Gallium nitride (GaN)

We’ve heard about the magic materials that are slated to replace silicon as the semiconductor material of choice for the electronics industry for years now, without much in the way of actual progress. That might soon change, according to a report coming from the Chinese publication IT Home.

The outlet claims that multiple smartphones makers, ranging from Apple, Huawei, OPPO, Samsung and Xiaomi, are apparently all readying a new breed of chargers powered by gallium nitride, a semiconductor material that offers significant advantages over silicon by virtue of its higher bandgap. What that means, in layman’s terms, is that each atom can hold/provide more energy than silicon, resulting in higher power delivery and/or smaller charger sizes.

According to IT Home, these smartphone makers’ new chargers will be capable of outputting 65W of power, resulting in a vast improvement in charging speeds over the tech found in most products today.

And while the widespread nature of the report might make you take pause, it’s not necessarily all that surprising. Xiaomi has already started selling a 65W GaN charger for its new Mi 10 Pro, so it’s simply a matter of Xiaomi’s competitors catching up. Given the uber-competitive nature of the Chinese smartphone market, it’s not unlikely that competitors like Huawei and OPPO will rush to follow suit and try to achieve feature parity as soon as possible.

The only part of the report that makes me raise an eyebrow is Apple’s inclusion in the list. The Cupertino-based giant is notorious for dragging its heels on new features. The iPhone 11 still ships with a 5W charger in the box, so it does seem out of character for Apple to suddenly jump to adopt a new, and largely unproven technology, right out of the gate.

I guess we’ll have to wait till September for the next iPhone launch to see if I’m wrong.

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