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iPhone 8 rumor points to a new feature that would be truly game-changing

Published Dec 15th, 2016 9:18AM EST

The evidence pointing to Apple incorporating a wireless charging feature into the iPhone 8 continues to mount. According to a new report from Fast Company, a company called Energous recently inked an investment deal with Apple supplier Dialog Semiconductor. This is particularly noteworthy given that Energous’ bread and butter involves developing wireless charging technologies.

Per the report, Dialog Semiconductor invested $10 million into Energous and, in return, Dialog will assume control over all of Energous’ technology. This is an extremely interesting development given that the bulk of Dialog’s business centers around providing components for Apple products.

“We’re actually transferring all of our silicon operations to Dialog,” says Energous CEO Steve Rizzone. “All the Energous technology will be sold under the Dialog branding and all sales orders will be going through Dialog. It’ll take us about 90 days to do all that,” Rizzone said.

So why is this a big deal? Well, there have already been a few reports pointing to an existing relationship between Energous and Apple. We first told you about the potential relationship all the way back in February of this year. Since then, Energous has repeatedly said on earnings calls that it’s been working with a “tier 1” smartphone manufacturer.

That, coupled with Energous getting into bed with a key Apple partner once again, only adds more credence to rumors that the iPhone 8 will include a futuristic wireless charging feature.

On its own, Energous is probably too small to be an Apple supplier. Apple suppliers have to be large enough to reliably supply parts at Apple’s huge scale. Dialog obviously already has that capacity. With the Energous technology basically being folded into the Dialog structure, all of a sudden Energous has it too.

As for the technology itself, it’s far more advanced than most wireless charging implementations you may already be familiar with. Specifically, Energous has come up with a way for a smartphone to charge wirelessly from a distance of 15 feet away. As we detailed just last month, users need only to position a base station in their home whereupon a tiny chip in a mobile device can connect to it and soak up power through the air. Without question, the ability to charge an iPhone from across the room would be a huge game-changer.

Adding even more fuel to the fire, reputed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a research note just three weeks ago wherein he claimed that the iPhone 8 industrial design will feature a switch from metal to glass in an effort to make the device’s wireless charging functionality much more efficient.

“We believe one of the reasons why new iPhones will switch from metal casing to glass casing is to support wireless charging,” Kuo said in a research note obtained by MacRumors. “In order to ensure a superior performance, we believe it is most appropriate for EMS suppliers to develop and make the wireless charger because then a comprehensive test can be conducted. As Hon Hai needs to deploy most resources to develop and produce OLED iPhone, we expect Pegatron will be the exclusive supplier of the wireless charger.”

Assuming that the rumors pan out and that the iPhone 8 does, in fact, sport a wireless charging feature, it remains to be seen what the final implementation will look like. Even though we’d venture to guess that the iPhone 8 won’t ship with the ability to charge up from 15 feet right out of the gate, even a wireless charging option of, say, 6 feet would be a marked improvement over using wireless charging pads.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.