How Apple and Magnets will make Android phones better in 2023

Among the countless robots, TVs, electric cars and this hair printer at CES was a silent announcement about the next generation of wireless charging for phones and other rechargeable battery devices. Qi2 (pronounced “chee two”) is the successor to Qi wireless charging found in phones such as the iPhone 14, Samsung Galaxy S22, and Google Pixel 7.

The next version of Qi promises to be more efficient, thanks in part to magnets that help place devices in ideal alignment on charging pads. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Apple’s MagSafe charging, which rolled out with the iPhone 12 in 2020, is essentially that. Apple, one of more than 350 companies in the Wireless Power Consortium, even helped design the Magnetic Power Profile that is part of Qi2.

While the Magnetic Power Profile isn’t exactly the same as MagSafe, it could lead to Qi2 being used on more devices, including AR or VR headsets. It can also lead to faster loading speeds. Currently, Qi wireless charging tops out at 15W, which also happens to be the maximum speed for Apple’s MagSafe charging on iPhones.

iPhone 12, 12 Pro and MagSafe accessories

Apple’s MagSafe uses Qi wireless charging, but the magnets allow for a variety of accessories.

Patrick Holland/CNET

“The perfect alignment of Qi2 improves energy efficiency by reducing the energy loss that can occur when the phone or charger is not aligned,” Paul Struhsaker, executive director of the Wireless Power Consortium, said in a press release. “Just as importantly, Qi2 will significantly reduce the waste associated with replacing wired chargers due to plug breakage and the strain on cords from plugging and unplugging every day.”

Another advantage of Qi2 is the possibility for accessories. Take a look at the number of MagSafe and magnetic accessories currently being made for the iPhone. There’s everything from cases and charging stands to tripod mounts and wallets. Android phones that support Qi2 can benefit from a similar range of accessories.

Since Android phones come in all shapes and sizes, Qi2 and its Magnetic Power Profile could be an equalizer that makes some accessories interchangeable between different phones and even different devices. Qi2 offers a level of ubiquity similar to what USB-C connectors offer, without the confusion caused by different USB-C cable types all looking the same. It’s hard to tell the difference between a USB-C cable that supports Thunderbolt 3 and one that supports USB 4.

Qi2’s Magnetic Power Profile is not the same as MagSafe, which also uses magnets but is placed in a different position. So you couldn’t connect a MagSafe charger to a phone with Qi2. I must acknowledge that some companies make magnetic cases for Android phones that allow them to work with MagSafe.

MagSafe also contains a microprocessor, which lacks Qi2’s Magnetic Power Profile, allowing an iPhone to know what it’s connected to. For example, if you remove Apple’s MagSafe wallet from your iPhone, it will mark the location where it was last attached and may even send you a notification that it has been separated from the phone. I imagine Android phone manufacturers could add their own microprocessor to Qi2 for similar functionality.

With the EU forces Apple to change future iPhone models from Lightning wired charging to USB-C, Qi2 would also make Apple a road map to a portless iPhone which has been rumored for years. And since Qi2 is a standard, it could help Apple avoid possible actions from the EU around wireless charging.

Overall, Qi2 promises a lot. And while it’s not clear if Apple will replace MagSafe with Qi2’s Magnetic Power Profile, it does prove that even rival companies can agree on a standard that benefits us all. Now do this for text messages.