We got our first in-depth look at the new Lumia 830 'affordable flagship' phone yesterday, and I briefly talked about Qi wireless charging. The Lumia 830 comes with the popular standard built into the removable back cover, leaving two contact points on the phone itself to get a charge.
AT&T has announced that they are getting the Lumia 830, and through our sources, we have pinned down a date for Friday, November 7. This sale date is reportedly the same for the AT&T HTC One for Windows.
The big question for many is will the Lumia 830 have the Qi wireless cover or is it removed?
A highly reliable source familiar with AT&Ts plans has confirmed to us that the Lumia 830 does come with Qi in the box. AT&T is supposed to get the black/grey variant, so this means the Qi should be built right into the device. It also means users should be able to buy alternate covers with the colors like green, orange, or black and retain the Qi charging (the coil is in the back cover).
Additionally, we are told that the Lumia 830 also supports the PMA standard through the availability of an accessory case for the Lumia 830.
AT&T and PMA
AT&T is on the board of the Power Matters Alliance (PMA), a competing wireless standard to Qi. As such, they have been more aggressive about downplaying Qi in place of PMA. Therefore, although the Lumia 920 had Qi built in, the Lumia 1020 needed a shell to add it. At the time, the reason given for this move was to make it thinner, though this is a dubious explanation as the wireless coil is paper-thin.
Looking at the Lumia 1520, and AT&T's version is the only one in the world without Qi built in. In fact, the AT&T Lumia 1520 only supports PMA requiring some sophisticated soldering if you want to put Qi back into the phone.
Why the change of heart? If I had to guess, it is because Microsoft as a company is in a better bargaining position than Nokia due to their size and reputation. The sudden turn-about evidences this by Canadian carriers who are all picking up the Lumia 830, despite previously being chilly to Nokia. There are even rumors of Sprint getting a Lumia (either the Lumia 635 or Lumia 735), which would be a momentous event. Nokia and Sprint have had some bad blood over CDMA issues and marketing in the past.
For now, we are giving this rumor a 9 (out of 10) on our Rumo'meter only because we have not seen it with our own eyes, although our sources on the matter are consistently right. [Update: new information has come forward so I am bumping this to a '10', so consider this rumor confirmed]
If our information is accurate, Microsoft is reaching a middle ground with AT&T: Microsoft gets to keep Qi, but AT&T also gets their PMA option. For consumers, this is a win-win, since leaving the choice to the market is clearly the right way to go.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.