Wireless charging coming to cheaper smartphones, Samsung hints

Lower costs for the materials needed to implement the technology will help

Samsung Electronics says 2015 will be a landmark year for wireless charging, as the technology becomes available on less-expensive products.

So far, wireless charging has mainly been an option on high-end smartphones, but that looks likely to change this year. Samsung plans to accelerate its efforts to "democratize wireless charging technology with compelling smartphones," the company said in a blog post on Tuesday.

For smartphone vendors, democratize is usually code for making a technology available on cheaper devices, thus making it available to more users. More cars, restaurants, airports, and other public spaces of all descriptions will very soon offer wireless charging, according to Samsung.

There are a number of reasons for Samsung's optimism, including lower costs for the materials needed for the underlying technology and less fragmentation.

In January, two of three groups (Power Matters Alliance and Alliance for Wireless Power) working on standards for wireless charging merged with the hope of speeding up adoption and lowering costs. Also, with the help of components that can handle multiple standards on a single chip, fragmentation of tech specifications will matter less.

Progress has also been made on the charging pads, which users put their phones on when they want to charge them. The Galaxy S4 charging pads used about 80 separate components. For the Galaxy S5 pads, that number dropped to 50, and efforts are being made to decrease it even further, according to Samsung.

Last week, the third standards group, Wireless Power Consortium, announced an extension to its Qi specification that will require less-expensive technology, making wireless chargers with the ability to power multiple smartphones and tablets simultaneously much more affordable. Driving down the cost of wireless chargers is necessary for mass adoption, the group said.

Samsung isn't the company which thinks that wireless charging has a bright future. Last month, ARM listed improved efficiency and design as one its 15 predictions for the year.

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