How does wireless charging work?

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By Dan Plummer 24 Nov 2017

Wireless charging is coming to more and more phones, and with Apple now onboard, we’re going to see more devices on the market very soon. In this guide – we’ll outline how it works and how to use it with your kit.

How does it work?

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Wireless charging works by something called ‘magnetic induction’, where an electric field is generated by coils of wire. There is a coil inside the charging mat, and one inside your phone, and when you bring them close enough together, an induction field gets created, and this starts charging your phone.

There are a few different types of wireless charging – though most phone manufacturers have decided to use the ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’) standard. This means that charging mats from different manufacturers can be used to charge any phone that uses Qi charging.

Pros and cons

The best thing about wireless charging is the convenience – you simply put your phone down on the charging mat, and it starts charging. No fiddling with plugs, no snagged or broken cables, and no broken charging ports.

This also makes them somewhat safer too – without charging cables hanging around, there less chance for people to trip, or for devices to go flying off a table. (You’ll still need a cable plugged into your charging mat, but as it’s permanent it can be tucked away). Also, because there doesn’t need to be any exposed connectors, the charging mats and phones can be made waterproof.

There are some drawbacks to wireless charging – the biggest being that it is quite a bit slower than what you’d get from plugging in a cable. There’s no option of fast charging either, so you can’t quickly top-up on the fly. Charging mats can also be a bit fussy about how you place the phone on them too – unless you get it just in the right place, your phone won’t charge.

Apple’s guidelines say that even the vibration of an incoming text could move the phone out of position, so you might need to turn off vibration when you use one. You also need to be careful with phone cases too, as some thicker cases can slow down or even stop the phone from charging.

The best times to use wireless charging are when your phone can be kept in the same position for a longer time. For example, an ideal place would be on your bedside table, so you can simply drop the phone on the charging mat when you go to bed, and it’ll be fully charged when you wake up.

You could also keep one on your desk, so that everytime you put your phone down it gets a bit more charge. A few fast food chains and coffee shops have also started offering wireless charging too, so you can add a bit of charge while eating or drinking.

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