NFC just learned a new trick — wireless charging

Nfc Galaxy Buds Hero
Nfc Galaxy Buds Hero (Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The charging rate via NFC will be slow at 1W max.
  • This new charging method will allow smaller devices to take advantage of wireless charging.
  • Since NFC charging won't require an additional antenna for power transfer, it could help keep the cost of implementation down.

Wireless charging isn't new; however, in recent years, it has seen some changes. Now, NFC — yes, the thing that helps you make mobile payments — is getting in on the wireless charging game.

The NFC Forum recently approved the Wireless Charging Specification (WLC), that enables wireless charging capabilities of Near-Field Communication (NFC) chips. Before getting too excited, know that the charging rate will be slow, only up to 1W, so it won't be a viable power source for your phone. However, devices such as a smartwatch or wireless earbuds could make use of this. According to Koichi Tagawa, chair of NFC Forum:

The NFC Forum's Wireless Charging Technical Specification allows for wireless charging of small battery-powered devices like those found in many of the estimated 36 billion IoT devices in use today. NFC wireless charging is truly transformative because it changes the way we design and interact with small, battery-powered devices as the elimination of plugs and cords enables the creation of smaller, hermetically-sealed devices.

The WLC allows both the communication and charging to be handled by an individual NFC antenna. This can lower the barrier for devices to take advantage of this solution due to the less cost of additional parts, assuming NFC is being added anyways, as well as freeing up space within already small electronics.

Charging wirelessly that we are most familiar with is commonly done via Qi (RIP PMA) using a power source plugged into a wall and then receiving Qi coils within the device to charge. There is far more to the process than this, and if you are interested, you can learn all about it in this handy guide. While the NFC charging option is slow, especially considering the OnePlus 8 Pro can charge at 30W, and there's even reverse wireless charging at 5W like on the Samsung Galaxy S20 lineup, more options is never a bad thing.

Chris Wedel
Smart Home Writer
Chris Wedel is a fan of all things tech and gadgets. Living in rural Kansas with his wife and two young boys makes finding ways to get and stay online tricky. By utilizing his years of experience with the tech and mobile communications industries — success is assured. When not conquering connectivity challenges and testing new gadgets, he enjoys cruising a gravel road in his UTV with some good tunes.