With The Next iPhone Will Apple Break Wireless Charging Standards Again?
Wireless charging is great. The Wireless Charging Consortium ensures interoperability between devices running the Qi inductive charging standard. Meaning that devices with built in Qi charging can share bases irrespective of who made what.
Up to a point. And that point is the Apple Watch. Apple implemented the Qi standard in the Watch and charging station, however it also embedded software controls to prevent the Watch working with charging base stations that haven't been through the MFI certification program.
For Apple Watch owners that's unlikely to prove to be a problem - the Watch is generally going to live on your wrist and not be deposited on handy chargers located around the environment. Although a colleague of mine recently traveled to Auckland for a working week without his charger and endured four and a half days of wearing a non-functional and not hugely attractive lump on his wrist.
iPhone users, on the other hand, would be exactly the sort of users who would benefit from being able to drop their phones onto a wireless charging surface to allay the very real problems with battery longevity that plagues the device in all but the larger Plus versions.
Up until the last few days it seemed that this year Apple would be launching one or more iPhones with long range wireless charging. That has become less likely with leaks suggesting Qi inductive charging being the actual embedded wireless charging solution. Apple's move to join the Wireless Power Consortium very much strengthens the case for those leaks being real.
The important question is how will Apple implement wireless charging? Is it really going to give away the keys to billions of dollars of revenue to third party OEMs who can knock out a Qi charger for around $10? It seems awfully unlikely.
Rather more likely is that Apple will implement the same controls that it did with the Watch, meaning that Apple's own wireless base station will be the only available charger. Coupled with MFI it means that iPhone users will pay more for their wireless fix and the opportunity for ubiquity which would make inductive charging a global game changer will be missed.