No need to wait for the iPhone 8: You can have wireless iPhone charging today
Now is the winter of our discontent. While the Bard may have been taking liberties with King Richard’s story, today’s modern-day bards — the bloggers and pundits who need to write for clicks — are in the long, slow period of winter when there’s no Apple news.
What’s a tech journalist to do when there’s no Apple news? Apple rumors, of course. And the biggest rumor right now is that the iPhone 8 will have wireless charging.
Now, I’ve heard rumors ranging from a huge price increase to additional insulation so the heat of the charging doesn’t fry the screen, all the way to a claim that Apple will charge phones simply by bringing them into the same room as a charger. This second technique is called the iRadiation and will almost definitely render you unable to have kids.
Rumors notwithstanding, it’s possible to add wireless charging to your iPhone right now. I’ve had wireless charging on my iPhone 6s Plus for the past 18 months (no, I never bothered upgrading it, even though I’m on the iPhone Upgrade Program).
It’s easy and pretty inexpensive to make work. There are a few gotchas. First, I’ll show you what I’m doing, and then I’ll leave you with a few cautions.
How to make it work
Qi is a standard put forth by the Wireless Power Consortium, and it’s the most common of the inductive charging approaches on the market.
You’ll want to use a Qi-compatible charger and receiver. You’ll also want a case with a tiny bit of flex, so that the very thin receiver can fit inside it.
Eighteen months ago, I ordered the QIVV Qi Wireless Charging Receiver for $12.99 from Amazon. It’s now a buck cheaper. There was no specific reason I bought this model except that it had a few more reviews. Once you get it, you’ll plug it into your lightning port and secure it (I just taped it) to the back of your phone. Here’s mine:
The receiver I linked to above comes in a bundle with a charger for another four bucks. I haven’t tested that charger, but you might want to skip it. Back when I first set up my phone, I did a series of tests with a bunch of wireless chargers and many of them produced a lot of heat on the phone and had inconsistent charging.
By far, the most consistent performer was the $19.99 Anker Ultra-Slim Wireless Charging Pad. It was both the best performer in terms of temperature and consistent charging.
Unfortunately, it’s no longer available. Anchor has a new device, the Anker Wireless Charger PowerPort Qi Wireless Charging Pad, which is six bucks cheaper than the one I have. You might want to give it a try.
Finally, you can choose from many different cases. The one I use (and haven’t changed, since I really like it) is the UAG Composite Case. There’s nothing uniquely special about it, except it does protect the phone rather well, fits my hand nicely, and I like the workmanlike color.
Wireless charging and your iPhone
There are a few things you should know before you add wireless charging to your iPhone. First, I only did heat tests on an iPhone 6s Plus. I don’t know how the iPhone 7 will perform.
That’s a lead-in to the big issue: inductive charging causes the phone to heat up. As I noted in my tests, the increases in temperature can range from a few degrees to quite a jump. The back of the phone is often warm (and on some of those chargers, was hot) when removing it from the charger.
Heat can damage the iPhone. I’ve found that my phone makes a dinging sound after a little while. I’ve taken that to mean it’s time to take the phone off the charger, even if the phone isn’t fully charged.
Wireless charging isn’t a speed demon. It can take a relatively long time (4 to 6 hours) to charge a totally empty phone.
If you decide to go with wireless charging, you’ll need to be aware of these limitations, and decide if they mesh well with your working lifestyle. In my case, the phone holds a charge well, so each evening I drop the phone on the charger for a couple of hours. It charges quite nicely. Your mileage may vary.
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