Every emerging technology is subject to skepticism and scrutiny from industry analysts and everyday users alike. And that’s certainly been the case with wireless charging. As engineers and product developers, it’s crucial to listen to these concerns and absorb these critiques with the aim of advancing the technology’s performance, making each new iteration better than the previous one.
In this series, we’ll examine some hot topics in the wireless charging industry, debunk a myth or two, and address important ways in which the technology is moving forward. First off, we’ll dive into power transfer capability.
When the Qi standard emerged as the defacto method of wireless phone charging, wireless chargers operated at 5W, and manufacturers started rolling out flagship Qi-certified phones that were equipped to receive power at those levels. A new, popular feature was born, but wired charging was being delivered as high as 12W, and users wanted more charging speed.
In an effort to improve power transfer (and resulting charging times) Apple and Samsung soon developed proprietary extensions that pushed wireless power levels to 7.5W and 8W, respectively. This narrowed the speed gap between the two charging methods.
In 2018, the Wireless Power Consortium, which governs the Qi standard, standardized the Extended Power Profile (EPP) which specifies wireless charging power levels of 15W. (Fans of NuCurrent will recall that we leveraged EPP to produce the fastest wireless phone charger with the largest charging volume in the PopPower Home Charger).
Above: PopPosckets PopPower Home wireless charger, powered by NuCurrent’s 15W MP-A17 specification
Of course, this is a race that continues to unfold. Charging speeds have continued to climb. For example, Apple now offers 18W wired charging, which is a slight improvement over Qi’s 15W EPP capabilities. Meanwhile, companies like Oppo and Huawei are further intensifying the competition with their new AirVOOC 40W and SuperCharge 40W wireless charging systems. While it’s important to note that these wireless charging solutions are proprietary (ie. not part of the Qi standard), they represent great advancements in the capabilities of wireless charging. These phones – which exist today – charge faster wirelessly than many of their competitors’ phones charge using cables!
Conclusion: In a very short time, wireless charging speeds have narrowed the gap – and in some cases surpassed – their wired counterparts. The 40W wireless charging phones are not yet part of a global standard, but it’s likely those power levels will be part of a future standard. Speed is no longer an issue, and when you consider the added convenience users experience with wireless charging, you have a popular feature that is here to stay.