Apple may include wireless charging in the iPhone 8, but the technology will most likely come from its own designs, and not Energous. Instead of the near field technology Energous has been working on, Apple looks to be going with the same type of inductive charging it’s currently using with the Apple Watch.
Apple hasn’t said how the next iPhone will charge, but there’s enough evidence to show this may be the year the company finally gets on board with wireless smartphone charging. The company already has several wireless charging patents dating back to 2013, which Copperfield Research says is a strong indicator Apple wants to use its own inductive charging solution.
Inductive charging systems rely on some sort of plate devices sit on to juice up, which is how the Apple Watch works. Energous, in contrast, developed a near field system where devices charge when they’re in range of a charging point–no need for physical contact.
TMO’s Dave Hamilton got to see the Energous WattUp near field charging solution at CES earlier this year and he was impressed. In its current state, WattUp can charge low power consumption devices such as TV remote controls and the company has plans for higher power output versions, too.
The downside to near field charging is that it’s painfully inefficient compared to other charging systems, and the farther away you are from the charging source efficiency drops off even more. near field charging also raises questions about health safety, which is something Apple noted in a 2011 patent filing. The filing states, “Such schemes may pose hazards to objects or people that cross or intersect the beam when modest to high amounts of power are being transmitted.”
In other words, Apple doesn’t want to use a wireless charging system that could potentially cook its customers.
The Case for iPhone Inductive Charging
Copperfield Research noted reports saying Apple is returning to a glass back iPhone design fit with inductive charging. Using glass for the back of the iPhone lets the inductive charging field pass through and into the phone, where the metal back Apple uses today does not. If Apple were to use charging technology from Energous, the material used for the iPhone’s back would be irrelevant.
The idea that Apple will go with its own inductive charging solution instead of Energous technology makes sense, especially considering it hasn’t yet gained regulatory approval. Betting the next iPhone’s charging on a system that hasn’t been given the government’s green light is probably a bigger risk than Apple wants to take.
Apple already has a proven wireless charging system, and it has several patents to back it up. At this point, it looks like Apple will fall in line with the same type of wireless charging platform competitors like Samsung have already adopted.