Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is shipping out to the masses, and people hoping to take advantage of the new Qi wireless charging capabilities have run into a big surprise. For some unexplained reason, Google is locking out third-party Qi chargers from reaching the highest charging speeds on the Pixel 3. Third-party chargers are capped to a pokey 5W charging speed.
If you want 10 watts of wireless charging, Google hopes you will invest in its outrageously priced Pixel Stand, which is $79.
Android Police reports that a reader purchased an Anker wireless charger for their Pixel 3, and, after noticing the slow charging speed, this person contacted the company. Anker confirmed that something screwy was going on with Google’s charging support, saying “Pixel sets a limitation for third-party charging accessories and we are afraid that even our fast wireless charger can only provide 5W for these 2x devices.”
Normally we would chalk this up to some kind of bug, but apparently Google told Android Police that this was . The site doesn’t have a direct quote, but it writes that, after reaching out to Google PR, it was “told that the Pixel 3 would charge at 10W on the Pixel Stand [and that] due to a ‘secure handshake’ being established that third-party chargers would indeed be limited to 5W.” We’ve asked Google it is doing this and will update this article if we hear back, but it’s hard to imagine a justification for this.
Regular 10W wireless chargers can be had for around $15-$25, so Google’s $79 Pixel Stand comes at a hefty markup. Qi is a standard, and a phone should strive to work with every charger. Some Samsung phones already support 15W wireless charging under the Qi standard, so there doesn’t seem to be any reason for Google’s 5W limit. The $79 Pixel Stand uses the “secure handshake” to provide a bit of security for the phone’s ambient display mode, which can do things like display a photo slideshow while charging. That’s not an excuse for limiting the charging speed, though. Another oddity is that the Pixel 3 displays “Charging rapidly” while on a 5W or 10W wireless charger, which is not correct, especially when the wired charger is 18W.
This is very disappointing given that the Pixel 3 made a big sacrifice to make wireless charging work: it switched from metal to a fragile glass back. To now limit faster wireless charging to its own charger is probably going to ruffle some feathers. It’s another strange hardware decision on a phone full of strange hardware decisions.