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Starbucks smartphone wireless charging arrives in London

The coffee chain's wireless charging pads -- which sit on tables and let you charge your phone cable-free -- are going international, coming to 10 cafes in London this month.

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Rest your smartphone on a charging pad, and hey presto -- you've got power. Luke Westaway/CNET

Coffee behemoth Starbucks is caffeinating your smartphone, bringing its wireless charging pads to 10 cafes in London.

Wireless charging does exactly what it sounds like, letting you power up your gadgets without the use of irksome cables, or the hassle of hunting for a wall socket. Starbucks' implementation of the technology sees glossy pads embedded in its tables, which funnel power wirelessly into your phone.

To benefit from Starbucks' benevolent offer of free power, you'll need a Powermat-compatible phone, or borrow a charging dongle from the shop itself. There's no fee or deposit required for borrowing them, but if you'd rather save time on repeat visits, Starbucks will sell you one for £10. Dongles with Micro-USB and Apple's Lightning and older 30-pin connectors are available, so the vast majority of smartphones should be compatible.

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Luke Westaway/CNET

Wireless charging company Powermat is supplying the hardware. It uses the PMA standard, rather than the rival Qi standard, which is more popular among smartphone makers who add built-in wireless charging tech to their mobiles.

The battle for standardisation in wireless charging is still raging on, but the dongle you'll be using in Starbucks gets around this issue, making almost every phone compatible -- but of course this does mean you have to use a chunky accessory instead of just resting your phone on the charging pad.

London is the first destination outside the US to get the wireless charging tech, which is already being added to 2,000 American outlets, following trials in Boston and San Jose. For now only 10 London shops will be equipped, in a roll-out that's happening this month. "Our plan is to go from there," said Scott Eisenstein of Powermat.