By: Ryan Whitwam
The Nexus 4 was made available for sale yesterday, the same day the Droid DNA was announced on Verizon Wireless. These two devices don’t have a whole lot in common, but one similarity is the inclusion of wireless charging. Both devices use the same technology standard, known as Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) to get power without plugging in a cable.
Because Qi is an open standard, there’s no need to wait on the official Nexus dock to be released, or to overpay for the Verizon-sold wireless charger for the DNA. You’ve got options right now.
What is Qi?
Qi is a wireless charging standard backed by companies like HTC, Motorola, LG, Nokia, Verizon, and Samsung. Qi relies on magnetic induction. The charger transmits power with a coil array over a very short distance, which is absorbed by the coils in the mobile device. Devices that support Qi charging have a coil array directly over the battery.
Most Qi devices use guided alignment. This requires the user to place the device directly on top of the transmitting coils. A magnet is often used to keep the device in place. Some Lumia devices, the Nexus 4, and the Droid DNA have the inductive coils built in. Other phones have replacement backs that can add Qi charging capabilities. There are also sleeves for devices like the iPhone that add Qi wireless charging to handsets.
Wireless chargers based on Qi are low-output emission devices. They can deliver up to 5 watts of power, which is more than enough to juice up your phone as fast as a microUSB connection would. There are other wireless charging systems used by companies like Powermat, but these are not compatible with Qi devices.
Currently available Qi chargers
Qi charging pads started to show up last year, but they haven’t exactly taken off. The additional battery doors have hurt adoption. The Nexus 4 and Droid DNA are some of the first high-profile devices to come with Qi built-in. Still, there are some cool options out there for not too much money.
Energizer inductive charger ($50-60)
This unit is fairly reasonably priced, and it can charge two inductive devices along with one USB device at the same time. Strong magnets are positioned under each of the Qi logos to help align the devices, and an LED comes on to let you know your phone is being charged. This would be very handy for households with multiple inductive charging phones. It’s about $59 on Amazon. There is a single position version, but it appears to be out of stock.
LG Portable Power Mat ($30-60)
The LG WCP-700 has been on the market since last spring, but it’s being presented as the official charger for the HTC Droid DNA. You will be able to buy the device in Verizon stores for $60, but you don’t have to pay that much. As of this writing, it’s on Amazon for about $35. The Power Mat is a single-position charger, but that’s probably all you’ll need. The only drawback seems to be that it makes a very loud beep when you place a phone on it, making it hard to use on a bedside table where you might disturb your better half.
Oregon Scientific Time and Wireless Charging Station ($100-110)
If you’re feeling a little spendy, the Oregon Scientific clock and charger combo could be an option. This unit has a single-position Qi charger set behind a radio-controlled atomic clock. That’s great if you’re also in the market for a bedside table clock. Still, over $100 on Amazon is a tough sell. It can deliver 5 watts of power, the maximum allowed by the Qi standard. The price is not ideal, and it can be hard to find in stock.
The price of the official Nexus dock hasn’t even been announced, and the Droid DNA dock seems to be overpriced by Verizon. If you don’t want to wait it out, you can pick up one of these chargers right now and probably save a little cash.