Apple’s 10th-anniversary smartphone, said to be called iPhone 8, would have many exciting new features. And one of them is going to be long-distance wireless charging. Apple’s rumored partner Energous has confirmed that its wireless transmitters will start shipping by the end of this year. In an interview with The Verge, Energous CEO Steve Rizzone said the company’s transmitters would be used in devices from “one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world.”
Energous technology designed for iPhone 8
Rizzone declined to name the company, but he can “virtually guarantee” that you have this company’s products “on your person, sitting on your desk, or at home.” Energous is the company behind WattUp, a truly wireless charging technology. Most existing wireless charging technologies require users to place the device on a charging pad. But WattUp uses radio frequencies to charge electronic devices from a distance of up to 15 feet.
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Back in 2015, Energous had promised to start shipping its transmitters that same year. But the company changed its plans after signing a “key strategic partnership.” Under the terms of the deal, Energous had to miniaturize the technology before shipping. Also, the unnamed strategic partner has the right to be the first to ship Energous’ charging technology in its smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
Why Apple is the mysterious Energous partner
There are several reasons to believe that the unnamed partner is none other than Apple. For instance, last month Energous signed an agreement with Dialog Semiconductor to develop and market hardware components. Dialog is a long-time Apple partner. Under the agreement, Dialog would invest $10 million in Energous to become its exclusive component supplier.
In a recent conference call, Energous said “most, if not all” of its early adopters are “existing Dialog customers.” To put things in perspective, Apple alone accounts for more than 70% of Dialog Semiconductor’s revenues. Also, Energous’ SEC filing in March 2014 had disclosed that its products were expected to undergo “Apple compliance testing.”
Foxconn testing wireless charging modules for iPhone 8
In late October, supply chain sources told the Nikkei Asian Review that Apple’s largest manufacturing partner Foxconn was testing wireless charging modules for the iPhone 8. It’s worth pointing out that Foxconn and Energous had signed a deal in January 2015 to evaluate the latter’s wireless charging technology.
If a smartphone has a built-in WattUp receiver, it would automatically start charging when coming within 15 feet of a WattUp transmitter. Apple ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7, forcing users to rely on the Lightning connector for both connecting wired headphones and charging. A truly wireless charging technology would be an appropriate way to let users connect wired headphones while charging their devices.
The iPhone 8 is rumored to have an all-glass design to facilitate wireless charging. Apple is also expected to launch two other phones, iPhone 7S and 7S Plus, alongside the iPhone 8 this year.