It is dark, bedtime, and you are fumbling around for the end to your phone charger.
Phone batteries barely last the day, and you need a full charge for tomorrow, right?
Wouldn’t it be much easier if you could simply place your phone on a wireless charging station? Then you will rest your weary head, knowing that your phone will be fully charged for another day!
But as you lay down to sleep, you begin to wonder…how does wireless charging work?
In this post, I am going to answer that for you. I’m also going to explain some benefits, some drawbacks, and some reasons why you might not want to use wireless charging at all!
Wireless Charging – What Is It?
Simply put, it is (usually) a circle shaped charging station which you place your smartphone on. Magic happens…and your phone is charged.
Although wireless charging has the word ‘wireless’, it is not completely wireless.
There is a cable which needs to be plugged into the charging port. The ‘wireless’ part is the connection between your smartphone and the charging station.
You can buy wireless charging stations for your home, or for your car. Having a wireless charging point for your car brings the maximum benefits, especially if you already have a cradle to hold it whilst you are driving.*
*Do not use your phone whilst you are driving! It is dangerous and likely to contravene your local laws.
If you are like me, then you will be streaming music and using your phone to navigate you do your destination. Both of those tasks are going to drain your battery, so charging your phone whilst you drive is vital.
Wireless can cause some hazards to your driving, especially if you have not installed a cradle. Your cable may get in the way and may cause you to be distracted while you frantically move it out of the way to find the air con button! If you have cables strewn all over the dash of your car (as I have seen with some folks in the past), then it may lead to a traffic accident.
How Does Wireless Charging Work?
As far as you are concerned, you put your smartphone of the charger, and it charges, right?
Well…yes it is that simple for the consumer, but how does wireless charging actually work? How does the charge get from the power socket to your phone?
Let’s begin with the obvious: The power leaves the socket, enters the power adapter, and travels up the cable to the wireless charging station. What happens next?
Wireless charging uses Inductive Charging.
Induction charging uses electromagnetic fields to transfer the energy between 2 separate devices.
As the power enters the station, it transfers the alternating (AC) current over to the transmitter coil.
The charging station (and now the Samsung S10) has a transmitting coil, which is used to generate high voltage from a direct current.
The transmitting coil is inside the station and the receiving coil is installed in the mobile device you are charging.
As the power enters the transmitter coil, it generates an oscillating magnetic field. As long as your wireless charging station is plugged in, this will always be present. When your phone enters the working zone of the field, it induces a direct current to the receiver coil and ramps up the power. As soon as this connection is induced, the transfer of power begins, and your smartphone battery takes the charge.
When you lift your smartphone away from the charging station, the receiver coil is no longer within the working range of the transmitter coil and the circuit is broken. Your phone is no longer charging.
What Do I Need To Know About Wireless Charging?
Charging wirelessly uses more electricity
Yes – but not by much.
The reason why wireless charges use more electricity is due to the constant current which needs to be in place to detect that a receiver coil has been placed on the charging station. When a receiver coil has been detected, the charger will increase the output to allow the charge to be passed through.
Wireless charging is safe
“The electromagnetic field created by a wireless charger is insignificantly little, no more than a home or office WiFi network”
Most smartphones work to the Qi standard (pronounced chee), which allows wireless charging over a distance of up to 1.6 inches (4cm). Even within that distance, the current is not strong enough to post a threat to you.
Is my phone going to get hot?
Yes – there is likely to be some heat generated, especially where there is a connection between your smartphone and the charging station.
Usually, this is nothing to worry about, although if you are concerned then I suggest you take it back to the shop to get the phone checked out for any faults.
Does it work at the same speed as cable charging?
No. In fact, an experiment (using a Galaxy S6) concluded that wireless charging was 67% less efficient than charging with a cable plugged into the phone.
- Cable charging: 108 minutes
- Wireless Charging: 181 minutes
The numbers are not important if you are leaving your phone to charge overnight however, if you are in a rush to charge your phone then you should always have it plugged in.
Wireless Charging – Other Considerations
A wireless charging station is much more expensive than a cable.
It is much easier to travel with a cable than it is with a wireless charging station.
Ease Of Use
Although it is not much of a challenge to plug a phone in, it is somewhat easier to leave a wireless charging station plugged in. All you need to do is place your phone on top of it!
Will My Phone Work With A Wireless Charging Station?
There are many phones available right now, and although wireless charging is quickly establishing itself, some phones do not support it.
It is best to check with the manufacturer to see if your smartphone is compatible.
In this post, I have looked at how wireless charging works, what the benefits are, and what the negatives are.
Personally, I am using wireless charging for an overnight charge. I always have a fast charge cable on me for those moments where I need charge quickly. In these times where applications are improving at a much faster pace than the batteries capabilities, it is important to not be left with very little, or no charge to your phone.
Many outlets and restaurants have taken advantage of wireless charging technology. Wireless charging is available in many shops and restaurants. In fact, a survey of 2000 restaurant visitors said they would be encouraged to stay longer in an establishment if they offered phone charging capabilities! The challenge is that these establishments would have to cater for iPhones, USB, and USB-C supported devices…
Would it be easier if they had wireless charging stations?