The Untethered Future: Why Wireless Charging is Here to Stay

wireless-charging-iphone-future

This guest post was provided by Andrea Roth.

Wires and cables have always been a necessary part of our everyday reality. When computers, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, and various other gadgets came into existence and became staples in our day-to-day lives, cables became even more of a necessity.

But as with everything else in our continuously evolving world, wires and cables are almost close to becoming outdated. If you think about it, we’re already on the cusp of an untethered, cable-free future—smartphone makers are rushing to jump on the wireless charging trend. Commonly used ports are also slowly disappearing in our beloved Apple products. And most significantly of all, wireless charging stations are now popping up in airports and coffee shops all over the world.

All signs point to a completely wireless future, and now it’s clearly here to stay.

Wireless Charging vs. Traditional Charging

Unlike traditional charging methods, wireless charging (also known as inductive charging) allows you to recharge a smartphone battery without having to use physical connectors, such as wires and cables, to connect the device to the charger. But is wireless really preferable to the traditional chargers that use connecting cables and plugs?

Safety

There are many misconceptions about wireless charging, particularly when it comes to the question of whether or not it’s safe to use. But in reality, it’s arguably much safer than traditional charging methods. After all, it’s common knowledge that the typical wired charger has certain risks. A faulty one can explode (or make your phone explode) or catch fire, and less dramatically, there’s also the risk of electrical shocks.

Wireless charging powers your device using an electromagnetic field to transmit power between the charger and your device. Since there is no need for cables and power outlets, a wireless charger has no exposed electrical connectors, which means less risk of electrical failure, fire or explosion, and electrical shocks.

As for concerns about radiation, the electromagnetic radiation from inductive chargers is extremely minimal and therefore virtually harmful to humans. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has reportedly found no evidence of undesirable or unwanted effects on human health from exposure to wireless charging technology. This is further backed by the fact that wireless charging is already being used with devices that often come into contact with the human body, such as electric toothbrushes and facial brushes. Wireless charging is also used for certain medical devices, which should serve as a strong testament to its safety.

Charging Speed

If you were to charge the same smartphone with both methods, using the same amount of supplied power, you’d find that the device would charge much faster when you use the traditional charging method. At present, many of the current wireless charging solutions that are available to the public have consistently produced slower charging rates compared to their wired counterparts. Nonetheless, wireless charging, especially for smartphones and larger gadgets, is still in the infancy stage. We can expect these rates to improve significantly in the next few years, as further technological advancements will eventually make them more efficient than traditional wired charging solutions.

Value for Money

Which charging method provides better value for your money? It depends. Your smartphone usually comes with its own charger, which includes one cable and one power adapter. Purchasing a third-party wireless charger, therefore, seems to be an additional cost.

But in some cases, you’ll actually save money in the long run with a wireless charger, as charging cables are notorious for breaking or wearing out fairly quickly. Depending on how careful you are with your charging cables, you may end up having to buy a new one a few times a year. If you’re an iPhone user, this problem can really cut a hole in your pocket, as Apple’s lightning to USB cables cost around $19 to $29 per piece.

Because of this, wireless chargers can be considered far more durable and economical than traditional chargers. Initially, they may seem more expensive than the charger that came bundled with your smartphone, but if you factor in the ongoing cost of buying new charging cables for your traditional charger, a wireless charger actually comes out as the less expensive solution. Additionally, since there is no need to plug and unplug a cable to use a wireless charger, you get to prevent or lessen any gradual wear and tear on your phone’s ports—which also helps you avoid possible repair costs.

On the other hand, if you’re fairly careful when it comes to using, handling, and storing your charging cable, then using the traditional charger may be the more economical option for you.

Overall Convenience

In many ways, wireless charging is vastly more convenient than traditional charging. Without the need for messy cables, wireless charging solutions eliminate the steps of having to find an available power outlet, unraveling your charging cable, plugging the charger into your phone, and finally, plugging the charger into the outlet. This process may not be as strenuous and time-consuming as it seems, but if you’re comparing which method is faster, simpler, and easier, then clearly, the answer is wireless charging—all you have to do is place your device on top of a charging pad, and you’re good to go.

In terms of power source availability, the two methods are somewhat evenly matched. Power outlets are everywhere, so there should be no problem in that area. Also, more and more business establishments—such as coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels—are installing wireless charging stations that are free to use for customers, which means that if you have a wireless charging enabled device, you have plenty of available options for your charging needs.

In addition, many car manufacturers are now including built-in wireless charging pads in their latest car models, so that is another point to wireless charging in terms of availability and convenience.

Wireless Charging: The Future of Mobile Devices

When it comes to everyday devices, people will always yearn for portability and convenience. If you look at how technology has progressed over the last few decades, we tend to view wires, cables, and any sort of tethered connection, as a hindrance. Take those corded landline telephones, for instance. It was great for a while, but eventually, people wanted to be able to move around the house while talking on the phone—hence the birth of the cordless landline telephone. A few years later, people realized that they wanted to have the convenience of a mobile telephone that they could use outside of their houses—and we got the mobile phone.

And what about computers? Just a few decades ago, everyone had a desktop computer—until laptops came around and gave us the freedom to take our computers with us wherever we went. For those who stuck to desktop computers, it wasn’t long before we came up with the wireless keyboard and mouse to allow for some flexibility and portability.

And then we got wireless headphones, earphones, microphones, and so on.

A quick study of the many technological innovations we’ve seen and experienced over the years tells us exactly what the future holds for traditional charging methods. Clearly, we like to make things better by removing cords and wires. We human beings like to be untethered. Many people complained about Apple’s decision to create wireless earphones and remove the headphone jack from their latest iPhone model, but many bought them anyway.

Apple’s decision to remove certain ports, the growing number of smartphone makers that have been integrating wireless charging into their phones, and the proliferation of wireless charging stations in public establishments all over the world are quite indicative of where we are headed when it comes to mobile gadget technology—wires, cables, cords, and all the other connectors that we use on a daily basis, are on their way out.

In our constant search for more portable and convenient ways of doing things, wired charging solutions will soon become inadequate for us. And eventually, wireless charging will become the norm.

We may not be there yet, but it’s definitely going to happen. A wireless version of any piece of technology will always be preferred, which is why it’s clear that wireless charging is here to stay.