Apple preps iPhone 8 with wireless charging
29 August 2017 | 0
A simple upgrade that Android smartphone users have enjoyed for years may finally be coming to the iPhone: wireless charging.
The technology would allow iPhone owners to simply lay their devices on a charging pad – something that’s also been embedded in furniture and vehicles – to recharge. Wireless charging hardware possibly related to the next iPhone has been shown in a series of photographs published by Chinese blog site Weibo.
While add-on, external iPhone covers have allowed wireless charging for some time , if the photos and a leaked document are genuine, the ‘iPhone 8’ could contain the technology natively.
Apple is planning to hold a product launch event 12 September at which it’s expected to unveil its next iPhone and an updated Apple Watch. The iPhone has not yet been given a name, though most experts expect it to be called the iPhone 8.
The photographs show wireless charging receivers on an assembly line and a leaked document from Apple for its HomePod Firmware for iOS mentions inductive wireless charging and electric vehicle charging.
The bad news? Apple is not expected to enable the wireless charging capability on its new iPhone until sometime after it ships, meaning there will have to be some type of software upgrade to activate the function, according to a BGR report.
Additionally, if Apple chooses to go with a proprietary wireless charging technology, iPhone users will be pigeon-holed into buying a specific charging pad sometime after the iPhone 8’s launch.
Over the last decade, Apple has filed several patents on wireless charging.
In 2005, an Apple patent described technology for an iPod using zero-contact induction for not only charging but data transfer – most likely to manage device charging.
In a 2012 Apple patent filing, the company described a near-field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power supply “arranged to wirelessly provide power to any of a number of suitably configured devices”.
Apple’s patent description indicated a charging distance of about one meter, which could be projected out from a desktop computer such as an iMac to power peripheral devices such as a wireless mouse.
If the HomePod leak is any indication, however, the type of wireless charging Apple could roll out for the iPhone 8 would be more akin to the tightly coupled technology it used on the Apple Watch versus loosely coupled magnetic resonance charging that allows more freedom of placement on a charging surface.
As Apple has been researching wireless charging, competitors have charged ahead. Samsung, Apple’s chief smartphone rival, has been selling smartphones with native wireless charging for years.
According to IHS, 80% of consumers want wireless charging in public places, so enabling it in mobile devices is simply good business for mobile providers.
The problem is that even as the wireless charging industry has consolidated over the past several years, there are still competing standards, which means not all smartphones or tablets can use public charging stations.
If Apple adds another, it will further complicate an already small market.
Watch this space
Apple might have one more trick up its sleeve: an LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 that will bring phone independence once and for all.
According to a report by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, “at least some new Apple Watch models” this year will come equipped with LTE chips “planned for release by the end of the year.” That would allow users to receive notifications and phone calls without having an iPhone nearby, as well as download music and use third party apps.
In addition, Kuo also predicted that the cellular version of the Apple Watch Series 3 will only support LTE, not 3G connections.
Originally, Bloomberg reported that Intel will be supplying the LTE chips for the new watch, a continuation of Apple’s quest for separation from Qualcomm as its primary modem supplier. Apple began using Intel modems for some iPhone 7 models in an effort to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm. The two companies are engaged in a contentious court battle over patent infringement and royalties.
Bloomberg says that Apple is already engaged in talks with carriers in the US and Europe about plans to sell an LTE-enabled Apple Watch.
One of the biggest drawbacks to owning an Apple Watch is its heavy reliance on the iPhone. An LTE-enabled watch would go a long way toward turning Apple Watch from an accessory into a must-have gadget.
IDG News Service