The Wonderful World of Inductive Charging

Nexus Charger

I kind of went full fanboy when I ordered my Nexus 5 last month. My $399 order ended up being quite a bit more after I added an official bumper case, an official sleeve for my Nexus 7 tablet and this year’s Nexus Wireless Charger, seen here.

“Wireless charging”, while technically correct, is a bit misleading — inductive charging is the proper term. Wikipedia explains how it works; all I know is it’s the greatest thing I never knew I needed.

Charging my Nexus 5 (or 7) is as easy as locking it to the charging plate. There are magnets that hold the two together; I just slide my phone or tablet across the surface of the plate to where the attraction is the strongest. I know I’ve hit the sweet spot when my device emits a short cadence to confirm that charging has begun. If this sounds like a difficult procedure it isn’t — finding the end of a charging cable and plugging it in easily takes twice as long.

For me, inductive charging has two immediate benefits:

The first is that I will henceforth save the micro USB connectors on my Nexuses from excessive wear and tear. This can be a bigger deal than you think; I know someone who swore by their Nokia N9 but had to give it up because something happened to its micro USB port. Once the non-removable battery ran out the device was rendered pretty much useless. I did manage to find a hack to make the N9 compatible with inductive chargers, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

The second, less obvious perk is that in making the act of charging less cumbersome I find that I’m charging my phone and tablet more often. My Nexus charging plate has a permanent spot on my desk; when I take the phone off to go out the tablet goes on, and vice versa.

The Nexus 4 also supports inductive charging, so of course my girlfriend wants a charging plate of her own. Thanks to the Qi inductive power standard she’s not limited to chargers sold by Google:

We ended up going with this charger from Amazon. I ordered a second one for myself, just because…

I can foresee a future where all small appliances support this technology, and inductive charging mats are built in to countertops. You can already buy mats that support multiple devices, so I guess that future is almost here. There is potentially some trouble ahead in the form of a competing standard, which would be an unfortunate distraction from the job at hand — to get more devices supporting this amazing new technology.