“This is the new connector for many years to come,” Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior VP, told AllThingsD in an interview after the iPhone 5’s unveiling. Apple’s decision to not include NFC and wireless charging, technologies that have been used as buzzwords in marketing campaigns by Apple’s biggest competitors, is raising quite a few eyebrows. Neither NFC nor wireless charging is a new technology in cellphones – Nokia had introduced NFC in one of its phones way back in 2006 while Palm certainly tried its luck with wireless charging with the Pre in 2009. There are reasons why neither of these technologies have made mainstream and that’s exactly why Apple is staying away from them. Also Read - After Xiaomi, Motorola shows off its over-the-air charging technology
Let’s take NFC first. The basic reason for it not catching up is compatibility. What’s the point of having NFC chips in a smartphone when it can only work with other devices made by the same vendor? The absence of having a set standard (there is one but it seems vendors try to limit compatibility to their own products) means that users never know which feature would work and which won’t when it comes to real-life usage. Also Read - Xiaomi's new Mi Air Charge wireless charging tech is 'truly wireless': Here's how it works
Without going into details about why the concept of mobile wallets has not left Japan yet, NFC is used only as a handshake enabler. Eventually, the real action for which the user tapped a NFC tag or another NFC-enabled phone happens either over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Unless there is a real use-case for NFC (pairing Bluetooth headsets or getting hold of a URL) there is no reason for adding another chip in a device. Also Read - Apple working on a fix for the iPhone 12 wireless charging problem
Coming to wireless charging, well, the phrase ‘wireless charging’ itself is misleading. All wireless chargers have wires. Period. Would you rather carry just a USB cable that can connect to your PC, wall plug and even in airplanes or carry a charging pad with its own cable that also takes more time to charge? It is not that difficult to choose, right?
Wireless charging is nothing but a cool gimmick, at least for now. It is not really targeted for personal use. Instead, technologists would like to believe that a couple of years down the line, it will become a common technology and we could have public places with surfaces that double up as chargers for all of our portable devices. (For the record, the wireless charging pad for the Lumia 920 does not come with the phone and has to be bought separately. I wonder how many people would buy one along with the phone.)
As things stand right now, I would rather prefer a sleeker phone with features I can and want to use rather than having one where most of the features being offered are merely present as a gimmick that I’d lose interest within a week. And Apple understands that. The question you should be asking before buying a phone on the basis of specifications is what you can do with it and whether that is something you would use regularly. Things will become much clearer.
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