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About Wireless Charging Technology


The Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) are the two most common prevailing wireless charging technologies in the market. Both WPC and PMA are similar technologies and work on the same principle but differ on the basis of the frequency of operation and connection protocols used.

The WPC Charging Standard is an open membership organization that maintains different wireless charging standards, including the Qi Standard, the most common standard in use today. Smartphone giants including Apple, Samsung, Nokia, and HTC have implemented the standard into their tech.

Devices charged through the Qi standard require a physical connection with the source. The technology currently enables wireless power transfer of up to 5 W with an operating frequency of 100-200 kHz over a distance of up to 5 mm. Ongoing developments will enable the technology to deliver up to 15 W, and subsequently 120 W over much larger distances.

The PMA technology works on the same principle of electromagnetic induction but operates at twice the frequency used by the Qi standard. In its early stages, the technology allowed a power transfer of 3.5 W and 6.5 W, which has recently been extended to 50 W. Both the WPC and PMA standards work on inductive and resonant wireless charging technologies.

How does wireless charging work?

Wireless charging is based on inductive charging, whereby power is created by passing an electrical current through two coils to create an electromagnetic field.

When the receiving magnetic plate on the mobile device comes into contact with the transmitter - or at least within the specified range - the magnetic field generates an electrical current within the device.

This current is then converted into direct current (DC), which in turn charges the built-in battery.

What is the standard for wireless charging?

The main wireless standard is Qi (pronounced "chee"). Qi is a standard that has been developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) for inductive charging over distances of up to 40mm.

Qi wireless charging has been adopted by many of the major smartphone manufacturers: Samsung, Apple, Sony, LG, HTC, Huawei, Nokia (HMD), Motorola and Blackberry. It's also being incorporated inside numerous vehicles now too - see below. 

Another wireless charging standard was Powermat. It was used by some retailers such as Starbucks to enable customers to charge their phones. But it lost the format war if you like, so Powermat said in 2018 that it would develop commercial wireless charging technology compatible with Qi. 

Qi has three separate power specifications, beginning with low power, which is primarily what we're talking about here, for charging mobile devices. At the moment there are several wattages that can be applied to this. 5W is a minimum, while some handsets support 7.5W, 10W and up to 15W and then onto 30W in a later version of the standard. However, individual companies can develop their own technologies to deliver faster wireless charging speeds.