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What is Qi2 wireless charging? Everything you need to know
In January 2023, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) introduced us to Qi2 — a major update to the long-standing Qi wireless charging standard. A full decade has passed since wireless charging first began appearing on smartphones. And with Qi2, the WPC hopes to solve the technology’s biggest problems — from power efficiency to convenience — in one fell swoop.
Qi2 owes a lot of its existence to Apple. The company worked closely with the WPC to integrate the iPhone’s MagSafe technology into the new standard. This so-called “magnetic power profile” also opens the door to an entire future ecosystem of snap-on accessories. Of course, Qi2 has a lot more in store, so let’s go over all of the upgrades coming with Qi2, and when it might come to a smartphone near you.
What is Qi2? How is it an upgrade over regular wireless charging?
As I mentioned above, Qi2’s magnetic power profile forms the core upgrade over the existing Qi standard. A ring of magnets surrounding the charging coil ensures that your smartphone aligns perfectly with a wireless charger. To understand why that’s important, it’s worth talking about how wireless charging works in the first place.
Wireless charging relies on the law of electromagnetic induction. Inside every single wireless charger, you’ll find a coil of copper wire. When you plug it in, the electric current passing through this coil generates a magnetic field. Meanwhile, phones that support wireless charging include a coil under their back plastic or glass shells. And when you place your device on a charging pad, the magnetic field from the charger induces an electric current in the phone’s coil.
Qi2 uses magnets to fix some big wireless charging problems, including overheating.
While the idea behind wireless charging is simple enough, the efficiency of power transfer drops as soon as you increase the distance between the coils. You may have noticed your phone stop charging pretty quickly once you lift it away from a wireless charger. The concept applies both vertically and horizontally — if the coils aren’t aligned, charging speeds will drop. The following graphic shows both cases:
As you may have guessed, Qi2’s magnets solve this problem by aligning the transmitter and receiver coils almost perfectly. And since energy lost during wireless charging is typically converted into heat, your device won’t warm up as much either. This makes Qi2 a lot less destructive to your smartphone’s long-term battery health.
Finally, Qi2’s magnetic ring will likely also result in a flood of new quick-attach accessories on the market. We’ve already seen this happen in the iPhone world, as you can buy many non-charging MagSafe accessories like tripods, wallets, and even cooling fans.
Qi vs Qi2: What’s the difference?
We’ve already discussed the magnetic aspect of Qi2, but there’s a lot more to the standard.
- Faster charging: The WPC says that Qi2’s tight coupling will allow for faster wireless charging. The standard will initially launch with the same 15W limit, but higher power profiles will follow as the standard matures. In an interview with Android Authority, the WPC’s Marketing Director said that a Qi2.1 revision will bring faster wireless charging sometime in mid-2024. The body is also looking to add support for smartwatches and tablets around that time. Initially, Qi2 will only target phones and wireless earbuds.
- Quality control and certification: Qi2 is a stricter standard. Manufacturers will have to undergo a certification process, and only certified products will bear the standard’s logo. This should ensure that counterfeit or unsafe products are less likely to make their way onto storefronts like Amazon. In a recent statement to The Verge, the WPC said it will also mandate the size and strength of magnets to ensure a strong connection. Overall, the body says it’s committed to enforcing these standards, as it doesn’t want to dilute the Qi branding.
- Third-party accessories: Ever since Apple released MagSafe, we’ve seen accessory makers come up with various use-cases for it. From pop sockets to wallets, expect to see a lot of non-charging accessories for Qi2 smartphones to appear on store shelves.
The WPC plans to strictly regulate Qi2 devices through a rigorous certification process.
To note, the Qi2 standard requires an authentication handshake. This means that devices can refuse to draw power from non-compliant chargers. You’ll still be able to find third-party wireless chargers from brands like Belkin and Anker, but not $15 uncertified alternatives on sites like AliExpress.
Which phones and wireless chargers support Qi2?
The first phones with Qi2 support are the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro. They haven’t been certified yet, and even Apple is only promising “future Qi2 wireless charging.” The WPC’s marketing director, Paul Golden, tells The Verge that no products have been certified to date, even though the Qi2 standard was recently finalized. The consortium is aiming for a “soft launch” in October 2023, with a more substantial one in November. It’s not clear what that means.
We do know that the WPC has nearly 400 members, including most smartphone brands, so we should see the new standard become widely available later in 2024. Accessory makers like Anker, Mophie, and Belkin have already announced Qi2 charging products. But even though rumors indicated the Samsung would become the first to support the new wireless charging standard, Qi2 was conspicuously absent on the Galaxy S24 series early on in 2024.
Qi2 is based on the same technology as Apple’s MagSafe, but it’s a universal standard designed for all smartphones. We tested an existing MagSafe iPhone with an early Qi2 demo and were able to charge it up.
The initial version of Qi2 will offer 15W, much like MagSafe, but expect faster speeds around mid-2024.