Throughout last year, the upcoming flagship phone by Apple has been surrounded by speculations regarding its charging tech. We heard in 2016 that Apple made a deal with the wireless charging company Energous. As a result, rumors have been circulating ever since on iPhone 8 wireless charging technology. While we have been continuously receiving positive hints from Energous CEO Steve Rizzone on his company establishing an agreement with Apple, a latest investor’s note from Copperfield Research denies the buzz.
According to the note, iPhone 8 wireless charging would not be based on Energous’ WattUp radio frequency-based wireless charging concept. Copperfield Research analyzed several filings for inductive charging patent applications by Apple since 2013. The number of filed applications has grown to more than a dozen, indicating Apple’s desire to employ its own in-house inductive charging solutions for its future products.
Inductive charging is the widely used technology used today that depends on magnetic coils for providing power, instead of radio waves. The patents are not a genuine indication of Apple’s future plans regarding iPhone 8 wireless charging. Yet a patent filed by Apple in 2011 calls the radio frequency-based charging tech “very inefficient”, “not practical”, and “potentially hazardous”. This surely clears Apple’s feelings on this sort of charging, which is also the concept of Energous.
It is to be noted that this patent and Apple’s reaction was, however, filed before any prospective relationship with Energous.
An excerpt from Apple’s reaction on radio frequency-based wireless charging technology reads,
However, this type of radiative transfer is very inefficient because only a tiny portion of the supplied or radiated power, namely, that portion in the direction of, and overlapping with, the receiver is picked up. The vast majority of the power is radiated away in all the other directions and lost in free space. Such inefficient power transfer may be acceptable for data transmission but is not practical for transferring useful amounts of electrical energy for the purpose of doing work, such as for charging electrical devices. […]
Apart from it, Copperfield Research also suggests Apple’s partnership with Lite-On Semiconductor for wireless charging bridge rectifiers and rumored design plans to be clear indication of the company’s plan to go for inductive charging.
As explained by Copperfield Research, bridge rectifiers are used to transform Alternate current (AC) into the Direct current (DC). Now interestingly, this is something required for inductive charging, something that wouldn’t be necessary if Apple is relying on Energous’ all-in-one module.
In addition to iPhone 8 wireless charging, the rumored all-glass body design also hints towards inductive charging. For an RF-based solution, Apple will not need a glass body; but for inductive charging, it might.
Adding further credence to Apple’s inductive charging roadmap are the consistent leaks from Asian sources that the next iPhone will feature glass casing. Inductive charging does not penetrate aluminum cases effectively, which is the material for the current iPhone casing. One reason Samsung adopted plastic material for its cases is to improve the performance of wireless charging.
A major misperception among tech blogs and WATT investors is that Apple’s switch to a glass casing somehow confirms the inclusion of WATT’s charging technology. This is ridiculous. The efficacy of RF wireless charging (WATT’s technology) is not affected by aluminium or plastic cases.
More evidence in support of iPhone 8 wireless charging to be inductive are the several patents on inductive charging by Apple which outlines the enhancements the company has made in this field over the last few years. They also give hints regarding the way wireless charging could work in case Apple is developing an in-house inductive charging solution for iPhone 8.
We can think of multiple objects from patents that may provide power, like a table top with an inbuilt charging coil, a desktop charging station. Possibilities of a desktop or notebook computer are equally in place, which might be used to power an iPhone or iPad. If so, devices may even share power with each other, i.e. a full-charged iPhone could charge an iPad or vice versa.
According to Copperfield Research, Apple had a partnership with Energous which rendered the Cupertino-based company a way to do thorough research on radio-frequency-based charging without shedding cash.
The conclusion is still that Apple will use in-house inductive technology for iPhone 8 wireless charging and possibly in its future products as well.
Note: Copperfield Research is an anonymous group of researchers who have shorted Watt’s stock and may not be entirely impartial. The evidence as presented by the group brings compelling arguments regarding the use of an in-house inductive charging solution for iPhone 8 wireless charging rather than Apple’s partnership with Energous.
You can read more about iPhone 8 at iPhone 8 would come in three different sizes, with glass backs