Rumors and leaks have continuously pointed to Apple using an all-in-one wireless charging solution from Energous dubbed WattUp that uses radio frequency to wirelessly charge your phone. However, an investor note from Copperfield Research points out that Apple will likely go ahead with its in-house inductive charging technology for the iPhone 8.
The research firm examined more than a dozen of patent applications filed by Apple dating back to 2011 which all point to the Cupertino company working on implementing inductive charging solutions for its devices. In one patent from 2011, Apple even calls radio-frequency-based wireless charging as “inefficient”, impractical, and hazardous to consumer safety. It is possible that things could have changed by now since Apple first made these statements in 2011.
Nonetheless, the research note adds that the design decision and other recent leaks further add credence to the fact that Apple will make use of in-house wireless inductive charging technology on the iPhone 8. Firstly, Apple will be switching to an all-glass design for the iPhone 8 which is a must for inductive charging, while radio frequency-based wireless charging can work even through aluminium. Additionally, a recent rumor suggested that Taiwanese company Lite-On was supplying Apple with bridge rectifiers for wireless charging which is needed to convert alternating current to direct current — again something which is necessary for inductive charging but not RF charging.
The research note does not deny the fact that Apple has a partnership with Energous, but instead of using its technology on the iPhone 8, Apple has leveraged that partnership to research more about RF-based wireless charging technology.
Inductive wireless charging requires a magnetic coil be present in the phone and the wireless charger for the charging process to work. Despite its drawbacks, it remains the most popular form of wireless charging in the market, even though it is not truly wireless as the charger and the phone must come in contact with each other. Apple uses a variation of wireless charging on the Apple Watch as well.
While RF-based wireless charging is truly ‘wireless’, it is impractical to use it due to its inefficient nature and the potential risk it poses to customers.