• The Wireless Power Consortium will base Qi2 on Apple’s MagSafe tech. 
  • It is more efficient, easier to use, and cooler.
  • Apple gives away a little to gain a lot.

An iPhone on a wireless charging pad.

The next standard for wireless phone chargers will be based on Apple's MagSafe tech. Yes, for Android too. 

Qi2, the straightforwardly-named sequel to all the ‘wireless’ Qi chargers in use today, will pretty much just be Apple’s MagSafe. It enables faster charging, less power waste, and, says the Wireless Power Consortium’s press release, “won’t shorten battery life or damage a user’s phone.”

“MagSafe is so good that apparently, it’ll be the new standard going forward for Qi charging devices. That’s a plus for not having to carefully align your phone on a charging pad,” long-time Apple journalist Dan Moren writes on his Six Colors blog. “It also suggests that other devices and accessories that want to advertise Qi compatibility will also be MagSafe/iPhone compatible.”

Magnetic Attraction

You can already charge an iPhone from any old induction-charging pad, which the industry has convinced us to call "wireless," even though there is clearly a wire running to a USB charger somewhere, and you have to lay your device on the charging pad. 

The need for good technology goes together with the need for standardization…

The advantage of Apple's MagSafe over Qi chargers is that they have magnets. Induction charging works by creating a magnetic field using metal coils. This field induces an electric current in a nearby coil (inside your phone, for example), which is how the power is transferred. The efficiency of this transfer depends on the accurate alignment of the coils in the pad and the device, and the MagSafe magnets do this automatically. 

This ensures faster charging and less heat, which is where all that wasted energy ends up. MagSafe is still not nearly as efficient as plugging in a cable, but at least it minimizes waste. Wireless charging can use up to 45% more electricity than using a cable.

“Charging speeds depend on several factors, including efficiency and thermal issues. The need for good technology goes together with the need for standardization and clear marketing speak,” Igor Spinella, CEO of wireless charging technology company Eggtronic, told Lifewire via email. 

While wasted energy is a huge issue, the more immediate win for users is that our phones will last longer. Batteries hate heat. Charging a battery while warm dramatically shortens its overall life, so putting your phone on what is effectively a heating pad overnight is a bad idea. MagSafe will at least minimize the extra heat, although it certainly won’t eliminate it, as every MAgSafe-using iPhone owner already knows.

A wireless charging puck next to a potted plant.

Advantage Apple

For the user, this is a clear win. iPhone users will be able to buy third-party chargers, and Android users will get a much better system. And in theory, all those MagSafe accessories for iPhones—camera lens holders, magnetic card wallets, and so on—will also work on Android handsets. 

But this is good for Apple too. It might be giving away MagSafe, but it also ensures its own invention becomes standard. Imagine if it had done this with its Lighting connector back when everything else charged via the awful micro USB connector. We might have ended up with Lightning being the universal gadget standard instead of the now EU-mandated USB-C. 

With MagSafe, Apple doesn’t really have much to lose but gains a whole lot. Nobody will buy a phone just for MagSafe when they can get cheaper and apparently equivalent Qi pads for Android phones. Apple loses little by giving the tech away. 

But it gains because all Qi2-certified chargers and devices, whether built-in to Ikea furniture, or incorporated in backup battery packs, will work perfectly with Apple’s devices. 

An iPhone in a case with a MagSafe wallet on the back of it.

Avoid

All these improvements still don’t make Qi charging a good idea. Not only do they waste electricity, as mentioned above, but the chargers themselves are a waste of materials. A charging pad uses a lot more resources than a small USB-C cable, which ignores the fact that you still need that charging cable and the power brick that supplies it to feed the charging puck.

And the more-complex charging pad is also harder to recycle than a simple wire. 

So, the best option is not to use these things at all. The only reason to opt for a charging pad over a Lightning or USB-C connection is convenience. And is it really that convenient anyway? Yes, you don’t have to plug anything in, but neither can you lift the phone and use it while it charges. 

Still, people are sure to keep using these, so any saving is a good one, we guess.

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