How hard is it to charge a phone?

Surely it can’t be that difficult to make a one size fits all charger.  To have just one way of getting at the electricity lurking in the wall to replenish your mobile’s phone battery.

Imagine docking stations compatible with every device in restaurants, offices, hotels and planes – that’s a mobile experience unhindered by plugs and wires a truly mobile world.


This week Nokia announced that its new Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 handset will support wireless charging.

Wireless, or inductive charging is not new – it’s most commonly used in electric toothbrushes.  The docking station has a coil within the charger, which generates an electrical field around the device – when a suitable mobile phone is placed near the station, a coil within its battery resonates with the primary field.  It takes power from the magnetic field and converts and stores it back as electrical energy.

Nokia has made sure that its new chargers stand out from the crowd using bright reds, blues and yellows for this dullest of accessories.  The range includes funky charging plates, charging pillows and charging speakers.  The phones are compatible with the Qi standard, meaning that there may well be lots of public places to charge in future.  In fact, Nokia will be installing Qi charging pads in the Virgin Atlantic lounge in London’s Heathrow Airport, as well as at some Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf stores and hopes that other partnerships will join in too.


This is all very interesting but what will Apple do?  Others can produce better phones with better features but where Apple leads others follow –if it went wireless we could all recycle our cables.  The rumours are that Apple is revamping the charging port for the iPhone5, which is expected this autumn.  It’s believed that the new port looks similar to a micro USB, the standard supported by other phone manufacturers – although it is unlikely that Apple will support this standard, despite moves by the EU to get all phone companies to rally around one type of cable.  If Apple does change its charging adaptor it will render all current accessories (including docking stations) obsolete for the new phone.
In practice, there are downsides to inductive charging. You have to devote space to the charging pad 24/7, and if you want to wirelessly charge your device at more than one location then you’ll need to buy additional charging pads, which would be more expensive and bulkier than having a regular charger.


Nokia aren’t alone though, other handset manufacturers are following the trend.  Samsung will also be releasing an inductive battery for the Galaxy S3 later this autumn.  Watch this space… in the future we’ll be mobile and unshackled from the wall.

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