Wireless charging has long been billed as one of the hot new features coming to the iPhone 8 and those rumors gained a little more credibility on Monday as Apple was spotted on the Wireless Power Consortium’s list of members. A representative from the Cupertino, California, company told Business Insider it joined last week.
A number of hardware providers have been linked to Apple’s implementation of the long-awaited feature in the iPhone 8, but in recent weeks the conversation has shifted from whether the company will introduce wireless charging to how. The vast majority of devices on the market that support it — including Apple’s own smartwatch — utilize direct, inductive charging, based on the Qi open standard. The Wireless Power Consortium supports and manages Qi technology, so Monday’s news would support the claim that similar functionality will debut in new iPhones this fall.
However, a link between Apple, its supplier Dialog Semiconductor, and Dialog’s investment in Energous, a company that specializes in an experimental form of long-range wireless charging via radio waves, indicates a more innovative approach. Energous’ WattUp radio frequency technology can reportedly charge devices as far as 15 feet away from a transmitter, even when the device being charged is in motion. But it is possible Apple has fallen back on the more reliable and tested Qi-based system because the long-range tech is not ready for primetime yet.
Qi wireless charging is already available in the iPhone’s biggest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy S7 series, and the Apple Watch utilizes a tweaked version of the standard that is not interoperable with other Qi-compatible devices. Apple responded to Business Insider’s report on the Wireless Power Consortium news with a statement, saying that the company’s membership falls in line with its leadership and contributions to other standards development organizations.
“Apple is joining the Wireless Power Consortium to be able to participate and contribute ideas to the open, collaborative development of future wireless charging standards,” the statement reads. “We look forward to working together with the WPC and its members.”
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