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article imageApple building long-range wireless charging for future iPhones

By James Walker     Jan 29, 2016 in Technology
Apple is developing next-generation proprietary wireless charging technology to use in future versions of the iPhone, according to a report today. Apple wants to do away with the wireless charging pads of today and create a longer-range system.
Wireless charging in any form is still unavailable on the iPhone, an absence that gets even more conspicuous every year. High-end Android devices and many Windows Phone handsets have featured wireless charging for several years while Apple customers have been left still reaching for a cable when their battery runs low.
In typical Apple fashion, the company is apparently discontent with the current state of the technology though, explaining the lack of wireless charging on the iPhone thus far. According to a report from Bloomberg today, Apple is hard at work developing its own solution to the wireless charging conundrum, based around the concept of being truly wireless.
Current handsets have to be placed on a specially designed pad while charging, a major limitation in developing the technology further. Apple is looking to abandon these pads entirely and is working to overcome the challenges of implementing long-range wireless charging that could let an iPhone charge if it was in the same room as the pad.
One of the major issues is that current wireless charging methods, such as the popular Qi and Rezence standards, rapidly lose power as the distance from the charger is increased. This results in loss of connection or very slow charging on the receiving device. The power also has to be able to "bend" around objects in its path if long-range charging is to be successful, another problem Apple will need a solution to.
Bloomberg notes that Apple seems to be considering several different ways of building a wireless charging hub. In 2010, it made a patent application that demonstrates how an iMac desktop computer could be used to wirelessly charge devices in a 1 meter radius around it using near-field magnetic resonance. It is unclear how successful such a concept would be though as iPhone customers would be required to also buy an iMac to take advantage of the wireless charging functionality.
Apple isn't the first company to try and extend the useful range of wireless charging. XE, a Ukrainian startup, has successfully built a charger with a range of five meters and intends to begin mass production and sale later this year. XE will also build its own cases for the iPhone 6 and 6S, meaning long-range wireless charging may be available on the iPhone before Apple's own solution arrives.
The company has so far only implemented wireless charging on the Apple Watch, a device that utilises the traditional pad approach to receive power. Nokia introduced the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920, two phones that helped to popularise Qi wireless charging, in 2012, the same year as the launch of the redesigned and upgraded iPhone 5.
At the time, Apple's senior VP Phil Schiller claimed wireless charging adds no more convenience than traditional methods because the pad still has to be plugged into the wall, saying "Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated."
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