By Yves Legrand – Within a week, both Samsung and LG announced that their new flagship Android-based smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the LG Optimus LTE2, will include the wireless charging feature. Japanese operators and handset makers already adopted wireless charging for new smartphones used in Japan, and we can add Korea as the next market embracing wireless charging. These new 4G phones, which boast more power-hungry modem chipsets, larger screens with greater pixel resolution, keep on consuming more power. With wireless chargers at home, in the office, in your car console or at your favorite coffee shop, it will be easier and more convenient to re-charge these phones — it’s an elegant solution to keep the batteries charged throughout the day.
One thing worth noting about the Samsung Galaxy S3: it uses a new wireless charging protocol called A4WP. Most other vendors, including the Japanese phone makers, and the new LG Optimus LTE2 are using the Wireless Power Consortium standard, which is backed by more than 100 companies working to create a universal standard for the benefits of the end user. Why would Samsung want to use something different? Why confuse the market and create the inconvenience of having incompatible charging pads that do not work with all mobile phones? A4WP and WPC use the same fundamental magnetic induction to transfer energy over the air at a close distance. Both can apply the same tricks of highly resonant magnetic circuit to create spatial freedom, so there is probably not a fundamental difference in technology. WPC has already shown charging distance over five centimeters and even through metallic surface.
If there is no real technology advantage, then this may be only a pure commercial attempt from Qualcomm and Samsung to impose their own system for their commercial benefit rather than just adopting the already widely adopted WPC standard. Why not in fact? Qualcomm is a leader in the 3G — and soon 4G — wireless chipset market, so they may surely have the marketing power to try to impose their own wireless charging standard. But, sorry Qualcomm, just as Bluetooth or USB works great because it is standard, wireless charging also needs to be an open standard. WPC has been working for more than three years to set up rules and policies for companies creating new charging pads that has backward-compatibility with all receivers. WPC also provides royalty-free receiver (i.e. phones) implementation. WPC is managing to guarantee interoperability while enabling design freedom for new type of charger designs — there are now 15 charger topologies allowed or in final review by the WPC. A new specification for medium power chargers up to 120 watts is in the works and is expected to be published in early 2013. These medium power chargers are designed to be backward compatible with the current 5W devices. WPC has done a terrific job at creating an open forum for companies to collaborate and contribute to build a rich ecosystem of compatible wireless charging solutions. The momentum is now massive.
By the way, the Samsung A4WP charging kit accessory is rumored to be available in four months. A4WP specifications are not published yet. So would I want to use A4WP? Thanks, but no thanks.