Will improved distance win over wireless charging nay-sayers?


For many of us who have gotten a taste of wireless charging, there’s no possible way we can picture ourselves going back to old-fashioned wired charging. Sure, I still plug my phone in while I’m in the car, but that’s simply because I haven’t found a wireless charger that satisfies my needs (not yet, anyway).

Wireless charging is tremendously convenient. In the wireless charging world, we don’t see charging as a distinct act. It’s not something we physically do. Instead, charging simply “happens” when we set our phones or tablets on our desk or nightstand. It’s automatic. It’s casual. It’s almost magical.

While I sit here writing this article, my tablet is beside me, resting on my Energizer Qi wireless charger. At work I have two wireless chargers, a Nexus 4 orb and Panasonic charge pad on which I charge my Nexus 7 and Nexus 5. I’ve even got a portable battery with Qi built-in that I take with me in my car, or anywhere else that I may need some extra juice – and I don’t have to worry about wires! When my son upgraded his phone from a Galaxy Nexus to a Nexus 4, he was thrilled to learn that he could charge wirelessly with his newly acquired PowerBot.

ZENS Qi Portable BatteryMy wife, however, hates wireless charging – with a passion! Why? It doesn’t work reliably for her. She’s tough on her phones, and has turned to increasingly beefier cases to protect them. These cases have gotten in the way of charging, leaving her with a dead phone on many mornings, when she needs it the most.

I’ve felt her pain. One of the chargers I used in the beginning was made by Nokia. It worked very well, as long as you positioned your phone just right, which I often did not. The others, however, have all worked better, but it’s still a challenge to get my tablet to sit just right on any of the smaller chargers.

Don’t get me wrong, none of these are enough to get me to switch back. However, they’re more than enough reason for a new adopter to shy away from the technology. Luckily, that’s about to change. The current Qi standards support charging over distances of around 7mm. That may sound like a lot, but when you add in the case of the phone, the case of the charger, and any “grippy” material to help the two stay in alignment, it’s not much at all. Throw a protective case into the mix, or a slight misalignment between the charger and the phone and, well, I think you know what happens then.

qicesThe update to the Qi standard should fix those concerns by upping the distance to a whopping 45mm! That not only offers a lot of wiggle room, it also allows for things like cases, containers, built-in installations, and more. This does require a new revision to the specification, but it’s backwards compatible with devices that currently support Qi charging, though the distance is limited to 30mm in these scenarios.

Will better distance in the new Qi standard win over the wireless charging nay-sayers? Not entirely. Those who have tried in the past, and have had negative experiences, are probably so soured to the concept that we’ll never win them over. Hopefully, as new users adopt the tech (and fall in love with it), especially with products like the forthcoming Moto 360 smartwatch, the success stories will outweigh the horror stories, and the masses will start to come around.

Until then, I’m still very pleased with Qi, and will make sure the devices I buy include wireless charging (or the ability to add it) before I pull out my wallet.

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.