Samsung's forthcoming flagship device, the Galaxy S6, may be equipped with chips that allow owners to juice up their phones on all wireless charging pads, no matter what standard they use.
The S6 is expected to arrive with an overhauled design and a lot more metal than its predecessors, but Samsung has hinted universal wireless charging could also be onboard.
While scientists are working on how to improve the lithium-ion batteries that power today's phones, wireless charging offers a way to address the battery life problems that often prompt smartphone users to carry a charger with them at all times.
As Samsung's Dr Seho Park, a principal engineer of Samsung's IT & Mobile Division, highlights, there are a number of wireless charging standards already in use.
For example, the wireless charging pads found at some McDonalds locations in the UK are based on Qi standards from the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), which are used in devices from HTC, LG, Nokia and Samsung.
Meanwhile, Starbucks' Powermats use Power Matters Alliance (PMA) technology, which is backed by a group that includes AT&T, BlackBerry, HTC, Huawei, LG, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, Texas Instruments, and ZTE. As a result, devices that don't support one of the standards need an additional charging case or dongle to get around the issue.
Earlier this year A4WP and PMA agreed to merge with the aim of creating a unified standard to help resolve some of that fragmentation. The groups expect to have that by the middle of this year and, according to Park, the unified standard should spur the roll out of wireless charging pads in restaurants, airports, vehicles, and other public spaces.
Still, in order for smartphones to benefit from more wireless charging points, more components that support multiple standards on a single chip are needed, Park notes. Broadcom is already thinking on similar lines, releasing its BCM59350 chip, which supports A4WP, PMA and WPC, last year.
Samsung's upcoming Galaxy S6 may be the first smartphone to employ such a chip.
"Last year, components that support multiple standards on a single chip were released. Given that it usually takes around 6 to 12 months to integrate new components and put them on the market, it is expected that several of these products will be available to consumers this year," said Park, adding that "with our upcoming Galaxy smartphones, users will be able to enter a new wireless world like never before."
Of course, the technology is open to all handset makers, and if it's adopted by other manufacturers besides Samsung, it's likely to encourage the deployment of wireless charging pads in more places.
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