Everyone has experienced that moment when they realise their mobile device is running out of battery and they need to charge it up. What follows is a desperate search for a power socket, a hunt through bags for the right cables and constantly watching the device to see how it is doing. At airports where devices must be charged in order to get through security, the need to charge devices is just another stress point.
In the press release Alex Katouzian, senior vice president, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc said: “We are significantly enhancing the capabilities and benefits offered by Quick Charge 3.0 to bring robust fast charging technology to all. Quick Charge 3.0 addresses a primary consumer challenge with today’s mobile devices in helping users restore battery life quickly and efficiently, and does so through leading technology and a robust ecosystem including leading device and accessory OEMs.”
The challenge of faster phone charging
The problem with trying to charge batteries quickly is that they generate heat. Too much heat and you get devices too hot to handle and on exceptionally rare occasions you get fire. To put the latter in context, almost all the reported battery fires in mobile devices over the last 5 years have been caused by replacement batteries that were not designed for faster charging.
To deal with this battery manufacturers have been developing a range of ultra-fast chargers that allow batteries, especially Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) to fast charge to 70%. At that point they slow the charge rate to help dissipate heat and prevent thermal runaway.
The current generation of ultra-fast chargers means that we have reached the point where a lot of phones and mobile devices can get from zero to around 75% within 1 hour. That speed, of course, depends heavily on the size of the battery and how much energy is required to charge it.
What is Qualcomm announcing?
Qualcomm has had its own Quick Charge technology for faster phone charging for some time now. The latest version of that technology, Quick Charge 3.0, was announced overnight in Hong Kong and appears to be a significant improvement on the previous generation.
In its press release, Qualcomm has said that Quick Charge 3.0 will:
- Support Intelligent Negotiation for Optimum Voltage (INOV) to allow the device to determine what power level it requires from the charger. It will ensure that devices can deal with a wider range of voltage options from 3.6v to 20v
- Be up to 38% more efficient that Quick Charge 2.0
- Charge 2x faster than Quick Charge 1.0
- Charge a ‘typical’ mobile phone from zero to 80% in 38 minutes (no definition given of typical or of the size of the battery)
Qualcomm has said that Quick Charge 3.0 will be backwardly compatible with previous generations making it easy for OEMs to install into their devices.
Given the voltage support, it is clear that this is not just about mobile phones even though the announcement was part of a number around the next generation of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor family. Qualcomm is already providing its chips for a variety of different non handset devices and Quick Charge 3.0 will be attractive to many of its new customers.
In August, Pocket-lint published an article looking at future battery technologies that would deliver extended life and reduce charge time to minutes. Many of those technologies will probably not see the light of day in commercial terms. Until they do so, Qualcomm believes that it can beat other manufacturers when it comes to ultra-fast charging of mobile devices.