Nowadays, when we talk about Qi charging we refer to the international Qi 1.2 standard that was released in 2015 and quickly spread to all four corners of the wireless charging market. Although not groundbreaking in the inductive charging industry, the Qi 1.2 standard allowed for a fast-charging rate of up to 15 Wh.
This was a clear sign that soon enough, wireless charging would finally have the capacity to fully challenge wired chargers in every capacity. Bear in mind that establishing the Qi 1.2 wasn’t easy and that it took many years for the technology to reach those parameters. It seems, however, that these parameters are on the verge of evolving once more.
With the newest installment, Qi charging can provide a much more stable and reliable connection, even though it doesn’t yet break any ground in regards to speed. If anything,Qi v1.3 is more about accessibility than speed. Let us then take a closer look at what Qi v1.3 has to offer and how it expands on an already functional charging standard.
A matter of security
One of the first things we notice about Qi v1.3 is the authentification protocol that’s substantially different from the 1.2 version. For those of you who don’t know, the authentification protocol is responsible for determining the type of Qi-certified device that’s being charged and thus, delivering the supported charge in an effective manner.
In some ways, this is similar to a plug or port that shifts its form according to the device or appliance it connects to. When the authentification protocol is unable to determine the exact parameters of the chargeable device, it usually employs a somewhat reduced charging speed or even rejects the device outright.
Having said that, know that each device is equipped with its own proprietary coil and that most wireless chargers can accommodate them to some extent. These protocols also include a range of safety features intended to minimize the risk of damage to the device itself and to the wireless charger by proxy.
It is for this reason that most Qi chargers incorporate a WPC Qi certification protocol that ensures the charger’s compatibility with most Qi-ready devices on the market. Bear in mind that uncertified chargers do exist but that they’re severely lacking in functionality and versatility. Then again, you are better off spending extra on a charger made by a reputable manufacturer.
How exactly does it work?
For us to geta better understanding of how Qi v1.3 works we would have to first make an effort to understand the chipsets that this technology uses. These physical chipsets are integrated into both the transmitters and the receivers, yet they seldom allow for forward compatibility due to their inflexibility.
As soon as the Qi-ready device gets authenticated by the certification protocol, the chipsets we talked about will trigger a short-range communication protocol. This protocol requests a certification key from the transmitter, then uses an algorithm to determine the certification status of the transmitter device.
Afterward, the receiver starts requesting the desired amount of charging power from the charger within the optimal parameters. Know that it is the receiver that determines the exact charge power and consistency, meaning that the charger itself won’t really know the receiver’s functional parameters most of the time.
Seeing how this differs from the Qi 1.2 protocol, it isn’t obvious if Qi v1.3 chargers will be backward compatible with older Qi-ready devices. Then again, it took nearly 10 years for Qi 1.2 protocols to catch on, so we may have to wait a few years until Qi v1.3 reaches the spread and availability that current Qi chargers enjoy.
By looking at how much the authentification protocols differ between Qi 1.2 and Qi 1.3 systems, we can deduce that the hardware they employ is also a bit different. As such, it appears that there will be limited compatibility between the two protocols, a limitation that will stretch out to a series of Qi-ready devices.
It goes without saying that although already existing Qi chargers that operate a 1.2 protocol won’t exactly go extinct anytime soon, they are very likely to be replaced in the long run by newer, more reliable Qi v1.3 chargers. To be specific, 1.3 chargers will be fully compatible with 1.3 devices with minimal limitations.
When pairing a 1.3 charger to a 1.2 smartphone, for instance, it is likely that either the charger will be tasked with delivering a somewhat reduced charge or that the phone will simply seize to charge. This limitation also applies to 1.2 chargers and 1.3 smartphones because the charger will likely be unable to discern between a certified transmitter and a non-certified model.
When can we expect Qi v1.3 to become available?
At the moment, the Qi v1.3 protocol exists solely as a prototype, with very few models having been built so far. If we are to make an educated guess, we can presume that they will become widely available in less than two years or so. This also depends on how willing most smartphone manufacturers are to integrate the protocol into their new releases.
Bear in mind that unlike Qi chargers, devices that incorporate Qi-ready receivers spend a much longer time in their development phase. So even if giants like Apple or Samsung decide to focus on integrating Qi v1.3 into their devices, it’s still going to take a couple of years for these devices to make good use of the technology.
All in all, there’s no denying that Qi protocols will inevitably progress to the point where they completely replace wired chargers, both in regards to speed and reliability. For the time being, however, you probably shouldn’t invest in a wireless charger with Qi v1.3 protocols unless you also happen to own a Qi v1.3-certified phone or tablet.