Apple didn’t invent or create Qi wireless charging and was actually one of the last major phone manufacturers to include wireless charging in their phones. Apple doesn’t even have an official branded Qi wireless charging pad of its own. Apple doesn’t really have anything to do with Qi charging, and inductive charging in general, except when you start to look at the bigger picture.
The Qi charging standard for inductive charging changed the landscape of smartphones as we knew it, and when it comes to the future of all phones — iPhone included — the technology has a ton to offer.
A brief history of Qi wireless charging
Qi is an open interface that is used for wireless power transfer via inductive charging that was developed by the Wireless Power Consortium. That’s a fancy way of saying it’s a bunch of companies that work together to promote the use of Qi wireless charging around the world.
Qi is a standard for inductive charging, but there were other organizations competing with Qi for a while. The biggest competitor was likely the Power Matters Alliance. Qi has largely “won” the wireless charging war. as now Qi wireless charging is available in many smartphones from almost every major phone manufacturer. Of course, it all started with one.
Remember Windows Phone? Qi wireless charging sure does
While Qi was “invented” in 2008, the first widely-available phone to adopt the Qi standard and feature wireless charging was the Nokia Lumia 920 in 2012. The Samsung Galaxy S3 (also made available in 2012) was Qi wireless charging compatible with an additional accessory, but Nokia put it into the phone itself.
Fun fact: The picture above is so old, it still has the watermark from when our sister site, Windows Central, was called Windows Phone Central — where has the time gone!
2012 marks the year when the idea of charging your phone with a cable plugged into your device started to become a thing of the past. Suddenly, you could put your phone down on a charging pad and watch the battery percentage go up — it was kind of like magic.
What does this have to do with Apple?
Look, it’s no secret that Apple was a little late to the Qi wireless charging game. It didn’t include inductive charging into its iPhone lineup until the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X was released in the fall of 2017, and by that point, plenty of other companies had been including it in their phones for a few years.
The benefit of Apple waiting a bit longer is that the company avoided the brief period where multiple wireless charging standards were prominent. Adopting the Qi standard once it came out on top was an easy decision, plus with the iPhone X being the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, a big design overhaul made a lot of sense. Regardless of why or why not Apple waited, Apple getting into the Qi wireless charging game is a big win for everyone, not just Apple users.
Regardless of whether you love or hate the iPhone, it’s one of the top-selling smartphones around the world. Lots of people use it every day, and therefore, when a company like Apple adopts new technology, the industry follows suit.
The adoption of Qi wireless charging has rapidly increased over the last few years. Airports have charging pads all over. IKEA makes lamps that have built-in Qi charging pads; even Starbucks includes tables with charging pads inside so you can enjoy your java and charge your phone. I’m not saying this growth is entirely because of Apple ( that would be a ridiculous claim), but it’s contribution certainly didn’t hurt.
What will Qi do for the future?
Recently, the internet went crazy when the rumor was reported that by 2021 the iPhone might have absolutely no ports at all. The headphone jack has been gone a while now, but this would mean the Lightning port would also be gone. There is absolutely no way this would even be in the realm of possibility if Qi wireless charging hadn’t made its way into the smartphone world back in 2012.
Of course, this is just a rumor, and that doesn’t mean changing to a portless design wouldn’t be without its problems. Over the air updates and device data recovery can be tricky but put all your doubt away for a second and think of what this could mean for the future.
Wireless charging, as of right now, is only so fast, but it’s getting faster — and something like a portless phone would only encourage development in these areas. Waterproofing phones without ports is easier (and less expensive to some degree), charging devices with other devices (like you can with Samsung’s flagship) would become even more useful, and likely prominent. The future is pretty bright for a world where Qi wireless charging reigns supreme.
None of it would be possible without the Qi wireless charging standard being included in the Lumia 920 in 2012.
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Rene Ritchie’s gadget of the decade: Apple Watch
In my Apple Watch Series 5 review, I said that the addition of always-on took it from being the best smartwatch in the world to being the best damn watch period. And, three months later, I stand by that. Absolutely. 100 percent. But, it’s also something more: Not just the best watch of the year, but the best gadget of the decade.
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Google Tensor SoC And Pixel 6 Benchmarks Show Google’s Intentions For Building Its Own SoC – Forbes
We recently covered some of the details around Google’s Tensor SoC at the launch of the Pixel 6 and Tensor SoC that Google had. But now the embargo for reviews has lifted and I’ve had an opportunity to test the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro’s tensor SoC. Many people believe that Google’s Tensor SoC is more akin to a Samsung Exynos semi-custom design and according to some code that Anandtech’s Andrei Frumusanu found, it probably is along those lines. It seems odd that Google would try to claim the SoC as their own even though Samsung is heavily involved in the manufacturing and modem and likely some of the chip design as well. Nevertheless, Google’s intentions with the Tensor SoC is to derive some of the AI performance and intelligence that it has created with the TPU and bring that down into a mobile SoC. Google claimed that nobody in the market was creating chips that satisfied Google’s needs for AI performance, so they created their own.
It has been covered numerous times, but just as a refresher the Tensor SoC is a combination of off-the-shelf ARM CPU cores and GPU cores combined with Google’s own TPU and ISP. Google hasn’t really given details about the TPU or ISP’s full capabilities, but that’s what benchmarks and reviews are for. I had a chance to use the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6 for the last week or so and the camera performance genuinely lives up to what people expect out of a flagship smartphone. However, I still wanted to benchmark the device to assess the chip’s actual performance against some of the most notable Android competition. One note, the Galaxy S21 Ultra in the US ships with a Snapdragon 888 and not an Exynos 2100 like many other parts of the world. Additionally, the RedMagic 6S Pro that I tested is the only Snapdragon 888+ device.
Benchmark tests & Methodology
For my testing, I ran GeekBench, GeekBench ML, 3DMark Wildlife, 3DMark Wildlife Stress Test and PCMark. I chose GeekBench because it’s a simple CPU benchmark and can show how Google’s decision to go with two Cortex X1 cores and two A76 cores instead of one X1 and three A78s affected overall CPU performance. To Google’s point, the company has said that it does not actually care about individual SoC component tests but rather a complete system AI test. And when you consider how few AI benchmarks are out there and ones that are easy to run, GeekBench ML was an easy decision. The important part in choosing GeekBench ML was not to test CPU or GPU performance individually, but instead to test them together using the NNAPI test which is Google’s own API that it uses for ML acceleration. This feels like the perfect test to use to compare AI performance across devices, especially since it does multiple types of ML workloads and tests FP32, INT16 and INT8 performance. 3DMark was important because it is cross-platform and the standard for 3D graphics performance, especially in gaming. I also chose to use the stress test because thermal throttling is a real problem with some mobile SoCs and sustained performance is more relevant than a 60 second benchmark. After that, I wanted to run something that was more of a system-level benchmark that considers all the different types of usages a user might have so I ran PCMark for Android. All benchmarks were run at least 3 times to normalize scores for any kind of variance except for 3DMark Wildlife Stress Test since it runs a 20-loop test. Also, the ZTE/Nubia RedMagic 6S Pro has an active cooled fan that automatically runs whenever graphically intensive applications are open, so it did turn on the fan for the 3DMark and PCMark tests but not for the GeekBench results. Additionally, I turned off benchmark boosting mode on the ASUS and Snapdragon Insider devices. Final note, all Pixel devices are running the latest version of Android 12 while the others are still on Android 11, which may represent a small performance difference.
Geekbench runs a single core and multi-core benchmark to test CPU performance. In this benchmark, we see that the Pixel 5 by far performs the worst in all tests, which sets Google up to show a significant improvement in performance from one generation to the next if the Tensor SoC is competitive with the rest of the market. Otherwise, Single Core performance across all the devices is roughly within 10% of each other, which makes sense since the Snapdragon 888, Snapdragon 888+ and Google Tensor all use the same ARM Cortex X1 big core. The multicore results are also not surprising, showing that a single X1 with three A78 cores generally does better than two X1 cores with two A76 cores. In our testing, the majority of Snapdragon 888 and 888+ devices scored a solid 20% faster CPU score.
This benchmark was the benchmark I was most interested in running because GeekBench ML does test both CPU and GPU, neither of which I was interested in testing. Instead, I ran the NNAPI benchmark which uses TensorFlow Lite as the ML framework and is Google’s default API for machine learning applications. This would also serve as a good test of Google’s claim that the market simply was not producing devices that meet its requirements for AI performance. However, we didn’t really see Google’s claims really stack up, unless you consider Google’s decision to downgrade AI performance on the Pixel 5 when going from the Pixel 4’s Snapdragon 855. The ‘AI Engine’ in the Snapdragon 855 is capable of up to 7 TOPS while the ‘AI Engine’ in the 765G has 5.5 so, it comes as no surprise that Google’s Tensor SoC would look like a huge improvement compared to a downgrade in performance. Additionally, while there is no doubt that Google’s Tensor SoC delivered the fastest NNAPI performance across all the Snapdragon 888 devices, the difference in performance was between 2% and 7% depending on the device. To me, this small of a difference in AI performance indicates that Google’s efforts to build a Tensor SoC with Samsung feels like more of a cost-saving and roadmap certainty decision than a performance one. Additionally, it might not even be a cost-saving measure if Google is spending too much money building the Tensor SoC and doesn’t sell enough devices to amortize that cost across enough chips. Nonetheless, Google’s Tensor is now the AI performance top dog for Android. Also, ASUS needs to do something about its NNAPI performance because both the ROG Phone 5 and Snapdragon Insider Phone are vastly underperforming against the other Snapdragon 888 devices.
3DMark Wildlife produced some surprising results and some not so surprising results. One of the surprising results was that the Pixel 5 really is performing quite poorly despite running Android 12 just like the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro and the GPU is simply being outclassed. Almost all the Snapdragon devices performed the same within a few percentage points, but the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 6 performed exceptionally well with benchmarks as high as almost 20% higher than the fastest Snapdragon device. This was somewhat unexpected, so I decided to see if this was ‘bursty’ performance or sustained, which led me to run the 3DMark Wildlife Stress Test.
3DMark Wildlife Stress Test
This test was designed to figure out which devices have great peak GPU performance which devices have great sustained GPU performance. After all, nobody is playing games on their phones for only a minute or two and sustained GPU performance is relevant for applications like augmented reality as well. So, it came as a huge surprise to me to see how much the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro throttled compared to the rest of the devices. As you can see from the graph, the first bar is the initial test run and the second bar is the final test result after 20 loops. Unsurprisingly, the Redmagic 6S Pro had nearly no throttling which means that the little fan in that really does do its job in cooling the phone. If you look at the devices, they have been ordered from lowest to highest final test result, which indicates their ranking based on sustained performance. The difference in performance was so great that I actually had to notate these percentages and graph them.
As you can sort of tell from the graph, the Pixel 6 Pro throttled its GPU performance by over 50% at 58.3% while the Pixel 6 throttled at a more moderate 45%. The other Snapdragon 888 devices throttled anywhere from 24 to 36%. However, the Pixel 5 only throttled by 0.7% and the Redmagic 6S Pro with its active cooling only throttled an equally impressive 1%. To me, this means that Google’s GPU performance, while initially impressive, does have issues with longer term use and isn’t really viable for anything other than limited bursty GPU workloads. This means that gaming performance on the Pixel 6 Pro is worse than most of the flagship phones and the Pixel 6 is roughly on par.
PCMark for Android is a good test because it tries to emulate a series of day-to-day tasks that a user might do on a device and tests them. As you can see, the Google Pixel 5, 6 and 6 Pro score the lowest across all the other devices. The Pixel 5 is the most obvious underperformer, but the ROG Phone 5 also performs roughly as well as the Pixel 6 devices do. That said, the performance difference between the Pixel 6 devices ranges anywhere between 1% to 37% depending on the device.
In the end, Google’s Tensor SoC inside of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro appears to be a very big first step for Google in partnership with Samsung. While it remains to be seen where Google goes with the Tensor SoC in the future and how much more customization the company does, it is quite clear that the company for the most part has a flagship-class SoC that comes close to beating the competition in some aspects and wins in others. If Google’s goal was to go out and build the fastest chip for ML on an Android device, it seems like they may have done it. The performance difference between Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips does make one wonder if the Tensor project’s goal was really performance oriented or if it was more about cost and roadmap control. If Google doesn’t ship enough Pixels or other devices with the Tensor SoC, I’m not really sure how much of a cost saving exercise it would be to build a semi-custom chip.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.
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Here’s when your Google Pixel will get Android 12L – XDA Developers
At the Android Dev Summit yesterday, Google officially unveiled the first developer preview of Android 12L, a feature drop for Android 12 designed specifically for foldables, tablets, and large-screen devices.
While Android 12L primarily targets foldables, tablets, and Chrome OS devices, it will also make its way to phones. Google says for now it’s keeping the focus on foldables and Chrome OS devices, but it’ll be opening up beta enrollments for the Pixel lineup in December, starting with the first Android 12L beta release.
Here’s which Pixel phones will be getting the Android 12L beta in December:
- Pixel 6
- Pixel 6 Pro
- Pixel 5a 5G
- Pixel 5
- Pixel 4a (5G)
- Pixel 4a
- Pixel 4
Besides the Google Pixel lineup, Google has confirmed that the new software will also be made available to devices like the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Lenovo Tab P12 Pro. The first beta of Android 12L will arrive in December, followed by the second release in January and the third and final beta in February. The public release is slated for Q1 2022, likely around March.
As Mishaal Rahman points out, although the current developer preview build is API level 31, the Android 12L platform will use API level 32 once the APIs are finalized. However, it seems developers aren’t required to target the new API level when publishing apps on Google Play.
It seems the current Sv2/Android 12L build is still API level 31. Google says that the 12L platform will use API level 32 when the APIs are finalized. Developers are not required to target API level 32 to meet Google Play requirements.
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) October 27, 2021
Android 12L is currently available as a developer preview, and you can try it out by booting an Android 12L system image in the Android Emulator. The new version brings along several UI refinements and features to provide an improved software experience on foldables and tablets. The new features include a two-column layout for the notification shade and lockscreen, Activity Embedding, improved multitasking experience, and so on.
Featured image: Pixel 6 Pro
Redmi Watch 2 unveiled with 1.6" AMOLED display, cheap Redmi Buds 3 Youth Edition follow – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com
Today’s Redmi event introduced the new Note 11 series phones, along with the sequel to the Redmi Watch from last year as well as a Youth Edition of the Redmi Buds 3.
Redmi Watch 2
Xiaomi was able to slim down the bezels of the watch and to fit a larger screen – the Redmi Watch 2 boasts a 1.6” screen (up from 1.4”). Another upgrade is the switch to AMOLED (the old one had an IPS LCD). The screen became taller and its resolution is now 320 x 360 px.
The new Redmi Watch 2 has a 1.6″ AMOLED display (the original had a 1.4″ IPS LCD)
Efficiency also improved, so now the watch can last 12 days on a single charge, the original model had to be put in power saving mode to go that long (according to the official numbers). As before, charging is done with a magnetic connector.
The watch is powered by the Apollo 3.5 chipset and supports 117 different sports modes, including swim tracking. The watch body is rated for 5 ATM (50m) of water resistance. Additionally, it comes with the usual sleep tracking and heart rate monitoring, now a blood-oxygen (SpO2) sensor.
For outdoor activities the Redmi Watch 2 supports four global positioning systems – GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and BeiDou. Another connectivity feature is NFC.
Despite the larger display and improved battery, the watch itself is lighter – it is down four grams to 31g. Buyers can choose between 3 colors for the watch body and 6 colors for the TPU strap.
The Redmi Watch 2 is on pre-order now and will start shipping on November 11. Its regular price is CNY 400 ($63/€54/₹4,700), but early birds can snatch it up at a promotional price of CNY 350.
Redmi Buds 3 Youth Edition
These cost just CNY 100 ($16/€14/₹1,200), basically half of what the Buds 3 Pro cost (or as global users may know them, the Air Dots 3 Pro). These feature a “cats ear” design, which is intended to make the buds sit more comfortably and more securely in your ears.
The Redmi Buds 3 Youth Edition promise 18 hours of battery life, not quite as impressive as the 28 hours advertised by the Pro model. They still charge over USB-C and come with Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, though no ANC. The buds have basic IP54 water resistance to protect them against rain and sweat.
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