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Wireless charging on the Galaxy S4: Samsung goes VHS not Betamax

'A harmless fling', sniffs jilted Qualcomm

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Samsung's Galaxy S4 smartphone will use the Qi wireless charging standard, putting Sammy in bed with the Consortium for Wireless Power despite its avowed commitment to the Alliance for Wireless Power it founded with Qualcomm.

The decision to use Qi charging in the S4, now confirmed by Samsung, could critically wound the alliance, which still hasn't managed to get its designs into any products. Gadgets and chargers using the consortium's electronics will be incompatible with products that end up using the alliance's tech.

With Samsung seduced away by the cool kids - Google, Nokia and BlackBerry are all backing the consortium - El Reg wouldn't be surprised if the alliance never manages to get its over-the-air charging tech into shipping gear. This is probably good news for shoppers, who won't have to worry about the compatibility problems which threatened to forestall the entire concept - even if it means killing off something which is, arguably, a better technology.

The consortium's Qi logo was spotted during the S4 launch this month. But getting confirmation out of the various parties involved has taken a while, not least on the matter of the replacement phone case S4 owners will be required to fit to use the wireless charging. This case has neither a launch schedule nor a price, but we do know it won't support the recently published standard from the Alliance For Wireless Power (A4WP).

Not that the alliance is going quietly. It's still clinging to Samsung's promise of fidelity like a loyal spouse defending a rocky relationship on the doorstep of the family home.

“As a founding member, Samsung has been very active in driving key milestones forward and has publicly stated it has chosen A4WP as its long-term wireless power technology," said the group, before going on to explain that its own standard is technically superior and will eventually dominate despite the occasional dalliance by the likes of Samsung.

But this is not the first time Samsung has declared support for a technology only to kick it onto the long grass as soon as something prettier turns up. The Wireless Application Community and the LiMO Foundation are just two of the many notches in the Samsung bedpost, not that Samsung boasts of its previous partners, preferring to move swiftly on to the next relationship.

The alliance has other partners, but none offering the production scale of Samsung. The South Korean giant could have pushed A4WP's tech across the entire consumer-electronics industry, rather than just phones.

Not that the Galaxy S4 mobiles shipping at the moment actually support any wireless charging yet, and it's worth remembering that a replacement case was promised, and demonstrated, for the Galaxy S3 but never materialised - we asked Samsung if the S3 case will ever be available, but the company isn't saying.

So it's theoretically possible that Samsung will perform another volte-face and return to the arms of its loyal partner Qualcomm. If it doesn't, the battle for wireless charging is all over, bar the boardroom shouting matches and the arrival of the patent lawyers, nether of which will kick off properly until the public decides if wireless charging is something they want. ®

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