Wireless charging is an overrated feature, change my mind

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Wireless charging is an overrated feature, change my mind
The war on wires is raging in many industries, and smartphones aren’t an exception. First came the removal of the headphone jack, a not so gentle nudge to switch to wireless headphones or suffer the consequences (in the form of a dongle). Now, wireless charging is considered a must-have feature on a flagship phone. And while the addition of “wireless” to any technology comes with its pros and cons, with wireless charging, the pros aren’t really that many or that big.

Wireless, but more constrained 


In most cases, wireless means more freedom. Wireless mice and keyboards, for example, not only remove ugly cables from your desk, but you can use them to control your PC from your sofa – or just anywhere you feel like. Sure, you have to charge or change batteries once in a while, but overall, it’s almost an entirely positive experience. I completely agree with wireless headphones as well, especially the over-the-ear type. They have long battery life and not having to worry about wires when outside or just while sitting at your desk is something you get used to quickly. Then, if you have to switch back to wired ones, you really miss the freedom you’ve had before.

Imagine if wireless chargers worked without a wire. Just put them anywhere and they're ready to go! Now that would be awesome!

Imagine if wireless chargers worked without a wire. Just put them anywhere and they're ready to go! Now that would be awesome!

Wireless charging is not like that, however. To use it, you put your phone on a charging pad or a stand and leave it there, as if frozen. Technically, you can use it, but you can’t move it or it will stop charging. Receiving a phone call that you need to take? Sure, do it, but your phone won’t be charging! If it’s a long call, it might die while you’re talking. With a wired charger, meanwhile, you can use your phone as usual, with just the added inconvenience of the cable getting in the way.

Even if you don’t make lengthy calls and just have to respond to a message once in a while, it still means you have to interrupt the charging every time. Sure, batteries now are not like in the olden days when it was suggested to not disconnect your phone until the battery is full. But still, I can’t be the only one that feels weird for breaking the charging process into multiple segments.

Now, if wireless charging was more integrated into our daily lives – in desks with built-in chargers, for example, or nightstands (I know that such exist but they are few and far between) – it would have at least been cleaner-looking process than charging with a cable. But right now, you still have to plug a charger and have a wire run to where your phone is. All that, only for it to become wireless for the last couple of millimeters, saving you precious seconds and the mammoth effort of plugging a cable to your phone.

At least some chargers double as a phone stand, which does add some convenience compared to the flat ones
At least some chargers double as a phone stand, which does add some convenience compared to the flat ones

At least some chargers double as a phone stand, which does add some convenience compared to the flat ones


It’s not even a good way to charge things


So, you have your phone on your wireless charger and you feel like you’re living in the future, right? Not really. Wireless charging is not some new, fancy technology. It’s been around for a while and it’s kind of primitive compared to the other stuff found on your phone. It’s a really inefficient way to charge your device, like two people trying to have a conversation by yelling on both sides of a wall. A big chunk of the power used by the charger is wasted, converted into heat instead, slowly deteriorating the health of the battery in the process.  And while now there are faster wireless chargers, it’s generally slower than a wired connection, so why even bother with it?

Now, an argument can be made that a wireless charger can be used by all sorts of compatible devices, so you don’t need to look for separate cables. But over the years, manufacturers have actually become pretty good at sticking to a certain type of cable, usually USB Type-C or Lightning. I remember the days when every phone brand used a different plug. Now that’s when wireless charging would have been useful! Today, though, as long as you put a little thought into picking your gadgets, you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to charge them all with a single cable.

Premium feature? More like premium bait!


You might have noticed that despite arriving in smartphones a few years ago, wireless charging is still a feature present almost exclusively on flagship devices. Is it because of its cost? I doubt it. We’ve seen other, more expensive features, like multi-camera modules, trickle down to mid-range and even budget devices, but a copper coil is too much? It doesn’t make sense. Sure, there's Qi certification on top of the parts cost, but I doubt that's the stopper.

In this day and age, flagship phones are having a hard time standing out from less expensive devices. Manufacturers are forced to put as many features as they can on them to make them worth the four-figure price tag. Naturally then, you can’t miss wireless charging, or your phone will seem inferior. Plus, on paper, “wireless charging” does sound like a cool tech to have. I’m sure plenty of people imagined they’d use it a lot more often than they actually do.

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is one of the few phones that come with a wireless charger in the box

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 is one of the few phones that come with a wireless charger in the box


But manufacturers probably know that it’s not a feature that the majority of users care about or demand. That’s why going just a tier down and suddenly, wireless charging is nowhere to be found. And no one really minds. Of course, there’s always that one guy (I’ve seen you in the comments!) that complains about the lack of wireless charging in every phone that misses it, but that’s not really a fair representation of the users’ needs, is it? There’s also another reason wireless charging is not welcomed on all phones.

Just another design limitation


As you may or may not know, wireless charging doesn’t work through all materials. Most importantly, induction can’t pass through metal. The same is true for most radio signals used in smartphones as well, which is why models with metal backplates had antennas around the edges. The charging coils, however, are a lot larger and usually right in the middle of the phone, so metal is out of the question altogether. Of course, you can’t have plastic on the back of a flagship phone. That’s a material for peasants! Now it’s all about glass or rather glass-like composites. And while manufacturers have been doing a great job at offering color variety, the overall feel and look of most modern smartphones is pretty similar. Plus, no matter how tough and scratch-resistant the composites get, they’re no replacement for good old metal.
 
The iPhone 7 generation was the last with aluminum backs

The iPhone 7 generation was the last with aluminum backs

So while you’re gaining the questionable convenience of wireless charging, you’re compromising your phone’s durability. Yeah, you can always compensate for that with a case, just make sure it’s not too thick or you’ll have to remove it every time you want to charge your phone. So handy, right?

Conclusion


Maybe that’s me just being an old-fashioned grump that doesn’t like to change his ways, but I think in its current state, wireless charging is underwhelming. I have a wireless charger on my desk and I frequently use phones that can take advantage of it. Even then, I don’t feel like the few percent of battery that I’ll get between having to pick up my phone are worth the hassle. Unless your phone’s battery is in such a state that it needs constant boosts to get you through the day, you’re better off charting your phone with a cable at night or whenever you have some downtime.

But surely, other people have different habits and experiences that prove the usefulness of wireless charging. Tell me how wireless charging found its place in your life and are you enjoying using it. Maybe I’m missing some important aspect of this tech that can make me feel different about it. I’m eager to read your thoughts in the comments below.

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126 Comments

1. tedkord

Posts: 17088; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Why do I need to change your mind? Don't use it if you don't want it. Having options is always better than not.

5. Kuroki

Posts: 183; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Good point. I still remember the good old days when people said big screens were stupid and unconventional.

16. iloveapps

Posts: 393; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Also when people want removable battery, expandable storage and 3.5mm jack.

72. lyndon420

Posts: 6445; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Removable batteries, expandable storage and headphone jacks are still very much a thing that most people want.

85. midan

Posts: 2555; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

You are wrong with everything, most people wouldn’t care less if their phone has removable battery or not, even less people care expandable storage, and headphone jack, as long as people can listen music most don’t care where the sound comes. Also if you look AirPod sales it looks like people don’t care headphone jack wireless is thing now.

106. Vancetastic

Posts: 736; Member since: May 17, 2017

Nope, you are wrong with everything. See how easy that is? You and your ilk want what you’re given by your company of choice, because they told you it was best. That is sad.

88. cmdacos

Posts: 3814; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

And have...

118. DFranch

Posts: 511; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

I have to disagree. Most people want a phone that lasts all day and doesn't require a battery change. They want a phone with enough memory out of the box, and the only thing you can't do because of the missing headphone is charge and listen at the same time ... unless you have the aforementioned wireless charging.

7. Boast_Rider

Posts: 529; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

Wireless coils and contact points take space which could be used for a better feature, like iPhone grade haptic feedback, or 3.5mm jack, or a bigger battery. Not to mention that if you just exclude it, the phone will be cheaper. I have used wireless charging phones, and while wireless charging is cool, I used it like once. It degrades your battery faster, charges too slow and you can't use the phone while charging. Give me a bigger battery which has fast wired charging any day of the week.

17. japkoslav

Posts: 1367; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

You can make any phone 1mm thicker... mind blown.

37. Boast_Rider

Posts: 529; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

Yeah, for absolutely no gain. That 1mm could be used to put a bigger battery or a 3.5mm jack.

80. japkoslav

Posts: 1367; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

Space for a headphone jack was never the issue, you can always squeeze 3,5mm jack in a device. Take for example iPad Pro... no room for headphone jack.

28. tedkord

Posts: 17088; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I'll take the wireless charging over haptic any day. I've got a big battery and 3.5mm port in my Note 9, so no issue there. I use wireless every night.

38. Boast_Rider

Posts: 529; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

The Note 9 is probably the biggest phone with 6.4" display because of all the features it uses. Also, I put my charger next to my bed, so that can be used just as easily at night. I just pick up the cord and plug into my phone before sleeping. Takes less time than placing the phone correctly on the pad, and better for your battery health in 2 years.

89. cmdacos

Posts: 3814; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

What kind of crap pad would you have that you have to worry about proper placement. It's a one handed drop where you can easily and quickly feel with your finger tips as you drop it that it's set. There is no chance in hell that plugging it in is faster in the middle of the night.

107. Vancetastic

Posts: 736; Member since: May 17, 2017

I want everything, and the choice to use it or not. Do I use wireless charging? No, but I want that option if I change my mind.

51. Vokilam

Posts: 1025; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

Very good points. I want to add that inductive charging (is still not wireless, btw) forced manufacturers to use glass on the back - which is thick, susceptible to break and scratch, and does not dissipate heat as well as aluminum would. So many drawbacks for a gimmicky feature!!! I hate that I don’t have a high end option without glass back! I hate that manufacturers started adding this feature - I hated it when Samsung added it, and was happy that one manufacturer held out - Apple, and now they put this disease on their phones. I want my aluminum phone back!!!

53. Boast_Rider

Posts: 529; Member since: Sep 14, 2017

Aluminum phones cause Faraday cage effect, which causes a huge loss in signal. That was okay with older 4G phones, since they had to have basic signals, but with modern phones, you have to support carrier aggregation, which requires multiple antennae. This is almost impossible to do with aluminum. Even my OnePlus 3T has horrible signal reception compared to a glass phone. Carbon fibre also has similar problems. Basically, to get LTE+/CA and good signal, you have plastic or glass as options. I prefer glass.

105. TheOracle1

Posts: 1897; Member since: May 04, 2015

"Give me a bigger battery which has fast wired charging any day of the week." My sentiments exactly. That's exactly what my phone has and I never even think of charging it until I go to bed. Even then it's still on about 50% and could easily last another 12-18 hours. Wireless charging is unnecessary.

19. Vega007

Posts: 56; Member since: May 18, 2017

Well you are boring.

33. lyndon420

Posts: 6445; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Exactly. Especially if your usb port is giving you grief.

34. eausa

Posts: 68; Member since: Feb 28, 2019

Exactly. Don't change your mind, we don't care if you do or not. He's probably an apple shill. Next post, wired headphones are overrated, change my mind.

52. Vokilam

Posts: 1025; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

Give me a high end phone without glass on the back!!! I never liked using cases - now I have to!!! It’s not an extra option it’s a series of drawbacks (see my posts below).

90. cmdacos

Posts: 3814; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Why do you have to use a case? Don't drop your phone. Has worked for me since s6.

58. jefff

Posts: 23; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

It's a joke, they're taking Steven Crowder's "Change My Mind" series and using it for this. The whole point of that series, and this, is to state an opinion and then have an open discussion about it.

60. Vokilam

Posts: 1025; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

I love Steven Crowder.

83. jefff

Posts: 23; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

I appreciate logic regardless of partisanship, so I like some of his content. But I think 90% of people don't realize this was supposed to be a take his "Change My Mind" segments, and are just saying, "No, I won't change your mind!!!" and taking it like it's offensive and aggressive.

75. Leo_MC

Posts: 6349; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Not always; I mean, I wouldn't care about a 20 cm phone with the option to charge from the sun.

81. gavilan355

Posts: 55; Member since: Mar 19, 2015

you must not use much of social media - that photo and phrase is part of a popular meme that's circulating. it's pretty much when some one has an unpopular opinion about something

123. georgi.z

Posts: 10; Member since: Aug 07, 2018

Hm, do you think we just happen to have the same picture and title as the meme by accident?

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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