The iPhone X Will Force Apple To Choose Between Good Or Evil – Forbes

Apple knows the power of being in control of hardware developed for its smartphones. Many of the advantages in the iPhone ecosystem come from the tight integration between hardware and software – the  A11 system on chip and W2 peripheral controller being prime examples. The introduction of wireless charging in the recently announced iPhones takes a contrarian view, as Tim Cook and his team join a widely adopted standard.

On the surface Apple is simply being a good member of the community as it finally embraces Qi charging, but Cupertino has already announced plans to extend wireless charging beyond the current Qi standard. What comes after these two recognisable steps?

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a media event at Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California (Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

First of all, Apple is rightly embracing the Qi standard championed by the Wireless Power Consortium. If you have a Qi-certified charger, then the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X will accept charge from these accessories. That allows hardware from the likes of Mophie, Tylt and AirCharge to continue to be used. But there is a kink – Apple’s new smartphones will only work at the lower and slower charging rate of 7.5W. The latest Qi standard (1.2) allows for 15W of charging power, an advantage used by Samsung’s S8 and Note 8 handsets.

It’s true to say that Apple is using the Qi standard. I appreciate that (as will the industry). But it’s not using the Qi standard to its full effect. Instead Apple is going to extend wireless charging on its devices with its own technology.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone lineup during a media event at Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, California (Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Before the launch of the new iPhones, the use of Qi was not a given and there was information that Apple was working on a non-compatible wireless standard. That would lock iPhone users into Apple’s own technology for chargers, it would force manufacturers into Apple’s Made for iPhone licensing program to create charging technology, and it would mean that any investment in wireless charging would need to address the iPhone issue and fall into line with Cupertino.

But Apple does have its own standard for wireless charging for the iPhone that ties into the leaks and rumors from before the launch. Its AirPower charging technology allows multiple devices to be placed on a lightning-cable equipped charging pad. There’s no firm date for the availability of AirPower peripherals beyond ‘during 2018’ but it’s clear from the presentation that the AirPower standard is going to be one that extends itself above Qi.

Once AirPower is released and rolled out across the iPhone range, once AirPower becomes established in the minds of the public, once the AirPower logo is the de facto icon that the public look for, then Apple becomes one of the biggest players in the wireless charging space. It can work its way into taking a leadership role and then the question becomes less about ‘which standard will win’ and more about ‘what are Apple’s intentions?’

The new iPhone 8, iPhone X and iPhone 8S are displayed during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

It’s good for the community Apple has decided to go with one of the existing standard for wireless charging. How you see the future of wireless charging with Apple in play depends on how you expect Apple’s relationship with wireless charging on its own hardware and that of its competitors. It can drive the entire ecosystem forward by being a good and responsible partner that shares technology and lifts everyone up to higher standards. Or it can offer a basic level of compatibility but reserve the additional benefits to its own closed circle of hardware.

Apple is using Qi, which points to the former, but it using the slower and older specification which points to the latter. Tim Cook and his team talked about hoping its new technology can feed back into the WPC’s specifications in the future, which points to the former, but it would’t be the first time Apple has ensured that anyone wanting faster charging has to pay an ‘Apple Tax’ for the higher rated adaptors and cables.

Actions will speak louder than words, and it is the actions over the next six months that will confirm Apple’s true intentions over wireless charging.

Now read how you can add wireless charging to your older iPhone handsets…


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