Your next Android phone will be better thanks to Apple and magnets

Your next Android phone will be better thanks to Apple and magnets

Your next Android phone will be better thanks to Apple and magnets

Among the many robots, televisions, electric vehicles and this hair printer at CES was a low-key announcement about the next generation of wireless charging for phones and other rechargeable battery devices. Qi2 (pronounced “chee two”) is the sequel to Qi wireless charging found in phones like the iPhone 14, Samsung Galaxy S22, and Google Pixel 7.

The next version of Qi promises to be more efficient thanks in part to magnets that help position devices in ideal alignment on chargers. If that sounds familiar, that’s because Apple’s MagSafe charging, which rolled out with the iPhone 12 in 2020, is essentially that. In fact, Apple, which is one of more than 350 companies that make up the Wireless Power Consortium, helped design the magnetic power profile that’s part of Qi2.

While the magnetic power profile isn’t exactly the same as MagSafe, it could lead to Qi2 being adopted on more devices, including AR or VR headsets. It could also lead to faster charging speeds. Currently, Qi wireless charging caps out at 15W, which is also the maximum speed for Apple’s MagSafe charging on iPhones.

Apple’s MagSafe uses Qi wireless charging, but the magnets allow for a variety of attachments.

Patrick Holland/CNET

“The perfect alignment of Qi2 improves power efficiency by reducing the energy loss that can occur when the phone or charger is misaligned,” Wireless Power Consortium executive director Paul Struhsaker said in A press release. “Equally important, Qi2 will significantly reduce landfill waste associated with wired charger replacement due to broken plugs and strain on cords from daily plugging and unplugging.”

Another advantage of Qi2 is the potential for accessories. Take a look at the number of MagSafe and Magnetic accessories currently being made for the iPhone. There’s everything from cases and charging stands to tripod mounts and wallets. Qi2-enabled Android phones could benefit from a similar range of accessories.

Considering that Android phones come in all shapes and sizes, Qi2 and its magnetic power profile could be an equalizer that makes certain accessories interchangeable between different phones and even different devices. Qi2 offers a level of ubiquity similar to USB-C connectors, without the confusion caused by different types of USB-C cables that all look the same. It’s hard to tell the difference between a USB-C cable that supports Thunderbolt 3 and one that supports USB 4.

Qi2’s magnetic power profile is not the same as MagSafe, which also uses magnets but arranged in a different position. So you cannot connect a MagSafe charger to a phone with Qi2. I must admit that some companies make magnetic cases for Android phones that allow them to work with MagSafe.

MagSafe also contains a microprocessor, which Qi2’s Magnetic Power Profile lacks, that lets an iPhone know what it’s connected to. For example, if you remove Apple’s MagSafe wallet from your iPhone, it will mark where it was last attached and may even send you a notification that it’s separated from the phone. I imagine Android phone makers could add their own microprocessor to Qi2 for similar functionality.

With the EU forces Apple to change future iPhone models from Lightning to USB-C wired charging, Qi2 could also provide Apple with a roadmap to a portless iPhone which has been rumored for several years. And since Qi2 is a standard, it could help Apple avoid any potential EU action on wireless charging.

Overall, Qi2 is very promising. And while it’s unclear whether Apple will replace MagSafe with Qi2’s magnetic power profile, it proves that even rival companies can agree on a standard that benefits everyone. Do it now for text messaging.


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