Feature Friday: Wireless Charging

Feature Friday: Wireless Charging
The wireless charging tray in the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia sits just in front of the arm rest. You just need to drop your phone in the slot for it start charging. Most wireless charging trays have a battery logo with curved lines radiating out of it -- as seen in the center of this tray. (Photo by Jill Ciminillo)

Before I got my new iPhone 11, I was jealous of people who were able to “cut the cord” for their phones in test cars and use the wireless charging feature.

My phone’s battery was perpetually dead, and if I forgot my charging cable, I may as well just turn my phone off because it was going to be bricked soon anyway. 

Now that I’ve upgraded, I’d say a new Apple or Android phone that supports wireless charging is worth its weight in gold — not only for in-car applications but for home charging as well.

But I digress. What is this wireless charging thing and how does it work?

Quite simply (and obviously), wireless charging allows you to charge your phone without plugging the phone itself in. In a vehicle application, there is usually a ledge or a tray you set your phone on, and when you line it up properly, your phone starts to charge. 

Most vehicles make this easy and obvious, and in current generation charging setups, you don’t have to do a lot of futzing with your phone to line it up correctly — the charge pad usually cuts a large swath. 

In Jill terms, how it works is also simple: There is a thing in your phone that connects to a thing in your car that allows energy to pass between the two items, and voila! You phone charges.

But to give a more thorough answer, I consulted an article from Computer World. While they use a lot of technical language, my takeaway is this: A magnetic field, which is created inside the charging pad through the use of copper coils, creates an electrical current that can charge a device with a receiver as long as the two items are within close proximity.

If you are more technically inclined or generally curious, I recommend you click through to the linked article because it also explains why Apple lagged behind and the different kinds of wireless charging available. The video below is also pretty informative without being super techy.

As I’ve started testing my phone with this feature I have noticed it’s not necessarily ideal for long road trips and it doesn’t work fast. So, it’s nice if you need a boost and you have a half-hour drive, but it won’t bring your phone back to 80% within 20 minutes or whatever it is fast-charge cables promise these days. 

 Most new phones being released today offer this technology, and similarly, most cars come with wireless charging as an option. So, if you’re interested in cutting the cord, check your phone’s capabilities and add this feature to your “must-have” list when buying a new car. 

One thing to know: Because this feature has been around for a few cars, you’ll likely find some used cars that also have wireless charging. Just be sure to test it with your phone before you buy because some of the earlier systems didn’t work as well and were really finicky. 

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  • I just figure plug in the phone in the USB port in the covered center console and keep it charged all the time.At least one doesn't have to use the 12 v adapter.

  • In reply to jack:

    Definitely also works. But once you go wireless, it's such a relief not to carry the cord everywhere -- especially when a vehicle also has wireless Apple Carplay. #cutthecord

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