There are two things people with smart devices are always after: a good signal and battery power. A good signal usually is not hard to come by, but power, especially on a high-end device, is a valuable commodity. Sure, you can use Qualcomm’s new Quick Charge 2.0 to get almost all the power you need, but sometimes it’s nice to cut the cord and go with wireless charging.
Qi is the de facto wireless charging standard mainly because it has been widely adopted by major manufacturers, including Samsung, LG, Motorola and Asus. Although both the Qi and the Powermat use similar induction-style charging, Qi will probably win out in the long term due to its adoption rates.
The obvious advantage to wireless charging is the ability to set a device down on a surface and have it start to gain power. Charging mats are coming down in price and are especially useful to have on a desk or night stand where the phone generally sits anyway. It has even gotten to the point where some manufacturers, like Ikea, are both selling wireless chargers and charging cases as well as integrating charging pads into their products. This way you will never be far away from power.
Although there has been some criticism that wireless charging does not charge as fast as Quick Charge, Qi has been working on charging pads that are more efficient in their energy usage and are able to charge much more quickly.
While Samsung is primarily supporting the Qi standard, there are some signs that the company may be hedging its bets. For example, the Galaxy S6 Edge supports both Powermat and Qi standards. Even though Qi seems to be the standard favored by consumers, Powermat has been backed by large companies like Starbucks and AT&T as their wireless charger of choice. So, having compatibility with both formats is good for Samsung consumers. However, since the S6 is the first Galaxy phone to natively support wireless charging, it is hard to speculate as to what the Galaxy S7 will support.
So far, Apple has not stepped into the wireless charging game. Although the company did release the MagSafe cords for the MacBook and Apple Watch, which don’t have to be plugged into the device, they are not wireless in the same way Qi or Powermat are. There is a lot of speculation as to why Apple has not chosen a wireless standard, including that it is waiting to see who will dominate the market or that it is going to release its own technology from the patents it has for wireless charging. But as per Apple’s usual tight-lipped nature, the company hasn’t said much regarding its lack of adoption.
Another theory is that because of Apple’s propensity to go with aluminum bodies, the company is worried about the metal interfering with wireless charging. In late July 2015, Qualcomm announced it has a technology to get around this problem, but it is still too early to tell if Apple has an answer to this problem or even if the Qualcomm technology will pan out.