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iPhone 7 Likely to Feature Wireless Charging

Let's start by saying that this is speculation on our part. But we do have our reasoning why we believe this to be true. Despite an all out standards war and low consumer awareness of wireless charging capabilities, we believe that wireless charging is finally at it's tipping point.

Competitive Reason

While Apple rarely introduces a new technology first, they tend to dramatically improve upon the usability and better integrate the new advancement into their ecosystem. Their largest competitor Samsung has fully embraced wireless charging. They started years ago with optional wireless charging cards that were inserted on top of the battery under the case. Some people thought that with the S6 not having a removable battery, they would drop the feature or make it optional. Rather, Samsung fully embraced wireless charging and integrated it directly into all their latest phones. In fact, they upgraded the receiver to accept both Qi and PMA standards. So Apple is already a few years late and wireless charging is maturing and definitely here to stay.

Patents

Apple of course has many patents and often patents are just used to secure intellectual property without actual commercial development. Here are just a few relevant patents:

Wirelessly Charged Electronic Device With Shared Inductor Circuitry
US 20140241555 -  From 2013 and directly related to wireless charging used in iWatch which by the way uses the Qi standard with unique Apple protocol.

Wireless power utilization in a local computing environment
US 20130241308
 - This one is from 2010 and focused on resonant charging rather than induction but still shows Apple's interest with wireless charging.

It is also typical for Apple to acquire smaller players heavily focused on a specific technical need. So acquiring someone like Witricity or even ubeam would make a lot of sense.

Consumer Acceptance

We are constantly surprised how low awareness is of wireless charging. When people use it, they are instantly in love with the convenience. We even asked dozens of Samsung S6 owners and about half didn't even know their phones had the capability. That is likely because Samsung doesn't include a charging pad with the phone and the retailers don't display them. Because it is so new, there are still some questions. We hear this all the time, "It's not 'truly' wireless since the charging pad needs to be plugged in." This is sort of silly. Of course you need some sort of power source. That is like saying "Well, wifi isn't really wireless since the router needs to be plugged in." Even though induction charging requires you to be within millimeters of the charging pad, it is still way more convenient than dangling cords and plugging in. We have yet to see a single user reject the idea of wireless charging once they try it. Yes, there are criticisms of efficiency, speed, heat, etc. These are  all part of a maturing technology and improving daily. These are also the perfect type of problems that Apple likes to take on to "perfect" a new feature for mass adoption. Another benefit of wireless charging is that it creates an option to remove a port (or have covered). This is not likely in the short term but we could imagine a completely sealed phone with no headphone port (bluetooth beats), no SIM slot (eSim) and no lightning port (data sync capable, high speed wireless charging). This could be a true waterproof design. 

Apple Hiring

Probably most telling is the fact that in April, Apple was looking to hire a Sr. Wireless Charging Design Engineer. This role was to specifically focus on wireless charging of Apple's next generation mobile devices. Because of the recency of this hire, it is not likely to be introduced in the iPhone 6S refresh but timing is perfect for iPhone 7.

Putting it all together

It is no easy task to literally be forced to innovate on a regular calendar schedule. The pressure must be immense. The iPhone 7 can certainly revise the form factor, improve battery life (hopefully) and perhaps there is still room for camera upgrades (i.e. dual lense camera, lower aperture), improved sound quality, improved hardware specs. But those almost seem like natural evolution of a product and not really "buzz" worthy of a new generation. We believe the time is perfect for Apple to introduce wireless charging to iPhone 7. We will be paying close attention and following up with innovative devices the instant we learn their direction. In fact, we are starting preliminary designs of our high end charging pads and will incorporate whatever standard Apple decides on.




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