Your next Android phone will be better thanks to Apple and magnets

Among the many robots, televisions, electric vehicles and this hair printer at CES was a silent announcement about the next generation wireless charging for phones and other rechargeable battery devices. Qi2 (pronounced “chee dos”) is the continuation of the Qi wireless charging found in phones like the iPhone 14, Samsung Galaxy S22, and Google Pixel 7.

The next version of Qi promises to be more efficient in part thanks to magnets that help position devices in ideal alignment on charging pads. If that sounds familiar, that’s because Apple’s MagSafe charging, which launched with the iPhone 12 in 2020, is essentially just that. In fact, Apple, which is one of the more than 350 companies that make up the Wireless Power Consortium, helped design the Magnetic Power Profile that is part of Qi2.

While the magnetic power profile isn’t exactly the same as MagSafe, it could lead to Qi2 being adopted in more devices, including AR or VR headsets. It could also lead to faster charging speeds. Qi wireless charging is currently capped at 15W, which also happens to be the maximum speed for Apple MagSafe charging on iPhones.

Accessories for iPhone 12, 12 Pro and MagSafe

Apple’s MagSafe uses Qi wireless charging, but the magnets allow for a variety of attachments.

Patrick Holland/CNET

“Qi2’s perfect alignment improves power efficiency by reducing power loss that can occur when the phone or charger is misaligned,” Wireless Power Consortium CEO Paul Struhsaker said in a statement. Press release. “Just as important, Qi2 will greatly reduce landfill waste associated with wired charger replacement due to broken plugs and the stress placed on wires by daily plugging and unplugging.”

Another advantage of Qi2 is the potential of accessories. Take a look at the number of MagSafe and magnetic accessories currently manufactured for the iPhone. There’s everything from cases and charging stands to tripods and wallets. Qi2-compatible Android phones could benefit from a similar range of accessories.

Considering that Android phones come in all shapes and sizes, Qi2 and its magnetic power profile could be an equalizer that makes some accessories interchangeable between different phones and even different devices. Qi2 offers a similar level of ubiquity as USB-C connectors, without the confusion caused by different types of USB-C cables looking the same. It’s hard to tell the difference between a Thunderbolt 3-compatible USB-C cable and a USB 4-compatible one.

Qi2’s magnetic power profile is not the same as MagSafe, which also uses magnets but arranged in a different position. So you wouldn’t be able to connect a MagSafe charger to a Qi2-enabled phone. I must admit that some companies make magnetic cases for Android phones that allow them to work with MagSafe.

MagSafe also contains a microprocessor, which Qi2’s magnetic power profile lacks, that allows an iPhone to know what it’s connected to. For example, if you remove Apple’s MagSafe wallet from your iPhone, it will mark the location where it was last attached and can even send you a notification that it’s detached from the phone. I imagine Android phone makers could add their own microprocessor to Qi2 for similar functionality.

With the The EU forces Apple to change future iPhone models from Lightning cable charging to USB-C, Qi2 could also provide Apple with a roadmap to a portless iPhone which has been rumored for several years. And since Qi2 is a standard, it could help Apple avoid any potential EU action around wireless charging.

In general, Qi2 promises a lot. And while it’s unclear if Apple will replace MagSafe with Qi2’s magnetic power profile, it proves that even rival companies can agree on a standard that benefits us all. Now do this to send text messages.

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