Apple tweaked the Qi charging standard so that Apple Watch only works with its own chargers

BY Killian Bell

Published 20 Nov 2015

Apple Watch official dock

Apple Watch uses the Qi wireless charging standard to negate the need for Lightning ports and cables, but you may have noticed that the device won’t charge on any Qi charger. That’s because Apple has tweaked the technology to ensure that Watch only works with its own accessories.

Although we already suspected that Apple had made this move, it was confirmed this week after the company started selling the new Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Dock, priced at $79. That’s pricey for a wireless charger — even one this pretty — but you won’t find a cheaper third-party alternative.

That’s because even though Apple Watch uses the Qi charging standard, Apple has modified it to ensure that it doesn’t work with any Qi charger you might buy on Amazon for $10; it will only work with Apple’s own charger, or those certified by Apple.

“The Apple Watch charger that comes with the device is Qi based, but the firm decided not to submit it for interoperability testing,” John Perzow, VP of market development at the Qi consortium, told The Register. “I think they are using version 1.1.2 of Qi, but the software stack has been altered so that only Apple’s charger works with Watch.”

Unfortunately, this is another example of Apple making things more difficult and more expensive for the consumer to increase revenues. The profit margin is likely pretty high on the new Magnetic Charging Dock, and Apple’s measures ensures you can’t buy a cheaper alternative elsewhere.

This is a shame now that the Qi standard is so common. As noted by The Register, you can now buy furniture with Qi charging pads built-in; you’ll find them in hotels and cafes and airports; and Qi charging accessories are becoming incredibly cheap.

And yet, you can’t use Apple Watch with any of them. I’ve been unable to charge my Watch with any of my Qi charging pads — and I have several from different manufacturers — but my Apple Watch charger will charge some Qi-compatible phones, confirming this is a Watch issue.