Apple partnering with Broadcom on custom wireless charging chip for future iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited February 2017
Apple is thought to be working with chipmaker Broadcom on a custom designed wireless charging system destined for the company's iPhone product line, though the silicon might not be ripe for inclusion in this year's "iPhone 8" model.


'iPhone 8' concept rendering by Marek Weidlich.


J.P. Morgan analyst Harlan Sur in a research note published Friday says Apple and Broadcom have been developing the next-generation wireless charging solution for some two years, reports CNBC.

Despite the significant incubation period, the team's charging technology might not be ready for a hotly anticipated iPhone refresh expected to debut this fall. In particular, Sur believes Apple might delay integration due to concerns related to the recent Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco.

Shortly after Samsung launched its Note 7 phablet in August of last year, users around the world began to report instances in which the device appeared to spontaneously catch fire. The problem worsened, prompting Samsung to halt shipments and issue a voluntary global recall of some 2.5 million units. Following news that replacement devices suffered from identical battery-related issues, the Korean company permanently discontinued the line in October.

The kerfuffle, ultimately traced to a battery manufacturing flaw, was a major blow to Samsung's smartphone unit, driving a 96 percent decline in operating profits for the September quarter. Without Note 7 to buoy sales numbers, Samsung ceded its role as the world's largest smartphone vendor to Apple in the last quarter of 2016.

With Samsung's Note 7 troubles as a backdrop, Apple is still looking to integrate a high-power wireless charging system that likely relies on lithium-ion power storage technology, Sur's note suggests.

"We believe the glass back cover is conducive to wireless charging as it reduces signal interference versus a metal casing," Sur writes. "It is possible for Apple to add proprietary features such as fast charging or extended charging to differentiate itself from the pack and enhance the value of its own hardware ecosystem."

The report is in line with predictions from well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Earlier this month, Kuo elaborated on a long-held belief that Apple plans to incorporate wireless charging into its upcoming "iPhone 8" handset, saying the handset's all-glass chassis will require use of a special graphite layer to dissipate resulting heat.

Rumors earlier this year suggested Apple was working to deliver long distance wireless charging to iPhone in 2017, but later reports contradicted those claims, saying the company will instead opt for near field inductive charging system similar to that of Apple Watch.

In any case, Apple is expected to release a next-generation "iPhone 8" handset later this year with some form of wireless charging technology. The flagship smartphone is widely rumored to include an OLED display, though panel size is still up for debate. Kuo this week said he anticipates Apple to use an edge-to-edge 5.8-inch OLED display, but dedicate a small strip at the bottom to a "function area" for virtual buttons and controls. That would leave an active screen area of 5.15 inches on the diagonal.

Kuo also believes Apple intends to ditch the existing physical Touch ID home button for alternative bio-recognition hardware, specifically an optical fingerprint reader and facial recognition hardware.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    Look, you cannot avoid basic principles of physics. It would take an increasingly large amount of power to wirelessly charge any device beyond a fraction of an inch. Wireless power for the Watch may make more sense, but still... 
    Solicornchip
  • Reply 2 of 26
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,483member
    I hope iPhone 8 has long distance wireless charging. They could have added inductive charging years ago. Usually apple waits with a particular feature so they can add new and better technology. Inductive is old school. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    Perhaps the scoop is true or not, but it's apparent from the article than Harlan Sur is clueless about the subject matter. His conclusions and suggestions are nonsensical.

    Energous said they were working with one of the biggest CE companies knowing the media would interpret that as Apple, given the previous rumours about the iPhone, but covered themselves legally by not mentioning Apple by name. It was obvious to me anyway, when I heard that first that it wasn't true. This long range wireless tech is nowhere near mature and minturised enough for prime time.

    My previous idea—I'm sure I'm not the first to think of this—is a roadmap to one device that's both your Wifi router and your wireless charging device with a single password for both functions with coverage of the home. That's a few years away yet. It's where it needs to go. Close range and induction are it for at least three years I'd bet, but more likely 5+.

    Broadcom and Apple partnering to do long-range wireless sounds more plausible. My only wish is the solution becomes an industry standard. Surely it benefits Apple to open source their solution so everywhere their customers go they'd have an increased likelihood of wireless power.
    edited February 2017
  • Reply 4 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    jd_in_sb said:
    I hope iPhone 8 has long distance wireless charging. They could have added inductive charging years ago. Usually apple waits with a particular feature so they can add new and better technology. Inductive is old school. 
    It may do old-school, but I much prefer MagSafe over a non-magnetic solution.
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 5 of 26
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,461member
    jd_in_sb said:
    I hope iPhone 8 has long distance wireless charging. They could have added inductive charging years ago. Usually apple waits with a particular feature so they can add new and better technology. Inductive is old school. 
    And if long distance wireless charging isn't feasible, will induction charging be OK since it has benefits over plug-only charging? 

    Induction charging has not been a great experience so far. I would hope Apple would bring something useful to this tech.
    cali
  • Reply 6 of 26
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,461member
    ireland said:
    jd_in_sb said:
    I hope iPhone 8 has long distance wireless charging. They could have added inductive charging years ago. Usually apple waits with a particular feature so they can add new and better technology. Inductive is old school. 
    It may do old-school, but I much prefer MagSafe over a non-magnetic solution.
    How exactly will MagSafe for Lightning work without making the plug considerably larger? There's simply no reasonable solution for a MagSafe cable that ALSO is used for data communications. If you want that feature for charging on a phone then spend $9 for a 3rd-party solution, but don't expect that ever to come from Apple.
    edited February 2017 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    Soli said:
    ireland said:
    jd_in_sb said:
    I hope iPhone 8 has long distance wireless charging. They could have added inductive charging years ago. Usually apple waits with a particular feature so they can add new and better technology. Inductive is old school. 
    It may do old-school, but I much prefer MagSafe over a non-magnetic solution.
    How exactly will MagSafe for Lightning work without making the plug considerably larger?
    Why does the phone need Lightning? My MagSafe example was referring to magnetic connections in general. The question is, how small can the surface area of a magnetic connection actually be for charging only.
    edited February 2017
  • Reply 8 of 26
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,610member
    I just don't believe all these iPhone 8 rumors about all glass screen front and back.   I think we heard them last year.    Apple will probably just release a 7S and 7Splus.   
    SpamSandwich
  • Reply 9 of 26
    k2kw said:
    I just don't believe all these iPhone 8 rumors about all glass screen front and back.   I think we heard them last year.    Apple will probably just release a 7S and 7Splus.   
    As per the usual, whatever is released will be revealed mere days or weeks before its unveiling and the tech press will savage the announcement. It will go on to outsell every version of iPhone prior to the new design.
    lkrupp
  • Reply 10 of 26
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,608member
    k2kw said:
    I just don't believe all these iPhone 8 rumors about all glass screen front and back.   I think we heard them last year.    Apple will probably just release a 7S and 7Splus.   
    As per the usual, whatever is released will be revealed mere days or weeks before its unveiling and the tech press will savage the announcement. It will go on to outsell every version of iPhone prior to the new design.
    Don’t forget about the trolls who will deluge AI and other Apple centric sites with doom and gloom, disappointment, solemn announcements of changing platforms (after stating they have been Apple fans for many years but this is the last straw), and other assorted bloviation. 
    SolipatchythepirateStrangeDayswatto_cobraicoco3ai46
  • Reply 11 of 26
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,704member
    k2kw said:
    I just don't believe all these iPhone 8 rumors about all glass screen front and back.   I think we heard them last year.    Apple will probably just release a 7S and 7Splus.   
    As per the usual, whatever is released will be revealed mere days or weeks before its unveiling and the tech press will savage the announcement. It will go on to outsell every version of iPhone prior to the new design.
    And also per usual, a few select people will bitch and moan about the phone, making it sound like nobody is happy with it and then everyone buys it anyways. Happens with Apple announcement. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 26
    ah so the 8 is already going to lack features because of delays. how disappointing. /s
    watto_cobraai46
  • Reply 13 of 26
    Tlemieux72Tlemieux72 Posts: 5unconfirmed, member
    k2kw said:
    I just don't believe all these iPhone 8 rumors about all glass screen front and back.   I think we heard them last year.    Apple will probably just release a 7S and 7Splus.   
    No we never heard anything about glass back phones last year.  It was rumored that the phone would look the same as a 6s and people flipped out. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 26
    jd_in_sb said:
    I hope iPhone 8 has long distance wireless charging.... 
    No charge for hoping. Personally, I hope they'll be powered by dilithium crystals that can also be used to run my car.
    edited February 2017 watto_cobraSpamSandwich
  • Reply 15 of 26
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,271member
    Steve Jobs dissed inductive charging, was it? Due to the waste of energy? So if they create inductive charging that does not waste energy, we're good?

    Long distance wireless charging sounds magical. To what extent is it even possible?

    PS. Concept artists should learn that screens do not pick up shadows. They emit light. ;-)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    palegolas said:
    Steve Jobs dissed inductive charging, was it? Due to the waste of energy?
    Who are these questions to? MagSafe was inductive charging. Apple Watch is inductive.
  • Reply 17 of 26
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,461member
    ireland said:
    palegolas said:
    Steve Jobs dissed inductive charging, was it? Due to the waste of energy?
    Who are these questions to? MagSafe was inductive charging. Apple Watch is inductive.
    MagSafe isn't inductive. If you've ever used it you can see 5 pins* that will connect both ends of the cable.


    * It only needs 3 pins (positive, negative, and neutral), but using 5 with  one being in the center means you can flip the connector. They could make it a little smaller by adding a chip that will sense which connection is being used and then route the power as needed, but that's additional engineering not a major requirement. They'd probably be better off with more refinement to allow the 5 pins to be smaller and closer together, if they had ever considered going that route.
    edited February 2017 watto_cobraSpamSandwich
  • Reply 18 of 26
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    Soli said:
    ireland said:
    palegolas said:
    Steve Jobs dissed inductive charging, was it? Due to the waste of energy?
    Who are these questions to? MagSafe was inductive charging. Apple Watch is inductive.
    MagSafe isn't inductive. If you've ever used it you can see 5 pins* that will connect both ends of the cable.
    Point taken.
  • Reply 19 of 26
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,868member
    Look, you cannot avoid basic principles of physics. It would take an increasingly large amount of power to wirelessly charge any device beyond a fraction of an inch. Wireless power for the Watch may make more sense, but still... 
    I could have sworn seeing a working example of an 'in-road' solar powered strip that could charge a cars whilst they drove overhead on some tech web site a while back.  That or I was dreaming.
    edited February 2017
  • Reply 20 of 26
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Look, you cannot avoid basic principles of physics. It would take an increasingly large amount of power to wirelessly charge any device beyond a fraction of an inch. Wireless power for the Watch may make more sense, but still... 
    There have been tests done over longer ranges with magnetic resonance:

    https://phys.org/news/2014-04-wireless-power-five-meter-distance.html

    "The team conducted several experiments and achieved promising results: for instance, under the operation of 20 kHz, the maximum output power was 1,403 W at a 3-meter distance, 471 W at 4-meter, and 209 W at 5-meter. For 100 W of electric power transfer, the overall system power efficiency was 36.9% at 3 meters, 18.7% at 4 meters, and 9.2% at 5 meters.

    "With DCRS," Professor Rim said, "a large LED TV as well as three 40 W-fans can be powered from a 5-meter distance.""

    The beam won't be omnidirectional so won't falloff with the square of the distance. It can work in any direction but they'd focus the transmission at the device. It wastes energy but we're talking about mobile devices with 6-7 Wh batteries. If they manage average 20% efficiency in a room, charging a 7Wh battery would waste 28Wh or the same as a light bulb running for half an hour and this is only while a device is needing charged. Typically, it wouldn't need more than 50% of its battery topped up so a light bulb for 15 minutes.

    This is mainly beneficial in places like offices, airports, taxis, planes etc where its not feasible to have dozens of people huddled round charging sockets and where people aren't likely to have their charging plugs with them. The US Navy has been testing wireless charging for underwater use as it means no exposed contacts that can short out with water. It would be safer to charge things like shavers, electric toothbrushes and to power lighting in the bathroom this way.

    I don't think the problem in getting this to market will be the range limitation but rather shrinking the antennas to fit into consumer products while maintaining the efficiency. Wifi didn't have the performance we have today, it started around 2-11Mbps and the iBook was one of the first consumer products to have it in 1999. We now have gigabit wifi. As soon as the technology hits the market, companies will be trying to come up with more efficient solutions. It may work best attached to lighting as it's centrally located in a room.

    The concerns about energy efficiency will become irrelevant when we are primarily using renewable energy sources. You can use as much power as you want.

    waverboywaverboy
Sign In or Register to comment.