Apple has put a cap on the charging speeds of some non-certified wireless charging pads. But why?
Cynics might think it’s a ploy to get users to buy chargers directly from Apple (even though it doesn’t make wireless chargers). But there’s a good reason why Apple made this change — and it’s to protect your iPhone and its battery.
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The specific change
To sum it up all in a few words: Apple has limited the total wattage of cheaper and knockoff chargers to 5W in its iOS 13.1 software update. Currently, iPhones that sport Qi-based wireless charging support speeds up to 7.5W.
Charging accessory and news site ChargerLAB appears to have first broken the story.
More specifically, Apple is requiring wireless charging pads to use fixed-frequency voltage regulation. Basically, that’s hardware which helps to ensure that an inductive wireless charge doesn’t mess with your device’s other electrical components.
Of course, most reputable charging brands offer fixed-frequency voltage regulation. That’s because a requirement both for Apple’s own 7.5W “Apple Fast Charging” standard and the Wireless Power Consortium’s Extended Power Profile.
Why Apple did this
Fixed-frequency voltage regulation, as we mentioned earlier, ensures a safer and less interfering charge. In other words, it all comes down to device and personal safety.
Devices that don’t use fixed-frequency voltage regulation can cause a variety of problems with your device, including overheating. Excessive heat generation, in turn, can damage your device’s battery and may even be a safety risk.
Presumably, by putting a lower cap on the charging speeds of knockoff or off-brand chargers, Apple is attempting to reduce the safety risk. Slower charging speeds don’t produce as much heat.
It’s also worth noting that this may not be Apple’s decision at all. The Wireless Power Consortium — the group that maintains the Qi standard — requires fixed-frequency voltage regulation. Because Apple’s iPhones support Qi, Apple may have been required to implement the change.
How this impacts you
So how does this impact you, an iPhone user? It really all comes down to how you wirelessly charge your iPhone (if you even do in the first place).
If you buy reputable wireless charging accessories from brands like Belkin, Native Union, Anker and Mophie, you won’t see any change. All of those brands support fixed-frequency voltage regulation.
If you buy cheap chargers from sites like Amazon or eBay, you may see you’re charging speeds slashed.
Of course, if you already have charging accessories and you don’t know whether they’re up to the standards, it can be hard to tell if your wireless charging speeds have been capped.
That’s especially true since the difference between 5W and 7.5W charging isn’t so significant that you’d notice it if you wirelessly charge your device overnight.
An easy way is to look up the specific make and model of your wireless charging pad or accessory in this Wireless Power Consortium’s database. This database can tell you if a charger meets the standards, and whether or not it supports 7.5W charging.
As far as whether you should buy a charger that shows up in that database rather than a cheaper one, we’d highly recommend it.
At best, cheap or off-brand chargers won’t deliver peak charging speeds for your iPhone. At worst, they can damage your iPhone’s battery and could even pose an overheating or fire risk.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.