What is wireless charging. How does it work and should I use it

Written By O. Love

Wireless charging has become quite common these days. From coffee shop tables to car dashboards and even mouse pads, you’ll find chargers just about everywhere.

And if you have a compatible device, all you have to do is place it in the marked spot and it will magically start charging. I started using it a long time ago, and for me, when choosing a new phone, a prerequisite is that it has wireless charging.

True, as practice shows, despite its popularization and distribution, many are still not familiar with this technology. Now let’s try to talk about it in more detail.

wireless charging

Wireless charging is convenient. But what is it and is it worth it to use?

How wireless charging works

As convenient as it is, not all wireless chargers are created equal. And while it’s no doubt tempting to get rid of wires for good, there are some caveats associated with this technology.

Wireless charging is based on the rather simple principle of electromagnetic induction. In a nutshell, this is the passage of alternating current through a copper coil, which creates a magnetic field in its immediate vicinity.

If you place another coil within range of the field, the receiving coil will “produce” current. In the context of wireless charging, the primary coil is inside the charger and is powered by the outlet. The secondary coil is inside your smartphone and receives the induced current completely wirelessly.

That is why devices with wireless charging are called wireless, although formally there are still wires (from the outlet to the charging station). There is one important limitation here – wireless charging only works through glass or plastic.

The aluminum housing shields the transmission and wireless charging is not possible. The exception is the Google Pixel 5, but there the creators went for a trick.

They cut a hole in the back wall into which they inserted a coil, and applied a polymer to it. So it seems that the wall is completely aluminum, but this is a false feeling.

wireless charging

There are also such universal ways to charge the battery.

Are all wireless chargers the same?

Gadgets and chargers for them must communicate with each other to determine the charging speed and other parameters. In the distant past, there were several competing standards for wireless charging.

However, today the Qi standard (read “chi”), developed by the Wireless Power Consortium , has become dominant . Most wireless chargers support the Qi standard, with a few exceptions, which we’ll discuss below.

A common standard is advantageous because the buyer does not have to worry about compatibility. It is enough that, in principle, there is support for wireless charging. So it turns out to get rid of specific brands. It’s like USB in the world of charging – a single standard.

USB cords

Just as USB became the standard, so is QI.

Charging QI

Qi does everything to a certain standard, which includes recommendations for numerous aspects of the charging process, such as charging zone, temperature limits, and object detection .

The latter is especially important because if you accidentally leave metal objects, such as coins, in the field area, they can heat up quickly. The standard helps prevent this by making the accessory safer. Chargers will only generate a field when a Qi compatible gadget is detected .

However, some manufacturers offer their own wireless charging standards to go beyond Qi’s power limit. OnePlus, for example, offers Warp Charge 50 wireless.

It fully restores the OnePlus 9 Pro’s battery in less than 40 minutes. Oppo’s AirVooc speeds this up even further by offering 65W.

One thing these implementations have in common is that they require the use of a dedicated wireless charger. However, they are also compatible with conventional Qi-charging, but the speed will be lower.

Why MagSafe charging is different from the rest

While Apple’s MagSafe fast wireless charging solution may seem like a proprietary product, it really isn’t. The MagSafe charging puck simply contains a ring of magnets surrounding a normal Qi coil.

All it does is make it easier to align coils for faster charging speeds. As a result, the charging power is maximum for the standard – 15 W.

Magsafe wireless charging

Charging MagSafe is magnetized to the back wall for more precise positioning.

But Apple also has a really proprietary charger. It is used for Apple Watch. And AirPods can be charged from regular Qi, just like the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

That is, as you can see, the size of the case and the reduction in the size of the coil is not something that will interfere with the use of wireless charging. Many believe that the Apple Watch may be using a software restriction on the use of chargers.

In terms of convenience, wireless chargers almost always come out on top. However, it is often the other way around when you look at parameters such as speed, efficiency, and heat dissipation.

The fastest way to charge your phone

We have already said that the Qi standard allows a maximum of 15 watts. However, many smartphone manufacturers have moved to 33W, 65W and even 160W for wired charging. This means that wireless charging is much less suitable for quickly replenishing the battery.

In terms of efficiency, studies have shown that wireless charging consumes about 50% more power from a wall outlet compared to connecting a phone with a wire.

You just have to take a more powerful and bulky power supply with you. And if you’re wondering where the energy goes, it’s just wasted as heat. And this is another serious problem that manufacturers have to face.

charger

Wired charging is a classic.

Excessive heat while charging is bad because it can shorten your phone’s battery life. For this, it is essential that smartphones and wireless chargers have built-in overheating protection mechanisms.

Many manufacturers like Samsung and OnePlus even add a cooling fan to their chargers. However, it can be quite noisy, so a wired solution might be preferable anyway.

In general, it is precisely because of these shortcomings that wireless charging has not yet found application in other industries, such as electric vehicles, where currents are significantly higher. When it finds, we will definitely tell about it in our recent posts.

Charging gadgets from the phone

Reverse wireless charging is a relatively new feature offered mostly on top flagship smartphones such as the Google Pixel and the Samsung Galaxy S series. turns into the primary coil.

Simply put, the phone uses its own battery power to create a magnetic field. Then other devices can be placed on the surface of the phone to start wireless charging in the usual way.

Reverse wireless charging lets you charge additional devices like headphones, watches, and even entire phones on the back of your smartphone.

reverse wireless charging

Wired charging will be faster than wireless.

Can I charge my phone from another phone

Keep in mind that the same disadvantages that we discussed above apply here as well. Reverse wireless charging is pretty inefficient, so you’re draining a lot of your smartphone’s battery to charge your watch or headphones. So, the method is more suitable in case of an emergency.

Therefore, many manufacturers offer to use this function when the smartphone is connected to the network. This effectively eliminates the need to carry around a separate charger for smaller devices.

Similarly, it is technically possible to charge another smartphone using reverse wireless charging, but the low efficiency and potential for overheating make it only useful in extreme cases.

Another caveat to consider is that reverse charging speeds are often quite limited – as low as 5W in some cases .

That’s all you need to know about wireless charging. Tell us in the comment session what you think about it and are you ready to use it?

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