Wireless charging has been gaining popularity and more companies are realizing its potential. But the real boost in the adoption of wireless charging came when Apple decided to adopt Qi and join the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC). However, the rapid growth of wireless charging adoption has led to many low-quality, counterfeit products that are potentially unsafe. This is where the value of Qi certification comes in.
Let’s start with the basics of Qi certification; what does it mean and why is it relevant? Qi is a global standard like Bluetooth, NFC, USB and WiFi. The idea behind Qi is that all certified devices are compatible with all certified chargers. This eliminates the need for separate chargers, cables or adapters, particularly once Qi-certified chargers become more prevalent outside of individual homes. Imagine not needing to bring a charger when you travel, because your hotel will have one pre-installed. Or never needing to worry about your battery while at a sporting event, restaurant or other public space, because charging stations are readily available.
Official Qi certification testing
Products using the Qi standard must be tested rigorously to ensure safety, interoperability and energy efficiency. Only products that have passed the required tests by an independent laboratory can use the Qi logo and are considered “Qi-certified.” All tests are performed only by independent WPC Authorized Test Labs with the use of validated test equipment.
During compliance testing, the new product is tested to ensure it is compliant with the official Qi specification. During interoperability testing, the new product is tested for compatibility with a wide span of existing Qi certified products. This ensures that all new products are ‘‘backwards compatible’’ across existing Qi products.
The WPC mandates interoperability testing with previously certified products before the Qi certificate is approved in order to ensure all Qi products work together. One of the authorized Test Labs, located in Belgium, has more than 400 off-the-shelf mobile devices available for Qi cross-compatibility testing.
Official Qi logo
The risks of a non-Qi-certified wireless charger
You may not have been aware that Qi is a standard requiring certification, so do you really need to worry about it? Yes! Using non-Qi-certified chargers may be dangerous, as uncertified wireless chargers, which are often labeled with terms like “Qi compatible” or “Qi enabled” rather than “Qi certified,” may not meet the necessary protection features.
Risk of injury
The Qi certification includes Foreign Object Detection (FOD) measures. This means that for Qi certified products, the transmitter of the wireless charging system can detect if, for example, a piece of metal is located on its surface. In this case, the transmitter either does not start charging at all or it stops charging. If a wireless charger does not have FOD or if FOD does not work well, objects that are placed in close proximity to the wireless charger, or between the charger and the phone (like your car keys or headphones), may get very hot. This can cause serious injuries, including third degree burns.
Risk of device damage
The Qi specification includes measures that limit the voltages wireless chargers induce in other mobile devices. A non-certified wireless charger that is not designed properly may induce high voltages inside mobile devices when they are placed in close proximity to the charger. These high voltages can cause damage to your device.
The Qi specification also features magnetic shielding of the battery to minimize heating of the battery and mobile phone. Overheated chargers damage the battery itself and shorten battery life. Temperatures reaching or exceeding 100 °C can potentially cause serious damage to the surfaces in contact with an uncertified charger. It may even cause your phone case to melt, which may damage your phone.
Risk of incompatibility
A big part of the idea behind Qi is that all Qi products are interoperable; any Qi certified mobile device works with any Qi certified wireless charger. Products that are not certified may be incompatible with other wireless charging products.
Recognizing a Qi-certified product
How do you know if a product is really Qi certified? There are several indicators that you can use to find out whether you are dealing with a counterfeit product or an official Qi product.
- Check the Qi certification database – all Qi certified products can be found in this database. A product is Qi certified if you find a match for the brand name, product name, and type number.
- Check whether the company is member of the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) – only companies that are members of the WPC and signed the Qi logo license agreement can certify a product.
- Always look for the Qi logo – the Qi logo can only be used legally for products that have Qi certification.
- Pay attention to the Qi claim that is made – being “Qi certified’’ is the only official claim. Claims like ‘Qi compliant’, ‘Qi compatible’ or ‘works with Qi’ may indicate the product has not undergone official Qi certification testing.