Amidst all of the confusion around Apple’s iOS 13 release this year, it seems that the company has snuck another little “feature” into iOS 13.1 that could result in a decrease in charging speeds with certain wireless chargers.
As we reported yesterday, tests done in iOS 13.1 by ChargerLAB revealed that after installing iOS 13.1, the iPhone 11 models they were using started charging at only standard five-watt charging speeds, as opposed to the 7.5-watt speeds that were observed in iOS 13.0. While ChargerLAB only tested this with the new iPhone 11 models, we’ve now confirmed from our own testing that this is also the case with older iPhones as well.
The problem also seems to be confined to off-brand chargers like lower-quality Chinese-made charging pads, so if you own a charger from a reputable brand like Belkin or Mophie, chances are that you won’t experience this problem.
What’s Going On Here?
The Qi wireless charging standard is governed by an organization known as the Wireless Power Consortium, which publishes specifications on how wireless chargers should work, what types of safety features they are required to support, and things like how much power they can output.
The original baseline Qi standard, which is known as the Baseline Power Profile (BPP), only specifies charging rates of up to five watts. The Wireless Power Consortium has also had an Extended Power Profile (EPP) specification available since 2015 that supported charging rates of up to 15 watts, but for various reasons it wasn’t being widely adopted until early 2018.
So when Apple debuted wireless charging with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X back in 2017, it originally followed the standard BPP spec, allowing only five-watt charging for its devices. However, Apple also developed its own 7.5-watt specification, following the Qi EPP standard, which it added support for in iOS 11.2 a few weeks later.
When Apple unveiled wireless charging support on its new iPhones, it also announced partnerships with both Belkin and Mophie to produce charging pads that supported its own 7.5-watt standard. Other companies such as Native Union, Anker, and Logitech later came on board, producing wireless charging pads according to Apple’s specs.
Both Apple’s own specification, and the Qi EPP standard, require that chargers use “fixed-frequency voltage regulation.” This basically means that the charger must include circuitry that ensures that the wireless charging is provided in a way that doesn’t interfere with your iPhone’s radios and other electronics.
Since its more costly and complex to build a device with fixed-frequency voltage regulation, however, many off-brand Qi chargers can’t be bothered to build devices that attempt to regulate the output voltage frequencies at all. This has the side-effect of creating unnecessary RF interference, which would especially be problematic to something like an iPhone.
So it seems that what’s actually happened here is that Apple is simply holding to the Qi EPP standard, which requires that chargers use fixed-frequency voltage regulation. In fact, this may not even be entirely Apple’s choice — it seems likely that for the iPhone itself to be a Qi-certified device, it needs to only draw power from Qi-certified chargers.
How to Tell If Your Wireless Charger Is Affected
If you bought your wireless charger from an Apple Store or other mainstream electronics retailer, chances are that you won’t see any decrease in wireless charging performance.
As we’ve already noted, chargers sold in Apple Stores and those from reputable brands such as Belkin, Mophie, Native Union, Anker, and Logitech meet the necessary standards and will continue to charge an iPhone at 7.5 watts without any problems. We’ve also been able to confirm this in our own testing with several of the above brands as well as wireless chargers purchased from Xvida.
On the other hand, if you’re using a no-name wireless charger that you purchased from Amazon or in a discount electronics shop, you may find that your charging rates are slower — basically down to the same five-watt speeds that you would get if you used the charger that came in the box with your iPhone.
This may not be that big of a deal if you’re only using it for overnight charging, since 6-8 hours should be more than enough for even the slowest wireless charger to top up your iPhone. There are also apps you can find on the App Store, such as Ampere, that you can use to check your charging rate.
Keep in mind though that just because a wireless charger comes from a lesser-known company doesn’t mean that it’s not Qi certified. You can look up any wireless charger (or even receiver) in the Qi Certified Product Database to see whether it’s certified at all, and if so, whether it supports the Extended Power Profile.
We’d strongly recommend avoiding chargers entirely if they aren’t found in this database, as wireless chargers that don’t adhere properly to the Qi standards can cause a litany of other problems such as excessive heat generation that are much more serious than simply charging your iPhone more slowly.
On the other hand, however, if you find your charger listed but only with support for the Baseline Power Profile (BPP), it’s perfectly safe to use, but as of iOS 13.1 you may be limited to slower five-watt charging performance, although it’s worth noting that some chargers that were originally designed to adhere to Apple’s own wireless charging specs may not yet have been re-certified for the the Extended Power Profile, even though they technically support it just fine.