Poll: For the sake of wireless charging, should #Nokia give up on aluminum?

History teaches us, in tech, it’s not enough to be the first, but you have to be the best. Apple, world’s most valuable company, proved that many times during its short history in the “smartphone” market. The first touch phone was available much before the iPhone, but iPhone 2G did it the best way possible. The application store was available long before the iPhone, but when the App Store appeared with the iPhone 3G, it was practically a revolution on the market. Apple did the same with the fingerprint sensor, NFC, and now, with wireless charging. Reinvented it.

This week, Apple announced the new iPhone, in fact three of them – the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and the all new iPhone X. I don’t want to talk about the features, “innovations” or design the new iPhones have, but rather discuss an interesting new feature added to iPhone – wireless charging.

iPhone X, Apple Watch 3 and Apple AirPods on a wireless charging plate

Apple decided to support “Qi” wireless charging on all newly introduced device, including the Apple Watch Series 3. For years, Nokia and Android manufacturers (Palm prior to that) were featuring wireless charging, especially the Nokia Lumia range with colorful charging plates as an accessory for the devices. The problem was that wireless charging wasn’t popular enough to go mainstream in restaurants, coffee shops, airports, furniture, and similar. Of course, as always, they have been exceptions like McDonald’s, some Starbucks locations, some airports, IKEA furniture and similar.

The thing is, even if wireless charging didn’t go mainstream, everybody who used it hardly imagines life without it. I for example, own two Nokia wireless charges and I’ve used them regularly to charge my Lumia 830, and I really miss that feature on the Nokia 6. Marin on the other hand has been using wireless charging since his Lumia 920 and still enjoys it with his G3.

Lumia 820 and DT-901 with FatBoy

Now that the iPhone has wireless charging, we can soon expect that feature to go mainstream. In fact, Apple already announced that they partnered with a bunch of companies to promote wireless charging. Wireless charging, now that Apple is behind, is simply a must have feature for top of the line phones.

It is a little disappointing that none of the current HMD phones, especially the Nokia 8, don’t have wireless charging, but it comes as a tradeoff for the high-quality aluminum unibody. Apple ditched the aluminum back, just like Samsung, and made it out of glass to allow wireless charging. Wireless charging basically works by creating an electromagnetic field that transfers power from the source to the receiving device. Metals like aluminum intersect the field and cause significant power losses, making it almost impossible to charge wirelessly. The positive side of aluminum unibody is solid build quality, compared to the rather fragile glass.

It’s clear now that the next Nokia flagship (and mid-to-high end devices) should include wireless charging to be competitive, but what are the alternatives for the aluminum body? Should it be made out of glass as the primary material for the back of the device or returning to polycarbonate?

Lumia 920 and DT-900

In my opinion, I would rather see a return to 2012 and Lumia 920 style polycarbonate housing, than choosing glass as the primary material. I personally would rather give up on wireless charging, than opt for a “Galaxy-like” glass back. It’s just a subjective view, and it could of course change over time, but now I stand with the previous statement.

That leads us to the supposed Nokia 9. Bezel-less display, waterproofness and latest Snapdragon 835 together with + 6/8GB RAM were the rumored features of Nokia 9 we heard so far. Wireless charging was not mentioned, neither the material that will be used to make the body of the device. That leaves us with a lot of room to speculate what will and discuss what we think HMD should do in terms of materials and wireless charging.

Nokia 5 with aluminum unibody

I see the light in Qualcomm’s WiPower technology and Rezence standard. In 2015, Qualcomm demoed wireless charging on a phone with a metal housing, and bragged how that was world’s first demo of such kind. Since 2015 and that demo, we didn’t hear a lot about WiPower and the new Rezence standard that should allow wireless charging on aluminum-made phone housings. Now that Apple is stepping up the wireless game and using “Qi”, an open source standard supported by Lumia phones, surely Qualcomm will follow with its technology or become obsolete in that field.

Nokia 9 with WiPower wireless charging means that it won’t be compatible with Qi standard equipment, because they work differently.  Considering that Apple opted for Qi, HMD using Rezence will need to be followed by a big push for Rezence-compatible chargers, because everyone (Samsung and Apple at least) use Qi. That would make a WiPower Nokia 9 not compatible with all the chargers companies will start installing to attract iPhone users. Remember what happened to the PMA wireless charging standard? You probably don’t, because Qi standard took the scene long before the PMA become known. Also, Snapdragon 835 supports WiPower wireless charging, but also QuickCharge 4, and we didn’t see either on the Nokia 8 powered by it.

Nokia 8

If HMD opted for WiPower, we would probably have a device with aluminum body and wireless charging, but our wireless chargers would be limited to the one specially made for the device with Rezence standard. On the other hand, opting for Qi means choosing glass or polycarbonate as the primarily material on the phones back. Ditching wireless charging would make an upcoming flagship not competitive in that field. Maybe HMD could think of some polycarbonate patch on the back of aluminum Nokia 9 body to enable Qi wireless charging?

Wireless charging is cool, and with Apple it will be even cooler. It will probably be a “must have” feature starting next year and HMD needs to respond somehow. Down below, you can find a quick poll where we ask what do you think HMD should do in terms of wireless charging.



What do you think HMD should do in terms of material the phone is made of and wireless charging?

Follow the trend: Glass back (Aluminum/Titanium frame) + Qi Wireless charging
Be true to Nokia legacy: Polycarbonate (Aluminum/Titanium frame) + Qi Wireless charging
Wireless charging is not important; The housing needs to be of metal
Aluminum and WiPower wireless charging (not compatible with Qi)
Aluminum and some Nokia engineering magic to make it Qi compatible
Other (say in comments below)

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As always, we encourage you to elaborate your vote or state a different point of view regarding this topic in the comments down below. ?