Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

iPhone 8 and Qi Inductive Charging

Ben Bajarin:

There is a lot to like about the promise of wireless charging. That said, I’ve used wireless charging solutions from many smartphone manufacturers through the years, and I’ve never had a flawless experience with any of them. Unfortunately, the same is true with Apple’s latest offering with iPhone 8/8 Plus. In the few weeks, I’ve been using an iPhone 8 and the Mophie wireless charging pad I have woken up the next day to an iPhone that did not charge and has less than 10% battery at least several times a week. This last week alone it happened three times. For a myriad of reasons, from charging coils, to pad design, etc., when using this pad the iPhone and Mophie pad have to be aligned just right, or it won’t charge. You can’t just drop it down anywhere on the pad but instead need to align it just right. Where this impacts me, is throughout the night my phone may get a notification buzz and as a result will move off the sweet spot and then stop charging.

Via Michael Tsai who received a tip from Phil Wu that Panasonic’s QE-TM101 charger — which, as far as I can figure out, was never officially sold outside of Japan — includes moving charging coils that automatically align to your phone. There are also Qi charging pads that have multiple coils to reduce the likelihood of a phone slipping out of range.

Even so, this shows why Qi isn’t a real wireless charging standard. True wireless charging shouldn’t care that your phone is within a couple of centimetres of a precise area. True wireless charging wouldn’t care which way up your phone is placed, either — maybe I’m just a little bitter about that because my sleep tracking app of choice requires my iPhone to be placed screen side down on my nightstand.

There may be some relief coming: Apple says that they’re going to release a software update that will enable faster charging speeds, and the coming AirPower charger will have support for multiple devices, which indicates to me that you won’t have to be quite so precise in placing any particular device.

But I still don’t see Qi as anything more than an obvious stepping stone between a cable plugged directly into your phone, and some kind of power emitter placed in the general vicinity of your phone. Until that latter technology arrives, I think the intermediate solutions will feel half-baked and inadequate.