top of an S-View case. Power is converted from the smartphone’s battery via a USB Type-C connector and then through a wireless charging coil to the wearable.
Samsung’s patent shows a wireless transmission coil in the front flap of the case, meaning a device – in this case a Gear S3 – could be wirelessly charged whenever you put it on your smartphone case, regardless of whether it’s open or closed. Other devices could also be charged in this way, using a frequency range between 110-205 kHz for power transmission and an AC/DC converter.
You can visit the U.S. PTO if you want to know the specifics of how this might all work, but the bigger question here is would this really be useful?
Being able to quickly top up your smartwatch battery via your phone case is a pretty nifty idea, but just how often are you likely to do that? Our phones rarely have sufficient battery to get themselves through the day, let alone while powering other accessories. Let us know your thoughts in the comments: would you buy a case like this or should Samsung put bigger batteries in its phones first?