Wireless charging standards are about to get a lot less frustrating

Two of the three competing wireless charging standards groups, The Alliance for Wireless Power and the Power Matters Alliance, have revealed plans to merge, with the agreement expected to close sometime in mid-2015.

The merged group will operate under a new name when the agreement is closed. The press release says:

One of the main objectives of the new organization is to accelerate the transition to volume economies of scale of wireless power transfer technology to benefit consumers, mobile network operators, consumer-facing commercial and retail brands, and the consumer electronics industry, including its semiconductor and manufacturing partners. Consumers will gain access to an exciting and enhanced battery charging and power management experience sooner across the full spectrum of devices in daily use.

Previously, the Alliance for Wireless Power included members such as Intel and Samsung while the Power Matters Alliance includes AT&T, Duracell, Starbucks and Powermat. However, the leading wireless standard group continues to be the odd one out: The Wireless Power Consortium, which champions the popular Qi standard that is used inside some of Microsoft's Lumia smartphones and other products.

Source: Rezence

61 Comments
  • Yay!!!
  • Nothing Yay about that having a Qi stuff everywhere so far
  • Sounds like they want to gang up on Qi then...
  • Considering its the clear leader thus far I can see why. I'd like to see Qi respond somehow. We definitely need competition in battery and charging tech.
  • I am sure this will be a bid to win Apple, and effectively killing Qi. Then they will likely horde any new standards from Windows products.
  • As phones can easily now support Qi and PMA at the same time via a single TI IC, (like the one used in the 830,)this should start to make it so users care less about what standard it is, but instead just ask for wireless charging.
  • Yea if every device supported both,then they'd need to compete on which one is BETTER not which one is AVAILABLE. Which is how it should be
  • Exactly... It now gets more frustrating.
  • If MS adopts the Broadcom multi-standard wireless charging chip, the WP phones will support all three standards.  Consumers should not be burdened with the choice of charging standards.  http://www.broadcom.com/press/release.php?id=s850858
  • Will this mean Qi will be the new Betamax?
  • Lazerdisc!
  • MiniDisc
  • UHD!
  • HD-DVD
  • HDDVD!
  • You guys are way to modern. I was thinking 8-track.
  • Betamax vs VHS!
  • Uber vs lyft, reddit vs Digg.
  • scroll vs paper
  • Gilt vs Hautelook
  • Hope this works
  • My hope is that devices like the Lumia 830 will continue to support multiple solutions.  Several partners are members of more than one standard (Microsoft being one of them). 
  • I prefer Qi but im pretty sure I'm.bias considering I own a Lumia with a Qi charging shell, and own two of the charging pads. I don't want to switch...
  • I'm with you. Whichever comes with the 1030 is what I will go with. Until then I will not buy any more wireless charging equipment due to the uncertainty.
  • Yea i get that. But I dont think you can future proof yourselve in this tech world. Look at tv's switching OS's like a .... And apple with its connector thingy.
  • Uhh I dislike this adoption/fighting period. I go to a Starbucks with PMA pads and I need to plug in the adaptor if I want a charge even though my phone supports wireless charging. Frustrating.
  • Not good news for the Qi standard crew.
  • I'd like to see one standard. Share patents, ideas, corporate parking spots, whatever it takes. One standard for phones, watches, trackers, everything.
  • One standard means no competition and that never turns out good.
  • Bluetooth?
  • A great example. Bluetooth is incredibly complicated to implement, and has never really been 100% reliable.
  • While I see what you're getting at (and generally agree), I think a little clarification is needed. A "standard" doesn't necessarily mean no competition. USB is a standard. Bluetooth is a standard. If it is something decided on by a body that does not stand to profit from it (I'm looking at you, IEEE) then it is actually helpful to competition. In that standard operating procedures/interoperability must be met, but the companies can further improve upon/advance that standard (or use it in new/creative ways) to win your dollar. Basically, if they standardize how the connector/charger/whatever behaves with all devices, companies are free to improve things like charge rate or efficiency, etc. Apple is NOTORIOUS for ignoring standards (a la no USB ports on the iphone/ipod, no NFC until just recently, etc).
  • One standard for power isn't that big of a deal as far as competition. Batteries have a standard way of operating and really standard sizes.  The chargers are starting to become mostly miniUSB, even though Apple like to stay proprietary to milk money from the adoring fans.  I think a power source stanard would be a good thing. 
  • The only problem is certain fruits like to spit in the eye of standards and add more proprietary connections to the mix.
  • That's when you don't buy fruits and get veggies instead.
  • Oh, but fruits are so tempting with all their sugar... :(
  • The real question is what are the manufacturers supporting? If the manufacturers are not willing to put wireless charging into the phones it really doesn't matter what format it is. Nokia built in qi so qi is winning. No one has PMA built in and it's too cumbersome and expensive to make it happen. Wireless charging is great, but only when it's built in, otherwise I'll plug in before I spend $50+ trying to make my phone wirelessly charge.
  • Samsung, LG, and Google (through its contracts) are also making devices with Qi. Almost no devices with PMA built-in exist.  Almost all PMA wireless charging is done with heavy, bulky, ugly add-on cases or dongles that hang out the bottom of USB port waiting for them to be knocked off (taking the USB port with them).
  • It won't really matter which one wins if Microsoft continues supporting both in their phones, like they did with the 830.
  • Does anybody know what are the differences between those three systems mentioned in the article? I mean something tangible - like the weight/size of the devices, influence on the device, speed of loading or price, that the consumers could care about?
  • Somebody answer this man.
  • From a technical point of view the standards are nearly identical in terms of capabilities.  The one "advantage" that PMA has is that chargers can communicate with the OS of the phone, presumbly to give those that provide charging hot spots the capability of pushing advertising to devices while charging. No one standard inherently takes up more space or weighs more -- they're essentially just coils of wire with a small chip attached.  None charger inherently faster than the others, either.  In practial terms, though, essentially nobody is making phones with PMA built-in, so to charge using PMA you have to put your phone in a supported case/shell.  They're all big and ugly, though, and often block access to the USB/Lightning port, so I'm not sure how many people bother. Qi, on the other hand, is often built into higher-end phones from Microsoft/Nokia, Samsung, LG, among others.  In some cases Qi can be added by replacing the battery cover on the back of the phone without adding much, if any, additional thickness.  There are a handful of thin PMA replacement backs, but they are still very rare at this point. Initially having Qi built-in added a little extra thickness, but the manufacturers seem to have figured out a way to add the functionality without any visible extra bulk.  The 1520, for example, is very thin, and has Qi built-in (unless you buy it from AT&T).
  • Since you put "advantage" in quotes I presume you're wary about this too, but... wow.  Go ahead and amend the rest of the sentence to read "...capability to push advertising and malware to devices while charging."  Just what I want to worry about when I plunk my device down on my hotel room's charging mat.  Advantage, Qi.
  • Precisely. I try to avoid all advertising as it is. So if it means I need to plug in physically to avoid it then I will. No one deserves to be harassed with more ads when there just charging there phone.
  • hopefully it was great news, format war always make customers suffer. glad for now we are on the right boat with the popularity of Qi. even the official samsung wireless charging back covers are Qi, as well as all nexus devices.
  • This was announced a few months ago
  • Are they coming with a new standard after the merge? Or just keep using PMA standard to compete with Qi?
  • Creating a new standard incompatible with all three. J/K.  The Alliance for Wireless Power never created anything.  So there aren't any products to be backward compatible with. As for why the Doesn't Matter Alliance doesn't give up, I'm not sure.  I don't think the 6 people using their products would be that upset if they went away.
  • I see ... Thanks :)
  • This doesn't actually change anything.  The Alliance for Wireless Power has never created a product. We still have the DMA vs. Qi issue to deal with.  (DMA, for those unfamiliar with the term, stands for the Doesn't Matter Alliance.)
  • I hope Microsoft continues to include qi or else my $200+ JBL bluetooth speaker with a built in qi charging pad's days are numbered.  I bought that device when qi was supposed to be the standard.
  • I'm with you there! I bought my JBL Powerup when I bought my 920. Nothing better with Qi has come along so I'm still hanging onto my 920.
  • Ganging up on Qi.
  • For the love of all things... Just adopt ONE DAMN STANDARD!!!! Like USB. And let manufacturers use their r&d resources in other ways rather than battling for standards.
  • Tell that to Apple (lightning connector?? really??).
  • Thunderbolt is worse than Lightning: I plugged my Surface Pro into and Apple Thunderbolt Display and nothing happened. Plug compatible but not compatible at all. At least Lightning is proprietary in connection and also plug...
  • The Alliance of Wireless Power Matters. There I figured out their new name :P
  • Personally I hope this works,. If QI is replaced, I'm not worried at this point, as my current QI chargers dont stop working for any reason, and I am sure I can buy more on ebay used if I have the need for an extra one... We need a standard, so it's more widely accepted and used across the board. To think if a standard was in place and all phones were using it, think about all the portable devices you have now that could have wireless charging built in...
  • Good to know that they take the obvious most logical path... Shouldn't all of them merge just though? One standard is enough.
  • Uh.. Is that AU5's logo?
  • Oh