When it comes to wireless charging on smartphones, tablets, and (soon) smartwatches, there’s only one standard we really care about: Qi from the Wireless Power Consortium. Sure, there are those companies who would really like us to use the PMA standard, but the support just isn’t where it needs to be: in the hardware of the majority of phones with wireless charging, coming from our favorite manufacturers. For you fellow fans of Qi, the group behind it has some great news for you today, as it announces a new version of its standard that’s going to start increasing the distance over which wireless charging is possible.
Right now, Qi uses inductive coupling to transfer power from chargers to devices. And while that works well, things need to be really close for that inductive magic to happen: think on the order of 7mm, so close that when we factor in the thickness of enclosures, we essentially mean a phone lying flat, right on its charger.
But for version 1.2 of the Qi standard, a resonant charging extension is being introduced that will support charging over distances of up to 45mm – that’s just under two inches. That may not seem like a lot, but for anyone who’s struggled in getting a charger precisely aligned, that extra wiggle room could spell a big difference.
Better still, Qi 1.2 is backwards-compatible with existing Qi devices, and while they won’t see quite the same extended range, even older Qi 1.1 devices should be able to charge at distances as far as 30mm from new Qi 1.2 chargers. Sounds like a win all around to us.