Google Pixel 3 and ‘Fast’ Inductive Charging

Ron Amadeo, writing at Ars Technica:

For some unexplained reason, Google is locking out third-party Qi chargers from reaching the highest charging speeds on the Pixel 3. Third-party chargers are capped to a pokey 5W charging speed. If you want 10 watts of wireless charging, Google hopes you will invest in its outrageously priced Pixel Stand, which is $79. […]

Regular 10W wireless chargers can be had for around $15-$25, so Google’s $79 Pixel Stand comes at a hefty markup. Qi is a standard, and a phone should strive to work with every charger. The Qi standard goes up to 15W, so there doesn’t seem to be any reason for Google’s 5W limit.

Amadeo’s take captures the consensus reaction to this news — that it’s a money grab on Google’s part, trying to get Pixel 3 owners to buy Google’s own proprietary charging stand. Maybe that’s true. But it may not be true. This idea that Google should have supported the Qi standard for higher charging speeds is based on the assumption that the Qi standard is technically good. I don’t think that’s a safe assumption at all.

A money grab for $79 charging stands doesn’t sound like Google at all to me. I think it’s more likely that Google went with a proprietary technology for higher charging speeds because their proprietary technology works better than whatever the Qi standard specifies for 10W charging. Keep in mind too that they’ve surely been working on the Pixel 3 hardware for years.

I could be wrong. But it seems far more likely to me, and more in character for Google, that they’re not sticking with the Qi standard simply because the standard isn’t good enough — or wasn’t good enough two years ago when they were making engineering decisions for the Pixel 3. Here’s the thing about industry standards like Qi: they usually suck.

Qi not being good enough is exactly why Apple’s mythical AirPower charging pad was touted as supporting a basic level of the Qi standard, but adding a lot of proprietary features on top.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018