Despite the fact that almost everything about the iPhone experience is wireless these days—from audio streaming using Bluetooth to automatically syncing your phone with your computer—charging the iPhone battery is still a process that is stubbornly stuck in the world of cables.
Or is it? While most iPhone owners still charge their device by plugging it in, wireless charging technology is slowly but surely growing in popularity, and the future of wireless charging is looking pretty exciting. Read on for a guide to what you need to know about the “last frontier” of wireless technology for your iPhone.
What is wireless charging?
Wireless charging is as simple as its name suggests: it’s a way to charge the batteries in your iPhone and similar devices without directly plugging them into a power source. To charge an iPhone in the typical way, you need a special power cable that you connect either to an electrical outlet or to your computer. It’s not difficult—it’s just like plugging in any other electronic device or appliance—but it’s not as convenient as it could be, especially given that it’s not uncommon for charging cables to break or to fit poorly. Wireless charging, on the other hand, allows you to ditch the cables entirely.
What do you need for wireless charging?
However, ditching the cables doesn’t mean you don’t need any accessories at all—at least, not yet. While it’s a distinct possibility that the future of wireless charging will involve electricity being magically beamed to your iPhone (see below), at the moment you’ll need to use one of many available wireless charging products, most of which feature two main components: a charging mat and an iPhone case.
With this form of wireless charging, it’s the charging mat, a platform slightly larger than your iPhone, that is plugged into a power source or your computer. The electricity still has to come from somewhere—so yes, technically this does mean that at least one wire is still involved in wireless charging. On the charging mat sits the case, which contains special circuitry that draws power from the charging mat and transmits it to your battery. To charge your iPhone, all you need to do is slip it inside the case, and rest the case on the charging mat.
What kinds of wireless charging products are available now?
Current wireless charging options for the iPhone include:
Apple AirPower—Apple’s own charging mat is set to go on the market in 2018. Early reviews are quite impressive: the AirPower can reportedly deliver a 50% charge in just half an hour, and it also has the capacity to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods all at the same time.
mophie juice pack wireless—mophie is making a foray into wireless charging after having provided high-quality iPhone accessories like extended battery life cases for years. The battery that comes with the juice pack wireless has up to a 50% greater capacity than an iPhone battery, so you’ll have extra power stored in the case even after a full recharge of your iPhone.
iQi Mobile for iPhone—If you already have an iPhone case you love, there’s no need to replace it: the iQi is just a super-thin, credit-card-sized device that lies flat against the back side of your iPhone and plugs into the Lightning port. With the exception of some harder or more rugged cases, the iQi is so thin that it can fit easily in most cases.
Pond Wireless Charging—If style is important to you, you’ll want to check out the Stream case from Pond, which comes in a striking variety of colors and finishes, including leather and microsuede.
What’s so great about wireless charging?
The benefits of wireless charging—like not having to keep track of or buy replacement charging cables, or the ability to charge your phone anywhere there’s a charging station –might seem trivial and not like a significant improvement on current cable-based charging. However, they are nevertheless important because they enable greater freedom and more flexibility. There’s a reason why wireless connectivity for a whole range of devices has become so popular; wireless charging is simply the next step along this path. Plus, in the next few years, we can likely expect some truly amazing wireless charging technology to hit the scene.
What’s next for wireless charging?
Even today, some iPhone models (the iPhone 8 series and iPhone X) can already support wireless charging without a case. All you need to do is place the phone directly on a compatible charging mat and power will be transmitted to the battery. Beyond this, we can likely expect to see long-range wireless charging in the future. This means that you won’t even need a charging base to charge your phone—electricity will simply be beamed to your iPhone battery as soon as it’s within range of a charging device. While there are probably still a few years before this technology is ready for mass adoption, it could dramatically change the way we charge all kinds of battery-powered devices.