Apple chose to use the Qi specification, which uses inductive charging technology, for its iPhone 8 and iPhone X lineup of smartphones. Samsung committed to the same specification for its flagship Galaxy smartphones; in all, about 90 smartphone models use Qi today, making it the industry’s most popular among three standards. In addition to desktop charging stations (typically in the form of small charging pads), the automotive marketplace has also adopted in-cabin wireless charging.
Nearly 80 car models, from Audi, Chevrolet and KIA to Hyundai, Nissan and BMW, offer in-cabin wireless charging based on the electromagnetic Qi charging specification.
There are more than 5,000 public Qi charging locations worldwide, according to the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the entity in charge of the Qi standard.
Major brands like McDonald’s, Marriott, Ibis and others have built Qi into their properties. Airports, such as London Heathrow, Philadelphia and others around the world, have Qi charging stations. And businesses like Facebook, Google, Deloitte, PwC and Cisco have built Qi into their corporate offices.
“Over the last few years, one of the major delays for [manufacturers] wanting to introduce wireless charging solutions, particularly in the automotive in-cabin market, is the wait to discover which standard Apple may choose for any wireless-charging-enabled iPhone,” said Vicky Yussuff, IHS lead analyst for wireless power. “Now that Apple has decided to use the Qi standard, transmitter shipments into the in-cabin market will likely surge.”
Along with third-party wireless charging manufacturers, Apple also plans to release its own AirPower wireless charging station designed to charge up to three Apple products at once, including the iPhone devices, Apple Watch and Apple AirPods through the charging case.
The number of devices enabled with wireless charging exceeded 200 million units a year for the first time in 2016, according to the latest IHS Markit forecast. Driven by shipments in mobile phones and wearables, that represented a 40% increase over 2015 levels as more consumers experience wireless charging for the first time.
The 2016 IHS Markit consumer survey showed that one in four people has now used wireless charging, and more than 98% of those would choose the feature again on their next phone. Both consumer demand for the feature and the volume of enabled devices are growing each year.
“Samsung’s success with implementing wireless charging over the last two years coupled with Apple’s iPhone announcement this week demonstrates that wireless charging technology is clearly achieving mainstream adoption in the mobile phone market, and the scope of its application is expected to quickly follow suit in other applications,” Yussuff stated in a recent industry report.
For several years, restaurants, coffee shops and airports have been piloting the use of wireless charging for customer convenience.
With wireless charging adoption becoming widespread, the impulse for many users will be to just plop their smartphones down on the charging pad where it will remain fully charged all day long.
Is it bad to fully charge your smartphone?
With greater ease of charging via wireless technology, the question becomes: Is it bad for your mobile device battery to be fully charged all the time?
Venkat Srinivasan, director of the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science (ACCESS), said that while you cannot overcharge a smartphone or tablet battery, as the electronics will not allow it, keeping it fully charged will hasten its degradation.
“Frankly, the higher you are in the [charge] state, as you creep up to 90%, 95% to 100% charge, the more degradation the battery will see,” he said.
As a lithium-ion battery charges and discharges, ions pass back and forth between a positive electrode (made of lithium-cobalt oxide or lithium iron phosphate) and a negative electrode (made of carbon graphite).