Wireless charging is mostly limited to premium phones currently, but its adoption is on the rise. The wireless charging feature is much more convenient than using the cable charger, and that is why it is among the most sought after feature. Many users, however, have doubts over the wireless charging technology, including questions such as: Is wireless charging safe? These fears may be legit, in light of recent research which suggests that this feature may not be good for your phone’s battery health.
The wireless charging feature has been around for quite some time now. Samsung was the first major smartphone maker to adopt it, but the feature gained widespread popularity after Apple brought native wireless charging to its iPhone lineup. Apple chose the Qi specification, which makes use of the inductive charging technology.
Along with tech companies, automotive companies are also interested in the space, and many offer an in-cabin wireless charging feature. Many cars from Audi, Chevrolet, KIA, Hyundai, Nissan, BMW and more come with in-cabin wireless charging, which is based on the electromagnetic Qi charging specification.
Moreover, public Qi charging locations are also growing worldwide, while major brands like McDonald’s, Marriott, Ibis and more offer Qi-based charging features on their properties. There are Qi charging stations in many airports as well, while companies such as Facebook, Google, Deloitte and others have built Qi into their corporate offices.
According to IHS, the wireless power market is expected to reach a billion receiver units shipped by 2020. Further, a 2016 IHS Markit consumer survey found that one in four people have used the wireless charging feature and 98% of them would want that feature in their next phone.
With the growing demand for the feature, a common question that many smartphone users may have is: Is wireless charging safe? And, as per the American Chemical Society, the feature may not be good for the phone’s battery.
Research from the American Chemical Society earlier this year based its conclusion on a factor that is already considered one of the biggest enemies of your phone’s battery. This enemy is the heat. If the battery of your phone is exposed to elevated temperatures for more time, then it could lower the battery’s overall lifespan.
Now, talking of why Qi-based wireless charging is bad for your phone, it is because both the charger and the device give off heat. Since the smartphone and a charging surface are in contact with each other, it makes the matter even worse.
As per the study, as there are “limited opportunities to dissipate heat or shield (an iPhone),” charging inductively may end up heating the battery more than wired chargers.
Also, if the coils on the smartphone and coils on the charging pad are not aligned properly, then the system could produce even more heat. When the coils are not properly aligned, the charging pads usually raise the power to ensure the device gets charged.
To prove their point, the researchers compared the smartphones charged by the wired charger, wireless chargers when not properly aligned, and wireless chargers when properly aligned. As per the researchers, the charger that was properly aligned got seven degrees hotter than the traditional wired charger.
Although the misaligned charger also reached about the same temperature, it got there much sooner. Also, it took much longer to cool down. Overall, the researchers concluded that inductive charging is “likely” to lower the overall battery lifespan.
Apart from this study, there have been many more arguments against using wireless charging. However, there are no hard proofs to support this, and the question is still open to debate about whether wireless charging is safe.
Considering the growing adoption of wireless charging, we expect technology to further improve going forward. Until it gets better perfected, users can take a few precautions to safely charge their devices and also extend their phone’s battery life.
The first precaution is to ensure that the coils are properly aligned. Though it may be an inconvenience to do so, it will be worth it in the long run, extending the battery life of your phone. You can refer to the charging manual to know more about the proper alignment position. Next, make sure that the phone is not getting direct sunlight or that the setup is not in a hot environment.
Also, try not to use the phone while it is charging as use of heavy apps (mainly games) may result in the phone heating up as well. It is also recommended that you remove the case while putting the phone on the charging pad as these might prevent the phone from cooling off properly. Apple also recommends taking the case off.
Another precaution is to put a small fan on facing the charging pad. Also, you can buy a Qi wireless charger that features a cooling system. You can also use the Optimized Battery Charging feature in the iOS 13 to extend the battery life of your phone.