Qi is a standard for wireless charging. Initially, in 2010 it supported charging at a lowly 5 watts but is now capable of 30 watts in some circumstances. Many smartwatches now have some form of QI charging.
We don’t know much about Garmin’s QI charging yet but we do know it’s coming very soon and we can already make some pretty decent assumptions and inferences. Like these…
Q: What Garmin Models will get QI?
A: The upcoming Garmin Vivomove Trend will get QI charging. this will act as a test bed for Garmin.
Vivomove is very much a smartwatch with a bit of fitness functionality in a pretty shell. It’s most likely that QI charging will first appear on other ‘smart’-focussed Garmin watches rather than the athletically-focussed Forerunners and Fenixes.
Q: Will Garmin introduce dual-charging ie also with a cable?
A: This is not clear from the leaked images but I would bet that it will be QI-charging only. Introducing 2 methods of charging is more expensive to manufacture.
I don’t like Garmin’s cables as they have never properly worked for data syncing but they’ve been great for reliably and quickly charging my Garmin watches. It looks like Garmin now has more confidence in the reliability of its watches’ Bluetooth Connections and I’d have to say that over the last 3 years, I’ve noticed much more robust links between watches and the Garmin Connect app. So Garmin should be increasingly able to rely on QI for charging without having to worry about cable-based data transfer.
Q: Will Garmin be compatible with Apple Watch charging pucks?
A: No/Yes, I doubt that Garmin has designed its flavour of QI with Apple in mind #Competitor
If you look at the side view of the Vivomove there is not much of a rounded rear surface or rounded rear optical HR sensor bump. It looks quite different to the bumpier Apple Watch. That said, if you put an Apple charger near the rear of the Garmin Vivomove it may well charge but probably won’t be designed to stay in place…if it falls off easily it won’t charge easily!
Q: Will Garmin watches charge on a flat Magsafe-like pad?
A: I suspect not.
Q: Will Garmin introduce Fast Charging QI?
A: Yes, but maybe not yet.
Fast charging is one of those rarely heralded features that actually make smartwatches more usable. Smartwatches historically tended to be the ones with the juice-guzzling AMOLED screens and have shorter battery lives; a fast-charging capability in my experience made such watches (Apple) significantly more usable on a 24×7 basis
But there are different QI speed charging standards and my guess would be that quicker charging is more expensive to implement. Thus Garmin will be testing the water with cheaper, more longstanding tech. Maybe Fast charging will later find its way to Garmin’s premium smartwatches like the Venu (and Vivoactive).
Q: What is the data transfer with QI?
A: Pretty much zero I think from implementations I’ve seen so far! It’s good at charging, but not so good at data transfer, tho I guess it’s possible.
So, the Vivomove will only be able to sync data by Bluetooth and that’s quite slow. More expensive Garmin watches, typically those with music, also have WiFi support which can be significantly faster. But real-world upload speeds never match the speed of a USB cable.
Q: What about maps and software updates then?
A: Hmm yes. Good point
Maps are big and hence are best transferred with a speedy cable. Whilst you might buy a Fenix with global maps pre-installed, you will still have to periodically update them and might even upgrade maps to Garmin’s higher-resolution options or to third-party maps. In these cases you are going to want to use a cable and not Bluetooth…although maybe background WiFi would be OK? WiFi6 is pretty speedy after all and next year’s WiFi 7 will undoubtedly be faster.
Similarly, it’s just safer to update firmware over a cable but it seems that option is ending for some people.
Q: Is QI Waterproof
A: It certainly makes waterproofing easier as there is no port to make waterproof.
Q: Will Garmin’s QI cable be a puck on one end and USB-C on the other?
EU regulation and regulation in other jurisdictions are likely to force manufacturers to use more standard cables, I suspect that in the short term, QI pucks are a way to force you and me to buy manufacturers’ own-brand accessories at least for a few more years.
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