September 13, 2012, 1:54 PM — In some ways the iPhone 5 is a significant technological step up over its predecessor with its two times faster A6 processor, longer battery life, larger scratch-proof sapphire glass lens cover, and LTE network support. So why no wireless charging?
Last week, the first of what will likely become hundreds of new mobile products with built-in wireless charging was announced in the U.S.
The Nokia Lumia 920, a Windows Phone 8 smartphone launched last week, is the first U.S. smartphone to have embedded wireless charging.
Already, products from 120 companies are certified as compliant with the Qi (pronounced "chee") standard for wireless charging, according to the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC).
The Qi standard sets the specifications for mobile devices to be charged either by resting on a magnetic induction pad or by using resonance charging. Resonance charging allows a device to be charged from up to 1.5-in. away from the power source, such as a laptop. Furniture and auto makers are already preparing products that will afford wireless charging for mobile devices.
While more than 100 vendors have joined the WPC and its standards efforts, notably missing is Apple. Samsung is also not among the WPC membership.
Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney believes Apple may be trying to force their own standard, just like they did by not offering micro USB like other smartphone vendors.
"Apple is not always first to technology. I am not therefore surprised," Dulaney said. "Google and Nokia/Microsoft have been shown to be far more aggressive."
"They don't support Qi. Again not surprising," Dulaney continued. "This means that as Apple falls behind in a number of technical areas there will still be value propositions for the other platforms to offer. This is a good thing. It gives us choice and competition."
Also in the plus column, Dulaney noted, Apple is the only vendor aside from BlackBerry maker RIM to have a consistent connector over the years.
Today, however, there are 8.5 million Qi-capable devices sold worldwide. The largest market for wireless charging is Japan, where it's almost impossible to purchase a mobile phone without the capability embedded in it, said Menno Treffers, chairman of WPC.