Tuesday, October 3, 2017

iPhone 8, Qi Wireless Charging, and the Challenge of Open

Ben Bajarin:

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.


While many third parties disliked Apple’s MFI accessory program, the guidelines Apple had in place for third parties to create accessories for their products led to consistent experiences with third-party products and Apple products. At the moment, we don’t have the same situation with Qi Wireless charging. While Apple’s embracing of the Qi standard means they will certainly get involved and help drive the standard and the technology forward, for now, Apple runs the risk of having third-party solutions not meet their standards of an accessory that will work with iPhones.

Previously: iPhone 8 Charging Speed.

Update (2017-10-04): Phil Wu:

The Panasonic Qi charging pad has coils that move to where your phone is (Panasonic QE-TM101-K).

3 Comments RSS · Twitter

Chris Snazell

The Android & Windows Phone devices that I've owned and charged via Qi never had this problem, so I'm not particularly convinced by the argument that there's a problem with Qi or Mophie's pad that requires fixing via the draconian MFI program.

Ultimately the underlying physics requires the electric field of the charging pad has to be mostly aligned with the receiving coils in the device so the phone moving around on the pad inevitably introduces some risk of misalignment. Either the charging pad's not on a genuinely flat surface and the vibrations are breaking the friction between the phone and the pad, or the iPhone's vibration motor is too energetic for the new glass body.

Ultimately I stopped using Qi because it's only 80% efficient and using 5 "charges" of electricity to charge a device 4 times seems quite wasteful compared with the very minimal effort associated with plugging a phone in every couple of days. With most phones outside of the Apple ecosystem now using Qualcomm's Quick Charge technology it only takes 30 minutes to bring a phone to 80% charge so there's even less reason to have a phone lying around on a pad for hours at a time.

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