Struggling mobile phone company Nokia attempted to make a big splash recently when it introduced its latest flagship smartphone, the Lumia 920. Among other unique features, like an optically stabilized camera lens and the Windows Phone 8 operating system, the Lumia 920 has one thing that most phones don’t: wireless charging capability.
If you’re thinking that you have to rush out and buy this magical phone that plucks power from thin air, hold your horses a little bit. “Wireless charging” doesn’t mean there are no wires at all involved — there’s just no wire that you have to plug directly into the phone. There’s still a charger that plugs into an outlet, but instead of jack for your phone, the other end of the wire is a flat pad. Place the Lumia 920 anywhere on the pad and it charges up.
Cheating? Nah. Sure, your phone still has to touch something to charge, but the two-handed dance to plug in your phone is eliminated. Still, there might be “Qi”-ting involved.
Ha ha ha ha. That’s funny, see, because it’s all based on the Wireless Power Consortium’s “Qi” standard. They get the term from the Chinese concept of qi (pronounced “chee”), or life energy. Isn’t that what electricity is to our gadgets?
If Qi is a standard, then, does that mean there are other products using it besides this new Nokia phone? You bet there are, and they’ve been around for years.
Energizer wireless chargers: What, it shocks you that a battery company would be at the forefront of this technology? Of course they are. There are pads available for both a single phone and two phones. You could use these pads with the Lumia 920, but the beauty of the Qi standard is that multiple kinds of phones can use the same charger — they just need to have the complementary Qi chip inside them, as well. Energizer solved that problem by releasing covers with the chip for some of the most popular phones at the time they were really pushing this product. There are slip-on sleeves for the iPhone 3G/3GS and iPhone 4/4S, as well as a replacement battery door for the BlackBerry Curve 8900.
Energizer also came out with a charging pad shaped to accommodate two Nintendo Wii wireless controllers. No more battery swapping!
Duracell PowerMat: Pretty much the same product as Energizer’s charger, which is good. They only offer a single case, for the iPhone 4/4S, but they also make a battery pack with both Apple Dock Connector and micro USB plugs. That battery pack charges wirelessly on the PowerMat, but needs to plug into a phone to charge it.
Duracell has made efforts to get its PowerMat brand out into the world. In June, they announced free charging stations in Madison Square Garden. Charging mats are also built into the Chevy Volt. Although PowerMat uses its own proprietary technology, it will work with Qi products as well.
PowerPad: Another brand based on the Qi standard, this one seems to be available mostly at a site called WirelessCharger.org. Like the other brands, cases are scarce: there’s only one, for the iPhone 3G/3GS. There’s also a “Universal Receiver,” though, with 10 different connectors for various phone brands. It’s not a battery itself, just an adapter, so you have to plug your phone into it and then place both your phone and the receiver on the charging mat. Seems to defeat the purpose of wireless charging if you ask me, but if you want to get on the bandwagon, go for it.
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