iPhone, iPad Wireless Charging May Come By 2017 - InformationWeek

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1/29/2016
11:06 AM
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iPhone, iPad Wireless Charging May Come By 2017

Apple is reportedly working on smoothing out issues with technology that lets consumers power up iPhones and iPads sans wires.

iPhone 7 Rumors: 7 That Have People Talking
iPhone 7 Rumors: 7 That Have People Talking
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

The smartphone market is growing more competitive by the day, with consumers demanding the premium materials and features that upper-tier manufacturers like Apple have provided.

In an effort to stay ahead of its rivals -- and in the face of flagging iPhone and iPad sales, Apple is planning to introduce wireless charging on the two devices as early as 2017, according to a Bloomberg report.

The report, which quotes unnamed sources familiar with the plans, said Apple is working with partners both in the US and Asia to resolve some of the issues inherent in wireless charging technologies.

These issues include boosting the charging power of the device when the smartphone is farther away from the power source, and other technical limitations that prolong the time it takes to fully charge the phone.

The technology is not new. Apple currently offers wireless charging for its smartwatch, and smartphone rivals such as Samsung, Sony, and Google all offer handsets that boast wireless charging.

(Image: AleksandarNakic/iStockphoto)

(Image: AleksandarNakic/iStockphoto)

In March 2015, Samsung announced that its Galaxy 6 and S6 Edge smartphones would support wireless charging, while the Windows Phone 8-based Lumia 920 smartphone supported wireless charging almost three years ago.

Apple's hesitation may have something to do with the fragmented nature of wireless charging standards. There are three the mobile industry currently supports -- Qi, which is supported by the Wireless Charging Consortium (WPC); Rezence, which is backed by Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP); and Powermat, which is backed by the Power Matters Alliance (PMA).

While iPhone sales hit 74.8 million units during the most recent quarter, an all-time high for the company, Apple CEO Tim Cook recently said he believes sales of iPhone units will decline for the first time in the next quarter. iPad sales also fell from 21.4 million units in Q1 2015 to 16.1 million in Q1 2016.

The flagging sales mean Apple will have to push harder than ever to make the iPhone, which represents the bulk of its profits, and the iPad, which has struggled to keep sales momentum (as has the rest of the slowing tablet market), must-haves for consumers.

While the iPhone 7's launch date is not expected until the latter half of the year, rumors are already piling up about what high-tech features Apple will pack into the ever-slimmer handset -- many of which are already stirring controversy.

[Read iPhone 5se, iPad Air 3: More Details Emerge.]

The company's endless quest to make thinner and lighter products, for instance, may well be the death knell for the standard 3.5mm headphone jack found on pretty much every smartphone in existence.

In its place Apple will provide headphones that connect through the iPhone's Lightning charger. This, of course, means that either headphone manufacturers will have to adapt their products, or consumers will be forced to buy Apple-designed headphones.

In addition, the tech giant is reportedly collaborating with Beats Electronics, which Apple purchased for $3 billion in 2014, to develop completely wireless in-ear headphones that would come with a charger and be marketed as a premium accessory.

In other iPhone 7 rumor news, Apple is reportedly close to an agreement with rivals Samsung and LG to supply organic light emitting diode (OLED) screens for its next-generation smartphone.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2016 | 12:18:28 PM
Why so Late
It's strange that Apple waited so long in adding this obviously useful feature. The question is if they will use one of the active standards, or as is often the case with Apple, will they invent their own?
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2016 | 3:41:31 PM
Re: Why so Late
@Gary_EL,

My thoughts exactly. To add to your comment, I think Apple didn't provide the wireless charging in favor of assuring a robust design. They may have considered it in the past but probably couldn't have yet come up with a design that works.

It'll be interesting to see if Apple simply adopts a current provider of components to adopt wirless charging, or do there own way and do there own thing (which is likely what'll happen).

Guess we just need to wait and see
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2016 | 3:44:57 PM
Smartphone and Tablet sales
Just wanted to add my 2 cents around smarphone and tablet sales.

I think that the main reason why sales figures are dropping for the likes of Apple is not because of actual drop in sales but more that:

- One, people don't always buy the latest tablet, but mainly upgrade once every two or three years (or more). I myself have a 2013 Nexus 7, and have no plans on upgrading since it still very well provides what I need.

- Two, the market is crowded, and there are more and more competitors, to the pie is shrinking.

What does the community think?
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2016 | 3:48:50 PM
Re: Why so Late
Perhaps Apple's emphasis on slim and sleek weighed on their decision. They were willing to sacrifice form over function. I don't understand the company's emphasis on slim design - my problem with smartphones is that they take up too much length and width in my front pocket no matter how slim. But, of course, I'm not an Apple customer.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
1/29/2016 | 4:10:14 PM
Re: Why so Late
@Gary_EL,

I think the screen size is one of the deciding factors, the other is it being confortable to hold in your hands.
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2016 | 11:53:01 AM
Re: Why so Late
 

"Perhaps Apple's emphasis on slim and sleek weighed on their decision. They were willing to sacrifice form over function"

@Gary_EL: I don't think the decision to not have wireless charging had anything to do with the width of the phone increasing. I have seen the Lumia phones with wireless charging capabilities and they were pretty slim. There amy be other reasons behind this decision. Perhaps not to add additional cost.

 
tzubair
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tzubair,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2016 | 12:04:56 PM
Usefulness
I have been using Wireless Charging on my Lumia phone for a while now but I find to be of very little use. While it's wireless as the name says, you have to place the phone on a charging plate to charge it. This means you can't life the phone up to use it while it's on charge. You must use it while it's on the plate. With a wired charger, this is very easy business. The only ease is that you don't have to plug the charger inside the phone and just need to place the phone on the plate.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:34:53 AM
Re: Why so Late
I wonder why Apple took so long unless they wanted to try something different. I have a feeling they will come up with their own standards and users will have to adopt accordingly. 
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:42:45 AM
Re: Why so Late
Will Apple come up with a wireless charger that don't require you to keep the phone on a charging pad? We have seen power sent over RF waves to charge the phone. 

https://youtu.be/wM8XkUeFcjc
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2016 | 10:48:56 AM
Re: Why so Late
@mejiac – Is Apple waiting to perfect wireless charging? Most wireless chargers have a low efficiency rate compared to the ordinary USB charging. I wonder if Apple is trying to overcome this hurdle to have fast efficient wireless charging on their devices.  
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