Inductive charging is not new. In fact it is as old as the electric toothbrush but only in the last 2 or 3 we have seen a wireless charging standard rolled out to out smartphones.
It is called Qi (Chee) and it is a common standard set out by the Wireless Power Consortium adopted by Apple, Samsung, Sony, LG, Nokia, Huawei, Microsoft, Google, Nexus and Blackberry.
Typically, wireless charging is expensive with people needing to shell out around AUD$100 to get a slick charging platform or stand but for less than half of that you can simply get yourself a Belkin BoostUP and enjoy wireless charging at home, in the office or on the road.
The convenience of placing your phone on the BoostUP is certainly worth the AUD$40 price tag. I like that when I stumble into home in the dark I don’t have to fumble with cables and risk snapping off a plug in a socket.
For the traveler, this charger will happily plug into any USB socket rated at 2A or more and allow you to charge safely pretty much anywhere in the world where there is a USB socket.
As an added bonus, the charger comes with a power-only USB cable so for the security freaks out there (like me) there is a significantly lower risk of having your phone compromised as you are not plugging in to a strange (public) USB port that may (or may not) be trying to install malware on your phone or copy information from your device. (Look up Juice Jacking for more).
So how does it manage to transfer power without wires?
It works by using a phenomenon called inductive charging and uses similar mechanisms we see in electric motors and generators. It is all about moving a magnetic field through a coil to generate (or induce) a current.
The phone however just rests on the charger. No movement whatsoever. How does the magnetic field from the charger coil move through the receiver coil in the phone?
By using a little trick that makes the magnetic field flip polarities quickly enough to generate a current in the receiving coil. This is done by converting the direct current (DC) power from your USB port adapter to alternating current (AC). This alternating current flips the flow of electricity through the transmitter coil many times a second resulting in a magnetic field that also reverses itself many times a second thus appearing to move.
As this magnetic field “moves” through the receiving coil it creates an alternating flow of electricity in the receiving coil which is then rectified into a direct current and there you have a current transmitted without wires fed into the phones batteries for later use.
A note that some phone cases that include a metal plate for magnetic mounts might interfere with inductive charging. If you have any problem you may need to take your phone out of its case to use the charger or consider replacing the case.
The Belkin BoostUP retails for around AUD$49 at most electronics retailers. It comes with the charging pad, a power only mini-USB cable and instructions. You can use the charger that came with your phone.