The hassle of plugging in your phone after entering your vehicle is about to go away for good.
Presently, there are two main reasons to plug in a phone after you settle into a driver’s seat. The first is for charging. The second is to access Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are a handful of vehicles on the market now, in 2020, that don’t require you to plug in to accomplish either of these functions right now, and many more that can charge your phone without plugging it in.
Wireless Phone Charging
Wireless charging via Qi (pronounced chee) inductive charging pads is no longer the magic it was when introduced over a decade ago. The home-charging pads are so inexpensive that they are now gift items at trade shows. Every modern phone model now has the ability to be placed on a Qi charging pad and draw battery life. It makes no difference if the charging pad is on your kitchen counter, nightstand, or in your Camry.
This technology is now found in every vehicle brand and in many mainstream high-volume models. If it isn’t standard on the model you are considering, check if there is a “tech package” that offers it. In addition to charging your phone, vehicles with Qi charging pads also tend to have the best phone storage locations. We love the ease of use in our test vehicles. One really big advantage to in-vehicle Qi charging is the ability to run multiple apps via Bluetooth and not lose charge while you drive. Anything that leaves your screen open tends to be an energy hog.
Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
A few months ago, BMW announced to the world proudly that it would be the first to offer wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in its 2020 models. This was a big step forward for BMW who had up until this time not offered Android Auto in any of its vehicles in any form. For those who love Apple products and don’t realize it, Android phones make up about half of the car-buying public in America, and in other important vehicle markets, Android is the dominant phone platform.
BMW leaped ahead by offering both a wireless charger and wireless smartphone integration. But it didn’t leap ahead of the competition. Cadillac’s new Escalade now has the technology. And it’s not just luxury brands that offer it for 2020. Both GMC and Chevrolet are also offering wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in the new Yukon and Suburban/Tahoe SUVs launching this year. Technology is being democratized at an incredible pace today. The good news for vehicle owners is that they won’t need to be dealing with cords anymore inside their cars, crossovers, and trucks.
Image notes: Top of page image by John Goreham. Charging image courtesy of Toyota. BMW Image courtesy of BMW. GMC image courtesy of Chad Kirchner