Wireless charging technology has been slow to evolve. You might remember products from a couple of years ago that claimed to be wireless, but you still needed to use a special case or an adapter to tap into the functionality (I still have one of those mats somewhere in my house). These days the technology has become so prevalent that even Starbucks has partnered with Duracell Powermat to offer charging mats in select stores. But what exactly is wireless charging & how can you take advantage of it?
My first real experience with a wireless charger was when Samsung provided me with one to accompany my Galaxy S6. I plugged it in beside my bed with all of my other chargers, but I quickly became frustrated with the experience. Sometimes I couldn’t get my phone to charge, and other times I missed the convenience of being able to use my phone (aka watch YouTube videos) while I powered up. I dismissed the concept as something that wasn’t right for me, but little did I know that I was using it all wrong.
A few months later, my friend Kibbe came over to visit and her Moto 360 smartwatch battery was running low. I offered her a charger, and after sharing that her device only used wireless charging, she dismissed my charging disc because she didn’t think the technology was compatible. A wireless charger is a wireless charger, no? Not exactly.
There are two different types of charging technology. One is called Qi, and that’s what the Moto360 and the Samsung Wireless Charging Pad use. The Duracell PowerMats available in Starbucks use PMA technology, so it’s important to know which technology your device is compatible with (if any). Fortunately for me, my Galaxy S6 is compatible with both.
It’s been liberating to sit down at a table in Starbucks with my latte and charge my phone while I take break. Especially with so many locations removing the power outlets from their stores entirely, I feel like I have a secret technology advantage. Qi is the most prevalent technology, thanks to adoption by Android device manufacturers and Google, but PMA allows retailers (like Starbucks and McDonalds) to track your device by assigning it an unique ID. This will also allow them to to serve you ads or coupons in the future based on your behavior.
One of my biggest concerns with wireless charging was the effect on my battery. Would moving it in & out of charging result in an ineffective charge, or would it destroy my battery life? While there doesn’t seem to be an definitive answers, most of my research (and experience) doesn’t indicate any adverse effects. The charging mats can be a bit tricky, as you have to place your device in a specific position for the charging to connect. There’s also the possibility that incorrect positioning can actually drain your battery instead of boosting it, but it’s simple to detect & correct within the first few moments.
Personally, I find wireless charging to be the most effective in an office with a mat on your desk for easy access. It’d also be a great utility in larger homes in common areas like the kitchen or a coffee table.
If you’re an Android user, there’s a good chance your phone is already wireless charging enabled. For iPhone users, there are a few quick (and cost-effective) tricks to make your device wireless charging compatible. But the real question remains – is a world without charging cords one you’re interested in? Talk to me in the comments below!