16Sep 2015

There were several releases in the last day covering fast charging, and in particular, Qualcomm’s evolution of its power delivery mechanism called Quick Charge 3.0. This is quite exciting because it elevates the power delivery — i.e., the circuitry that delivers the high current from the wall socket to your smartphone — to a new level of efficiency.  Why does it matter? Two operative words: HEAT and COST. An explanation follows.

Fast charging a smartphone entails delivering somewhere between 15 and 20 Watts to the mobile device from the AC adapter at the wall socket. This is about 3 or 4 times the power delivered by the standard 5-Watts AC adapter. So even a small inefficiency — technical jargon for a loss of power along the way — can now result in serious overheating of the smartphone. Qualcomm’s QC 3.0 cleverly negotiates the proper power voltage across the USB cable to minimize these losses. Secondly, building AC adapters that can deliver 20 Watts can become very expensive, that is unless the voltage is raised. This is similar to why overhead transmission lines from the utility companies operate at high voltages. Kudos to Qualcomm for leading the pack here on higher-voltage power delivery protocols.

Qnovo announced in parallel with Qualcomm our companion software adaptive charging product called Qnovo QNS. A snippet of the announcement is below. What does it mean?

QNS2

The primary question with fast charging the battery is what happens to the health of the battery? QC 3.0 addresses bringing the power to the terminals of the battery. QNS complements QC 3.0 to ensure that the battery health is maintained. In other words, by combining QC 3.0 and Qnovo QNS, one can fast charge AND rest that the battery life and health will not be compromised.  Qualcomm QC 3.0 deals primarily with the power segment between the wall socket and the terminals of the battery. Qnovo QNS deals with “how” this power is inserted into the battery. Together, QC 3.0 and QNS are designed to interface with each other without any hiccups, and complement each other in an end-to-end solution optimized for the smartphone OEMs.

Can one use one of these two technologies without the other? sure, a smartphone OEM has that option, but it is the combination of the two products that gives the smartphone OEM and the end consumer the desired benefit: that is fast charging and long battery life and health. Why compromise?