Back in February, when Google released the first Android 11 Developer Preview, a hidden settings menu was discovered for a new feature called Battery Share. This will be Google's name for reverse wireless charging which allows a phone to be used as a wireless charging pad to charge up compatible phones and other mobile devices. First seen on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Samsung tapped it for the Galaxy S10 series calling it Wireless PowerShare.
The Pixel 5 series will have reverse wireless charging
The leak back in February showed that the activity name for the feature found in the Android 11 Developer Preview was "com.google.android" instead of "com.android."The former usually is seen on features that Google offers exclusively on its Pixel handsets while the latter is used on features coming to Android. As a result, this would indicate that Battery Share will be found on the upcoming Pixel 5 handset.
Today, XDA editor-in-chief Mishaal Rahman discovered a Battery Share animation in Android 11 Developer Preview 3, which Google dropped today. The animation, which was shared by XDA's Max Weinbach via a tweet, shows perfectly how reverse wireless charging works. The phone sharing its battery (in this case, a Pixel 5) is flipped face down on a table and a compatible charging case for wireless Bluetooth earbuds (like the new Pixel Buds) or a compatible handset is placed on the back of the phone. The only downside is that the battery power shared reduces how much power remains on the host phone.
Throughout the spring and summer of last year, there were rumors that Apple was going to include reverse wireless charging for the iPhone 11 series. TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said last September that the "charging efficiency may not meet Apple’s requirements." There has been speculation that Apple equipped all three 2019 phones with the required hardware and might activate it at a future time. The tech giant did sharply hike the battery capacities on the new models which might have been done in expectations that they would offer the reverse wireless charging feature.
The Pixel 5, if tradition holds in an untraditional world, will arrive in October with Android 11 pre-installed. However, they might not be flagship phones based on a leak found in a pre-release version of the Google Camera app. Code found in the app referred to the Pixel 5 as "photo_pixel_2020_midrange_config." And this is seemingly confirmed by code that links two internal codenames, Redfin and Bramble, to the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL. Redfin and Bramble will both be powered by the Snapdragon 765G chipset. While the latter chip does feature an integrated 5G Snapdragon modem, it also is said to provide performance that is 30% to 50% less than Qualcomm's flagship Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform.
Google was widely panned for equipping the Pixel 4 with a puny 2800mAh battery. While the Pixel 4 XL was better endowed with a 3700mAh battery, as the saying goes it's not the size of the battery's capacity that does the trick. And indeed it's not. Google needs to man up and give the Pixel 5 line enough juice to last all day and still allow the user to share some power with Battery Share. If that is not the main focus of Google engineers working on the device, it should be.
Of course, there are some other things that Google needs to work on such as adding an ultra-wide camera to the array on the phone's back panel. And if the Project Soli radar based Motion Sense is going to be worth keeping, it needs to be more useful.
There is one potential wild card that could change everything. Back in 2018, there were rumors that Google would unveil a third Pixel, the Pixel Ultra. Of course, that never did happen. But perhaps the company plans on releasing two mid-range models and a super premium Pixel 5 Ultra with an in-screen selfie camera, a huge display with a 120Hz refresh rate, loud stereo speakers, quad-camera setup, and a massive battery. Unfortunately, there is no sign that such a device is on the way.