Saturday 1 October 2016

Apple developing iPhone with over-the-air wireless charging

Rhiannon Williams

Published 29/01/2016 | 13:53

Early concept art for iPhone 6
Early concept art for iPhone 6

Apple is working on technology that could charge iPhones wirelessly over a distance, which could be introduced as early as next year.

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he Californian company is reported to be developing a form of wireless charging which frees the iPhone from needing to be placed on a charging mat, the most commonly used format currently, according to Bloomberg. It could be introduced in a phone released in 2017, rather than the iPhone 7 expected later this year.

The Apple Watch and several rival smartphones, including Samsung's Galaxy S6 flagship, use a form of wireless charging that can power a device by resting them on pads instead of being physically plugged into a cable - a process known as inductive or QI charging.

However, technology that allows power to be transferred over the air has proved elusive. Engineers are currently trying to overcome difficulties in the technology maintaining power over distance, meaning the battery could take longer to charge the further away from the base unit.

Wireless charging is looking to be a key element in future iPhones as rumours gather credence.  A source previously told Fast Company that Apple was looking to integrate QI charging technology into future handsets, though it's unknown if it could be as early as the iPhone 7, expected this September.

The iPhone 7 will also boast a waterproof body thanks to chemical coating and will do away with the iPhone's headphone jack, it has been reported.

The Apple Watch was the company's first product with inbuilt inductive charging, which uses a magnetic connector that snaps onto the back of the device. It recently created a larger magnetic charging dock based on the same design as its inductive charging puck.

Inductive charging works by transferring electricity between two objects - the charging pad and phone, for example - via two coils: a transmitter and a receiver. An alternating current is passed through the transmitter, which generates a magnetic field. This in turn induces a voltage in the receiver, which can be used to power a mobile device or charge a battery.

Apple has filed several patent applications over the years surrounding wireless charging, including the notion of charging your iPhone via an iMac, and aluminium phone bodies which allow radio waves to pass through them.

Should Apple choose to incorporate the technology, iPhone owners could take advantage of Ikea's wireless charging furniture range, alongside charging hubs in Starbucks and McDonalds across the country.

The decision to remove the headphone jack in order to create a thinner body would prove a controversial one. The company would presumably include new wireless headphones with the new handset, or a pair of headphones which connect to the phone through a lightning connector.

The source added the company was likely to incorporate noise-cancelling technology from UK audio company Wolfson Microelectronics which aim to eliminate background noise.

Third parties have been able to create lightning connector headphones since June 2014 when Apple extended its Made-for-iPhone licensing programme.

The new iPhone, slated for release in September, represents an important moment in Apple's history. The company has reportedly slashed production levels of the iPhone 6s and partner unit the 6s Plus by a third amid fears of slowing demand for the 'fallow year' s models, despite initial sales of more than 13 million units within three days of availability.

The iPhone 7 will have to contain more innovative hardware changes to persuade legions of fans to buy it, as developing markets reach increasing levels of saturation as the economy shifts from a buy to an upgrade cycle.

Telegraph.co.uk

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