Some notes on iPhone X and iPhone 8's wireless and wired charging capabilities

By Ng Chong Seng - on 24 Sep 2017, 7:00am

In case you missed it, Apple has just announced the 5.8-inch iPhone X, 5.5-inch iPhone 8 Plus, and 4.7-inch iPhone 8 at the new Steve Jobs Theater located at the company’s Apple Park HQ.

A key feature of the new phones is wireless charging, made possible by the phones’ glass back and embedded wireless charging circuitry.

Now, Apple is making an AirPower charging mat for charging multiple devices (iPhone X/8/8Plus, Apple Watch Series 3, new AirPods charging case), but this accessory isn’t coming until “2018”.

Luckily, because the new iPhones’ wireless charging system supports Wireless Power Consortium’s Qi wireless charging standard (which are on several Android phones for years now, by the way), third-party Qi chargers are therefore aplenty and easy to find.

That said, note that Qi wireless chargers, like power banks, can have different power outputs, which means that while any Qi charger should (in theory) work with the new iPhones, the charging rate may not be optimized.

Apple's own AirPower wireless charging mat should be using more wireless charging coils to enable multi-device charging. I wonder what's the power output and why is it only available in 2018.


7.5 is the magic number

Now, two wireless chargers are officially blessed by Apple for use with the new iPhones and will be sold on the Apple Store. They are the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad and Mophie Wireless Charging Base; each priced at S$99.

Looking at their specs, it seems like wireless charging power for the new iPhones will top out at 7.5W. Which is pretty fast as far as wireless charging goes, though lower than the 9W that Samsung’s convertible wireless charger stand is capable of supplying. (That said, iPhones have smaller batteries.) Interestingly, on both Mophie’s and Belkin’s charger pages, there’s this note that says “fast wireless charging is enabled with a free software update coming later this year.” It’s unknown if this means the chargers can be firmware updated or fast wireless charging is only coming to the new iPhones via an iOS 11 point update later.

The Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad costs S$99. (Image source: Apple Store.)

The Mophie Wireless Charging Base also costs S$99. (Image source: Apple Store.)


USB Power Delivery

Regardless, if you want to charge the new iPhones fast, wired charging is still the way to go.

According to Apple, the new iPhones are "fast-charge capable". To be more specific, they can hit a "50% charge in 30 minutes".

However, the new iPhones still come with a slow-ass 5W USB power adapter, which means this fast charging can’t be done with the bundled adapter. So what's the solution?

Crazy-fast phone comes bundled with a crazy-slow charger. (Image source: Apple website.)

If you’ve a USB-C MacBook or MacBook Pro, you’re in luck. Because the new iPhones’ wired fast charging can be engaged with the USB-C power adapters that come with these notebooks, namely: the Apple 29W USB-C adapter, 61W USB-C adapter, and 87W USB-C adapter, which are priced at S$68, S$98, and S$108 respectively. There’s no specific mention of the fast charging protocol used, but my educated guess is that like the new iPad Pros, the new iPhones support USB Power Delivery.

Update: I've tested USB Power Delivery with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. You can read about my observations here.

If that’s the case (I’m pretty sure, actually), get ready too for a new wave of USB PD power banks that's about to hit the market.

The Apple 29W USB-C adapter and a 1m USB-C to Lightning cable will set you back S$102 though. (Image source: Apple Store.)

Note: This article was first published on 13th September 2017.

Ng Chong Seng

Ng Chong Seng / Former Deputy Editor

I write. I also fix things.

Join HWZ's Telegram channel here and catch all the latest tech news!
Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may earn a small commission.