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Report: Nokia to join Qi party with wireless-charging Lumia 920

Watch out, WiPower...

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Nokia's next phones will have wireless charging, claims The Verge, and the Finns are joining the Qi camp in the increasingly polarised battle for over wireless standards.

The Verge claims to have leaked specifications for Nokia's flagship Lumia 920 handset, revealing that it will have Qi-compatible wireless charging and a 4.5-inch display as well as being branded PureView despite having only 8 Megapixels in the camera, though we won't know for certain until tomorrow when Nokia is set to reveal all.

The use of wireless charging might justify Nokia's teaser video, which claims "Things are about to change" with tomorrow's date accompanied by a carefree cyclist. Embracing Qi would have the added advantage of annoying Samsung, not to mention poking one in the eye of the Auld Enemy: Qualcomm.

When Samsung launched the Galaxy SIII it claimed wireless power as a feature, and launched the "Alliance for wireless power" incorporating Qualcomm's WiPower standard into a new Alliance forged to fight against the dominance of the "Wireless Power Consortium" and their Qi standard.

Qi has been around for a while, gaining the name and logo back in 2009. The Qi standard came out of water filtration units, which needed wireless power, and has been widely endorsed but despite RIM and Energizer putting their names to the standard devices are still rare.

Qualcomm bought competing tech WiPower in 2010 and started quietly negotiating with manufacturers to get the technology embedded in their kit. Qualcomm argues that the additional range of WiPower (which can charge devices up to 45mm away) opens the possibility for "grazing" devices which are never intentionally recharged - a charger embedded in a chair could charge a device in a pocket, another in the car door would keep it topped up, so the user would never think about charging again.

It's a nice idea, so nice that the Qi standard was promptly extended to embrace the same functionality. Meanwhile Samsung has failed to bring out the wireless charger for the SIII, which will also need a replacement back panel and battery.

Realistically there probably isn't room for two standards, which are incompatible, so one is going to disappear. When the Alliance was launched we said that if Samsung backed it wholeheartedly, and quickly, then it could become the surviving standard, but four months after the launch there's no schedule for products and even the Galaxy SIII is still reliant on a cable for power.

If Nokia is embracing Qi then that will probably be enough to tip the balance in favour of the Consortium, particularly given Intel's latest promise to embed wireless charging into its tech - Intel is even less likely to adopt a Qualcomm-backed standard than Nokia is. Even if the Lumia isn't a big seller, the publicity and visibility it will provide for Qi should be enough to make everyone forget there was ever an alternative, if indeed there ever was. ®

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