Apr 05 AT 5:37 PM Russell Holly 25 Comments

Will QI chargers be the future of Android?

I’ve been fascinated by the idea of “wireless power” for awhile now. Shortly after the G1 was released, I attended a TED talk where Eric Giler walked the Android phone across the stage and demonstrated it charging without being plugged into anything. Fast forward to today, and while the WiTricity guys still aren’t ready, other types of “wireless power” has hit the market, ready to remove the need to use a power cord. As Android handset manufacturers begin to include these technologies into their handsets, will we begin to see the death of the power cord?

The Wireless Power Consortium, developers of the Qi Inductive Charging System, have been very busy putting their systems in as many places as possible. Working with Energizer to create low cost charging plates that works with all Qi systems, and partnering with companies like LG, HTC, and now Motorola to get their tech added to the next generation of handsets. If you’ll recall, we recently did a piece on Qi systems found in the LG Optimus 2x. We also know that HTC is planing to release a Qi battery cover for the Thunderbolt, and the leaked shots of the Pyramid have the same copper colored tabs underneath the battery cover. Inductive chargers aren’t new, or even unique, but the interoperability offered by Qi-friendly companies seem to have made it the more popular option.

It’s entirely possible that your next Android phone will be Qi enabled. Energizer’s inductive plates support multiple devices, and a single device plate is on the way to handle any kind of user. Right now, no phone comes with everything you need out of the box to enjoy these induction systems, and the costs varies based on manufacturer. The real question here is whether or not the cost and the convenience cancel each other out. After all, unlike Eric Giler’s WiTricity demonstration, the phone must still be set on the plate in order to charge, offering a very similar limitation to the power cord, even if you have multiple plates throughout the house. So, will Qi “Change the game”? Not just yet, in my opinion, maybe if and when it’s offered with the phone.

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  • http://Website Ryan

    I agree Russell I think OEMs should start to bundle QI receivers with the devices. That’s the only way I see it really see it catching on with consumers, allowing them to how simple it works.

  • http://Website Se7en2

    My only concern is that it makes it difficult to use the phone while it’s charging, since it has to lay flat to charge. If they’re able to get it to charge while it’s within a certain range, then I’ll be interested.

    • http://Website Eric

      I was thinking something similiar. This actually offers less freedom than a cable in some cases. Car charging would be difficult, no calls while charging, etc. I bought a 15ft usb cable and I can walk around my office while my phone is plugged in. This won’t be able to imitate that.

      That said, a charging surface the size of your desk would be amazing.

      • tanders04

        Don’t you guys have speaker phone?

      • http://Website Zer0-9

        Not only speaker phone, but bluetooth. Also it is highly recommended to NOT use the phone while charging as a safety issue.

  • http://Website Dneff

    Maybe the should try to make away for it to charge through wifi or something like that. That would be nice if someone had the technology to do it. Cause I think a charging station isn’t to great because atleast wit a power card you can move around with you phone.

  • http://Website adam j

    The solar panel idea on the screen seems much more practical, google it up, it was at CTIA 11

    • tanders04

      Why? Most people spend far more time indoors than out.

      I’ve got a solar charger that I slap on my backpack so that it is charging while I walk around. Its rated at 16 hours for a full charge. As opposed to when I’m at home and I drop the phone on my nightstand (I built an inductive charger into it) and its a full charge in under an hour or so.

  • http://Website Lets be real.

    Let’s be real… Until Apple embraces a technology like this with the iPhone, we won’t be seeing it any time soon. HTC seems too slow to take the initiative to implement and promote new technologies like this, unless it’s in response to something a competitor already did.

    I love Android, but manufacturers have to step it up in bringing new technologies to the phone market. The new phones that have come out recently are starting to all look the same under a different name.

    I can’t wait for the iPhone 5 to come out. I won’t be getting it, but I’m sure it’ll have new stuff to inspire Android manufacturers who don’t bring anything new to the game.

    Anyway, I really do hope this Qi thing takes off :-)

    • http://Website Mitchell

      I somewhat b disagree. HTC has wimax, 8mp camera with 720p recording, and the kickstand on the EVO 4G, which were first among direct competitors. Now they have 3D on the EVO 3D, which is in-line with competitors. Also they have Sense which is the best Android overlay out there that attracts many average consumers to HTC and Android (though I hate it – MIUI FTW!!!). So I think HTC has done a good job of being different.

      P.S. That Flyer looks awesome for note-taking, and there is nothing else like it.

      • http://Website LetsBeReal

        An 8MP camera that takes pictures no better than many 5MP cameras is revolutionary to you? A kickstand is revolutionary to you? And the 3D camera on the Evo3D is just an unnecessary gimmick, just as the front-facing-camera (that people only started buying into after Apple put it in their iPhone 4) is. I do think it’s cool on my MT4G, but it’s pretty useless.

        I do agree that scribe technology on the HTC Flyer looks cool, but again.. It’s not really something new.

        I’m just acknowledging the facts — Apple inspires innovation, so I really do hope that iPhone 5 had some new cool stuff cuz you can bet well see whatever it comes out with on Android handsets not long after.

    • http://Website Pip 73

      kind of agree. The next iPhone is going to be crucial. I hope it is a good one for the competition and health of the market.

  • http://Website bemymonkey

    I hope these will come standard soon – just having one on my nightstand would be perfect – no more fumbling with the USB cable when the eyes are already drooping… :)

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  • pechano

    So I guess we have just pretty much given up on moderating the comments at this point? Four first comments and the last on before me should just be removed. They are totally irrelevant and the product of trolls or bots. I am seriously getting tired of the lack of moderation response to shit like this.
    Don’t allow people to post without logging in.

    On topic though:

    I would love to have a pad like that laying on my desktop for charging my devices. If someone calls me while charging, it can’t be that hard to just pick up the phone and postpone charging. If that phonecall turns into an hour long discussion, then I get the point about no charge and talk. Then I guess it is fortunate that we have agreed to use microUSB as the universal powerplug for these small devices, since it would be easy to include a few USB ports or even an extendable microUSB cord. That would be perfect I think.

    Oh, and Apple wont use this, at least not yet. They will say it’s stupid and that noone would ever need a silly device like that. Then in a few years they will release the iTable, complete with wireless charging and stuff, and say that they have revolutionized the industry by being the first in the world to provide wireless charging of small electronics devices.

    People will offcourse eat this raw and earn Lord Jobs another 100 billion. It will earn me a chance to THROW UP.

    • http://Website poop

      Ha. That’s all so true…
      jobs -”multitasking is pointless”

      One year later

      Jobs- “our iPhone can now multitasking. Look how innovative we are!”

      public-”did you see that new iPhone can multitask!?!?!?!?”

      Face palm..

  • http://Website plainbrad

    Doesn’t NFC and inductive chargers cancel each another out? Can both be in the same phone? I think NFC will be the wave of the future (both Apple and Google will make it so) and that probably means inductive charging will go away.

  • http://Website Brian

    Own an iPhone not Android but the issues are identical. A few observations on some of the posts here so far.

    Even if Qi is integrated there is nothing stopping one from using a normal USB powered cable to charge/operate our devices.

    Don’t worry about using it in your car. In the next few years one won’t be allowed to use a cell phone while driving. So having to pick up the phone to dial and then placing it back on the charger surface in the console won’t be a real problem. Unless one has a desire for moving violations.

    As far as a standard, sorry to say but there is already more than one standard. iPhone is proprietary, then you have micro USB and mini USB and the occasional proprietary connector that looks like a USB connector. The only standard seems to be the a plug that connects to the computer/charter.

    Multi-tasking is simply a function of processing power and memory. If you don’t have enough power and space then it doesn’t matter if the hardware can do the exception handling, the experience will suck. These days quite a few devices will multi-thread well and some might actually multi-task too. :)