Market Insight

MWC 2016: A change in phase for the wireless charging market?

February 25, 2016

David Green David Green Research & Analysis Manager – Smart Utilities Infrastructure

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Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the biggest venue for new mobile phone handset launches each year.  Last year the event marked a breakthrough moment for wireless charging technology -- with huge handset launches, product announcements and a large presence on the show floor. This year was more about how this new market is shifting.

Following the launch on the Galaxy S6 last year, Samsung announced it would retain dual-mode Qi and PMA wireless charging in its Galaxy S7 and S7 edge smartphones.  The devices continue to be certified to 5 Watts (W) on both standards, but like the S6+ model in late 2015, a higher power rating (and therefore faster charging speed) can be unlocked when the device is placed on the Samsung fast-charging pad (around 8W) that can fully charge the device in just over two hours.  Samsung has also released a vertical charging pad with the new phone, although pricing and release dates have yet to be confirmed.

HP was the only major new entrant in the wireless charging arena, with dual-mode Qi and PMA standard receivers integrated into the company’s new Elite x3 smartphone.  HP already announced that a tri-modal transmitter will be included in one of their all-in-one desktop PCs later this year, demonstrating HP’s clear intention to bring the wireless charging experience across multiple device types.

Other wireless charging discussions focused on devices that did not offer wireless charging: for example, the ongoing wait for a Rezence-specification receiver for smartphones.  Product demonstrations were present once again on the show stands of technology suppliers, but many MWC attendees were surprised there was not even one major OEM demonstrating a production-ready mobile device with integrated magnetic-resonance wireless charging.  It appears that the laptop market will provide the first on-shelf solution for this technology, with product announcements expected in mid-2016.

Overall the wireless charging market seems to have shifted phase at MWC 2016.  If 2015 was about proof of concept, first device launches and product demonstrations, this year was more about behind-the-scenes news, such as new partnerships among stakeholders from semiconductors, system design and software – as Apple iPhone rumours on the inclusion of wireless charging continue to rumble on.

Even so, this year is sure to be a big year for wireless charging, as more consumers sample the technology; however, it could prove to be the “year of the wireless-charging laptop,” following last year’s focus on mobile phones.

More analysis from IHS: Wireless Power Intelligence Service

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