Qualcomm tech could bring wireless charging to iPhones, iPads

With metal cases and backs, Apple's iOS devices don't play nicely with wireless chargers. Enter Qualcomm: Its WiPower tech now works through metal to recharge batteries.
Written by Kevin Tofel, Contributor

Apple's iPhones and iPads are generally great at what they do but they can't do everything that competing devices can. One of those things is use a wireless charging pad, eliminating the need to plug in a cable to top off the battery.

It could be that Apple simply isn't interested in adding the feature, although it do with the Apple Watch. Even if Apple wanted to, however, it faces a challenge. Up to now, wireless charging hasn't worked though metal and Apple devices have aluminum backs.

Qualcomm has an answer to that challenge though: The chip company announced its WiPower technology that wirelessly charges a battery even if the phone or tablet has a metal back.

"WiPower has added the ability to have the device itself made of metal. This advancement maintains WiPower's existing ability to charge devices requiring up to 22 watts today, at speeds equal to or faster when compared to other wireless charging technologies."

Aside from the ability the charge through metal, WiPower charging pads can supply energy to multiple devices at one time.

In theory then, you could charge both a WiPower-enabled iPad and iPhone at the same time. The solution can also use a Bluetooth Smart connection to determine the proper charging requirements for devices.

While that all sounds great, there's one downside: WiPower is based on the Rezence standard, whic uses different technology than the more commonly used Qi standard. Indeed, the Apple Watch uses the latter.

That does't preclude Apple from moving forward with Qualcomm's wireless charging solution -- or designing one of its own, of course -- but it could bring some consumer confusion and incompatibilities between charging pads.

Then again, its not likely that most iPhone or iPad owners have a Qi charger to begin with, save for the one included with the Apple Watch. And that one wouldn't provide enough power to quickly charge a larger mobile device.

See also:

Editorial standards