Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8 promises to introduce a number of new technologies to the faithful. One of those is a mainstay of many Android handsets, namely wireless charging. But Apple’s implementation is going to be disappointing to those hoping for the accepted protocols to be accepted.
As I feared, Tim Cook and his team are expected to ‘lock’ the iPhone into using Apple’s own wireless charging units or charging units that adhere to the ‘Made for iPhone’ (MfI) program… which involves financial payments to Apple from the third-party manufacturers.
When Apple joined the Wireless Power Consortium earlier this year there was a hope that it would adopt the industry standard Qi charging protocol. Reports from Macotakara this weekend suggest that the wireless charging used by Apple will run at just 7.5 watts, compared to the 15 watts which makes up the Qi 1.2 standard. It also suggests that third-party charging pads will need to be licensed through the MfI program.
This would explain in part why wireless charging may not be available out of the box, instead waiting for an iOS 11 software update to turn it on. No doubt part of the iOS charging process will be to check that the pad delivering the inductive power is licensed by Apple – and if it is not the iPhone will refuse to accept the incoming charge.
The upshot is that the plethora of charging pads and accessories currently on the market that are interchangeable with any device supporting the Qi standard will be unable to charge the new iPhones. Apple has decided not to work with the growing and accepted standard, instead deciding to put up a technological wall between the charging community and the iPhone. To take one example, the increasing number of public ‘wireless charging’ spots from companies such as AirCharge will be incompatible with Cupertino’s latest device.
Once more Apple has chosen to maximize the financial return to itself while ignoring the greater good of promoting a single standard. While it is perfectly within its right to do so, the end result gives the appearance of a company that is closed to the wider adoption of shared technology, is not open to equal collaboration and has not considered the extra manufacturing resources that will be required to support two competing standards.
This is one leak that I hope is wrong, but I fear is right.