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What Is Qi2 Wireless Charging and How Is It Better Than Qi?

Aug 11, 2023Aug 11, 2023

Qi wireless charging has allowed us to charge Android phones wirelessly. We're now getting Qi2, but what makes it different?

Qi2 is a new wireless charging standard developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). The group introduced it in January 2023, replacing the current Qi wireless charging standard.

Qi charging is effective, and while it has proven popular, it isn't particularly fast, preventing it from replacing wired charging. Qi2 aims to improve the technology by using magnets that align the phone and its charger perfectly.

So how does Qi2 work, and why is it such an improvement?

In order to understand what Qi2 aims to achieve, it's essential to understand how Qi wireless charging powers a phone.

Wireless charging relies on the law of electromagnetic induction. All wireless chargers and compatible phones have coils of copper wire. When an electric current is added to a coil of copper wire, this creates a magnetic field.

When two coils of copper wire are placed next to each other, any electric current applied to one transfers to the other. This allows a phone to be charged by simply placing it on a wireless charger.

One issue with wireless charging is that the transfer of current only works if the two copper wires are very close to each other. The rate of transfer also decreases significantly if they are not appropriately aligned.

This means that Qi charging doesn't always work efficiently and that the charging rate can change depending on where you place the phone on the charger.

Qi2 aims to fix this problem by using magnets to keep the phone and charger optimally positioned. This will make charging more efficient and increase the potential speed that a phone can charge.

If you're an iPhone user, you've probably heard of MagSafe (what is MagSafe?), Apple's wireless charging protocol. Like Qi2, it uses magnets to offer improved wireless charging.

The similarity between the two is that Qi2 is built on top of MagSafe technology. At present, they are almost the same product. The difference, however, is that Qi2 is still a new standard and is likely to have new features added and become an entirely different product. The other notable difference is that Qi2 will be available on all phones, including Android.

Qi2's introduction delivers various advantages to smartphone users. Here's why it's such an improvement over Qi.

Qi2 will initially launch with a 15W—the same as the current Qi standard. However, this is only because Qi2 is a new standard. It's expected that with the wires aligned, Qi2 can offer higher charging speeds. This is an essential advantage because the lack of high-speed charging is arguably the biggest drawback of wireless charging.

Some electromagnetic energy is lost when the copper coils aren't aligned properly. This energy is then converted to heat, which harms battery health. But because Qi2 uses magnets to align the coil of the base and the phone, it could prevent this misalignment, leading to less produced heat.

This ensures that you get less strain on your battery, potentially making it last longer, too.

If a manufacturer wants to produce a Qi2-compatible product, it must be certified by the WPC. The group mandates that the magnets have sufficient strength to align the two coils. Otherwise, it cannot use the logo. Qi2 phones also require authentication, meaning they will communicate with the wireless power source before charging. So, unless it can ensure that the wireless charger is compliant, the phone will not recharge.

Although these developments mean that we'll have fewer cheap wireless chargers, they will also ensure that all Qi2 products meet the level of quality we expect. So, if you see any wireless charger that sports the Qi2 logo, you're guaranteed that it performs as required.

You can likely use the magnets that Qi2 requires for other purposes aside from charging. Just like MagSafe, which was accompanied by a wide range of quick-attach accessories, like tripods, wallets, and stands, you can expect Qi2-compatible smartphones to have this same range of accessories or more.

Despite its January 2023 announcement, no new phone models support Qi2 as of the time of writing. So, you can't get a Qi2 wireless charging phone just yet. However, since most major smartphone brands are WPC members, you can expect it to become the standard wireless charging mode in new smartphone models by 2024.

Furthermore, while the Qi2 standard is primarily designed for smartphone use, many manufacturers will also likely use it in other electronics, like earbuds and smartwatches.

Whether or not it's worth waiting to purchase a Qi2 phone depends on what you want to gain from it. If you're looking for faster wireless charging speeds, it's unlikely to come at launch. However, its most attractive feature is that it will finally bring the MagSafe experience to Android.

Wireless charging has been available for many years, but most people still charge their phones using a wire. That's because although there are several reasons to use wireless chargers, it's still significantly slower than using wired charging.

Qi2 has the potential to fix this issue. If wireless charging offers identical speeds, it will likely replace wired charging. The preference for wireless can already be seen in how most people now use Wi-Fi rather than an Ethernet cable.

However, you should note that Qi2 is only being released as a product with potentially faster speeds. And until rates actually increase on the standard, wired charging is here to stay.

Qi2 is an interesting development in the smartphone space and will become the new standard for wireless charging. While faster speeds aren't initially available, lower heat levels and a wide range of accessories make it an improvement over Qi.

Faster speeds should also eventually be available, allowing wireless charging to become more widely used.

Elliot is a freelance tech writer. He primarily writes about fintech and cybersecurity.