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How Does A Wireless Phone Charger Work?

 
By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: November 16, 2017
How Does A Wireless Phone Charger Work?

Wireless phone charging is a safe, reliable and convenient way to charge your mobile phone, whether you are at home, the office or wherever you have a charging base. It eliminates the need for any connectors, providing a more efficient way of charging your phone over traditional cable chargers. Wireless chargers maintain constant and safe transfer of power to all varieties of mobile phones, as well as tablets, smart watches, Bluetooth headphones and toothbrushes. Now that everyone has a wireless phone charger these days, you must be wondering about how does a wireless phone charger work? This oneHOWTO article will give you this information and much more.

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What is wireless phone charging?

As its name suggests, wireless phone charging means charging your phone without plugging a physical cable or connector into it. You simply need to place your phone on a special pad or mat and let the phone’s battery charge for a certain time. In order to use the feature of wireless phone charging, also known as inductive charging, you need a phone which supports this facility and a wireless phone charger itself.

All you need to do is to plug the wireless phone charger in the wall outlet and place your phone on the charging port to power its battery. If your phone does not support wireless charging, you can even add it using a special receiver module to the device. It slips in between the phone and the case, with a little connector going into the charging socket. A wireless phone charger is available in different sizes and shapes and they are relatively inexpensive.

Wireless charging technical explanation

An electromagnetic field is the key to make wireless charging possible. This field is used for transferring energy from the charging mat to your mobile phone via the technology of electromagnetic induction. Basically, a wireless phone charger has two coils. The first one creates an electromagnetic field so that energy can travel through it without any wires and the second one converts this field back into energy. When put together, these two coils make a transformer that is encased as a wireless phone charger.

Here is the wireless charging step by step process:

  • It converts mains voltage into high frequency AC or alternating current
  • It then sends this AC current via the transmitter circuit to the transmitter coil
  • The AC current induces a magnetic field within the transmitter coil
  • The AC current that flows in the coil creates a magnetic field that reaches the receiver coil when present within a specific range
  • Magnetic field produces current within the device’s receiver coil
  • The current that flows in the receiver coil changes into DC or direct current via the receiver circuit, which is then utilized for charging the phone’s battery wirelessly
  • Through this process, energy is transferred safely through an air gap, including a non-metallic object that is present in between the two coils

Even if your handset does not already support a wireless charger, you may buy an adaptor that will make the energy transfer process possible without wires. With this facility, you don’t need to miss out on this handy technology. If you want to treat your wireless charger just like an extra adaptor, you can still use your wired charger to charge your phone in normal circumstances.

Although almost all smart phone users can charge their phone on wireless charging stations, you need to give attention to your phone’s quoted voltage requirements. Incompatible voltage digits can hamper your charging speed and performance to a great extent. When we talk about the future of wireless phone chargers, the technology is constantly improving and the prices are coming down to make it easily accessible for all.

How Does A Wireless Phone Charger Work? - Wireless charging technical explanation

Disadvantages of wireless charging

Electromagnetic induction is a cool technology in which electrons flow in a magnetic field when a coil is moved and vibrated. Gas powered generators also generate electrical energy by utilizing mechanical energy. A similar kind of induction is also used in current measuring devices and transformers. Qi and Powermat are two of the main wireless charging standards used to make wireless charging systems. Some of them have even partnered with mobile companies to provide wireless charging stations in public places. When you place your phone on a special charging block or case, your phone starts charging. Some vehicles also come with in-built wireless charging bases. While a Qi enabled phone will not charge on Powermat charging station and vice versa, some newer phones come with both as standard.

As great as they can be, wireless induction chargers do have some down sides. Disadvantages include:

  • Induction chargers are slower than cable chargers. There have been improvements with 'quick wireless charging' becoming a new technology, but so too has 'quick wired charging'. As it stands, the fastest charging out there is with cable chargers. If you have a busy day, you might want to plug your cable charger in to make sure you get all the juice you need in the shortest time.
  • Wireless chargers are less efficient. There has been push with the wireless charging industry to prove that they are green, i.e. energy efficient[1]. However, this is not the case. Due to the charging pad and often charging through your phone case, wireless chargers lose between 20% to 80% of the energy coming from the outlet.
  • Wireless chargers can overheat in hot climates. This may not explode your phone like a faulty Samsung Galaxy Note 7[2], but it can drastically lower efficiency.
  • You can't move your phone while charging. Unlike a cable charger, your phone has to stay locked in place while you charge. This is annoying if you have been using your phone, run low on battery and want to keep using it while it charges.
  • They are not as compatible as USB charging. Although the case is different for iPhones and lightning cables, most other smartphones charge with a min-USB. Not every phone is compatible with inductive chargers.

Advantages of wireless charging

However, companies wouldn't be pushing for wireless inductive charging if there weren't benefits in doing so. For this reason, we take a look at some of the benefits of using a wireless phone charger:

  • All the electronics are enclosed away from oxygen and water, so there is little risk of corrosion.
  • There is lower risk of electric faults like short circuiting because of insulation failure, particularly if you tend to lose or break connection frequently.
  • There is no transmission of energy via magnetic field through skin, due to which there is little to no risk of being electrocuted.
  • Since you will not plug and unplug your device several times a day to keep it charged, your device will undergo minimal wear and tear, increasing its durability.
  • As there are no cables involved, except for the one connecting the charging station with the wall outlet, it will be aesthetically neat and more convenient.
  • Inductive charging stations are operated automatically without the need to plug and unplug every time. This makes them more reliable, fast and convenient to use.
  • Debris and sparks associated with wired chargers are completely eliminated.
  • You can place a wireless charger at any place where you want to set your phone, whether it is by your bed side, on your dashboard or at your work desk.
  • Charging bases may be expensive, but they prove to be cheap in the long run. They extend the life of your handheld device and the charger has longevity. Since you will not need to plug and unplug it every time, you can leave it plugged in the wall socket and place your phone on it to charge whenever it is not in use.

There are different pros and cons to wireless charging, but really, what does it matter? Like the lack of a headphone jack in new iPhones[3], phone companies will make the decision over what type of technology is used. Wireless charging looks like it is going to be one of these innovations and cable charging will soon enough be a thing of the past.

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