Glossary

Wireless charging

What is wireless charging?

Cables are steadily becoming part of the past, even when it comes to recharging your gadgets. Devices that offer wireless charging can be recharged by simply being placed on top of a compatible charging pad.

Although there are different kinds of wireless charging technology, consumer electronics typically work via electromagnetic induction. Inductive charging relies on induction coils: the base's coil generates an electromagnetic field, which is then converted into electricity by the receiving device's coil. Based upon discoveries by electrical engineer Nikola Tesla in the late 19th century, this technology is undergoing constant development. Still, it is by no means new: just think of electric toothbrushes, which have been sold since the 1990s.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and wireless charging bases are even being built into furniture. When taking the wireless charging route, keep in mind that it may be slower than cable charging for devices with fast charging technology – that is, unless you own a brand-approved charging pad. Additionally, since a growing number of spaces such as airports and coffee shops are making wireless charging spots available for the public, you may end up stuck with slower charging at some point; considering the convenience, this is a tradeoff that most consumers are willing to take.

Besides the potential issue with charging speed, another downside of wireless charging is that it doesn't work through metal, which turns more fragile materials such as glass or plastic into the only choices for consumer electronics manufacturers. Regardless of drawbacks, the convenience of wireless charging is making its way into a growing number of devices, including remote controls and other peripherals.

The first smartphone with wireless charging support hit the mobile market in 2009: the Palm Pre. Major manufacturers such as Nokia, Google, and Samsung have added the technology to plenty of models over the following years, with Samsung's Galaxy S line being compatible with inductive charging since 2015's S6. With Apple's addition of wireless charging to its models since the iPhone 8 (2017), the technology has been gaining even more traction among consumers.

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