Wireless charging on Nokia's upcoming Lumias isn't going to come cheap

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| October 12, 2012

Back at the beginning of September, when Nokia took the stage in New York to unveil its latest work, the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820, we all were in awe. The Lumia 920 is arguably the best Windows Phone 8 device we've seen yet. It hosts specifications comparable to its biggest Android competitors and some features that are above and beyond, like built-in wireless charging and a PureView camera with optical image stabilization and superior low-light performance.

PureView we know will be great. Despite a marketing snafu quickly following the announcement, several sites have put the Lumia 920 through its paces and have done several comparison shots in various conditions: low light, shaky video and well-lit stills. To be frank, the Lumia 920 PureView camera is very impressive and it rivals the best smartphone cameras to date (except for maybe the 808 PureView).

The other noteworthy feature of the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820, wireless charging, may not be as awesome as we originally hoped. As it seems, Nokia is repeating history and bringing nothing new to the table.

Nokia isn't the first to delve into wireless charging in the mobile industry. Palm beat Nokia to the punch by a good three years with the Touchstone accessory for the webOS-powered Pre and Pre Plus. The Touchstone itself costs $69.99 and did only one thing: charge. Being one of the first of its kind, it was a neat thing to have, and a leg-up over Palm's competitors. But it faced some terrible issues, like causing devices to overheat and cracking the display on some.

Then there was Powermat, which sold inductive battery doors and wireless charging pads for a wide array of phones. Again, price was a rather large hurdle. The battery doors started at $20 each, and devices without removable batteries required a $30 inductive case instead. On top of that, the customer would have to purchase the Powermat itself, which originally started at $99.99. To charge a single phone, the customer would have to pay $120, a price that is hardly worth the benefit to the average consumer.

Both Touchstone and Powermat seemed promising at first, allowing users to quit using cables and just place your phone on a stand or mat to charge for a while. However, Touchstone failed miserably and two years later, Duracell's Powermat has hardly made it off the starting line.

Sadly, it doesn't seem as if Nokia has learned anything from the companies who have tried to pave the path for wireless charging. On Wednesday, WMPoweruser reported that Clove UK received pricing on several Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 accessories. They are as follows:

  • Nokia Lumia 820 wireless charging shell – $26.68 USD( £16.66)
  • Nokia Lumia 820/920 wireless charging plate – $78.2 USD (£48.83)
  • Nokia Lumia 820/920 wireless charging stand – $93.40 USD (£58.32)
  • Nokia Lumia 820/920 wireless charging pillow by Fatboy – $128 USD (£66.66)
  • Nokia JBL Playup portable wireless speaker – $192 USD (£120.83)

For those unaware, the Lumia 820 requires a special back plate that adds the wireless charging capabilities. In order to wirelessly charge the 820, you will have to purchase the charging shell for approximately $26.68 and the charging plate or stand for roughly $78.20 or $93.40, respectively. That means you will have to spend at least $104.88 (plus tax) to be able to charge your Lumia 820 phone wirelessly.

It all boils down to one simple fact. People do want wireless charging. Being able to charge an arsenal of mobile devices without a mess of wires and cables is a novel idea – nirvana for the mobile device hoarder. But few are ever going to spend upwards of $100 just to charge a phone they only paid $100 or $200 (with subsidization) for. Not to mention, that's only to charge the phone wirelessly in one specific place. Unless you buy more than one or pack up your Fatboy every time you go somewhere, you will have to purchase more than one to charge wirelessly away from your desk or night stand.

I needed a fix for my desk, where I tend to constantly charge multiple phones, tablets and other gadgets. But I found a great solution for around $20. As nerdy and awesome as wireless charging may be, it will struggle to gain traction until someone can bring the prices down for the end user.

There is some hope that these prices will translate a bit differently once the accessories officially launch; prices always seem to vary some when launching overseas. And we can hope that Nokia will offer some incentive to Lumia 820 and 920 buyers, like a discount on wireless charging accessories with the purchase of the phone. But I'm not getting my hopes up just yet. Nokia has shot itself in the foot over and over … and over. I'm not comfortable giving the Finnish firm the benefit of a doubt this time around.

Tell me, ladies and gents, would you be willing to spend upwards of $100 for a wireless charging dock for your phone? Or are you willing ot pass up that feature? Do you, like me, hope inductive charging becomes a bit more viable, cost efficient and eventually becomes a standard?

Products mentioned