The NFC Forum - the body responsible for establishing NFC standards and its capabilities - has unveiled plans to fold wireless charging support into near-field communication technology.
Announced in May 2020, the forum has approved a new wireless charging specification ('WLC'), which should give devices the ability to charge other devices using a single antenna within their NFC chip. Currently, phones that support both NFC and wireless charging rely on two separate components, each dedicated to each feature.
In more recent years, manufacturers like Huawei and Samsung have showcased proprietary reverse wireless charging solutions, letting users power up other phones or wireless-charging-compliant accessories on the back of handsets like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S10+ (as depicted in the lead image of this article).
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The main reason phones ever forgo wireless charging is usually due to limited available space and the move to integrating both technologies into a single component could free up room for a larger battery or allow manufacturers to make thinner, lighter devices outright, not to mention one less component means one less potential point of failure.
The main caveat right now is that the proposed WLC standard supports four power transfer classes: 250, 500, 750 and 1000 milliwatts. Topping out at 1W, the standard wouldn't be well-suited to recharging the large battery of a modern smartphone - most standard Qi-based wireless chargers clock in at 5W and that's considered slow.
Instead, as outlined in the standard's specifications, the technology is more appropriate for recharging "low-power IoT devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, wireless earbuds, digital pens and other consumer devices."
Ahead of approval, the NFC Forum was trialling the technology as far back as 2019, however, now that the standard has been realised we should start to see devices out in the wild that boast the feature.
It's unlikely that existing devices with NFC will be able to be 'upgraded' to support the WLC standard but even phones that lack conventional wireless charging components may still offer the ability to recharge your smartwatch or headphones wirelessly, going forward - albeit slowly.