When Apple unveiled the iPhone X, the company finally dipped its toes into the world of wireless charging by announcing support for the wireless standard Qi. To complement the iPhone’s new capabilities, Apple also unveiled its own AirPower wireless charging mat. But since announcing it in September of last year, the company has yet to discuss it again publicly.
Here’s everything we know so far about the AirPower wireless charging pad.
Pricing and availability
In February, Japanese blog MacOtakara claimed Apple’s wireless charging pad was almost ready for release. Other rumors claimed the device was supposed to ship in March. According to a recent report from Bloomberg, sources close to the matter now say the AirPower will be released either in August or
September. But an analyst at research firm Creative Strategies told the publication that he believes the AirPower product is a much bigger project that could take years to develop, not months or quarters.
While one source said that some Apple engineers have been using the charging pads at their desks over the last few months, the team is still apparently working to perfect them. Since the device includes a custom Apple chip that runs a more basic version of iOS, engineers are reportedly working to squash bugs in relation to the onboard firmware.
As for pricing, you can definitely expect the AirPower to cost more than your run-of-the-mill wireless charging pad. The latest rumors, courtesy of Chinese tech site Chongdiantou, say the AirPower will come in at $150, about $50 less than an earlier rumor from VentureBeat.
Wirelessly charge multiple devices at once
AirPower’s wireless charging standard allows you to charge multiple devices at one time — meaning a 2017 or newer iPhone, an Apple Watch, and even AirPods, thanks to a promised wireless charging case. Powering several devices at once seems like a simple matter, but it’s not. Different device requires different amounts of power, and the pad needs a method to detect which device is where — and then supply the correct amount of power only to devices sitting in that specific location. To overcome this hurdle, it seems like Apple has a few innovative ideas in mind.
First off, a rumor from LoveiOS, says Apple will place 22 wireless charging coils in the AirPower, making it easy to charge an item anywhere on the device’s surface. And if a rumor from MacOtakara is to be believed, the Airpower will use a special radio signal to detect where each device sits.
Devices supporting Apple products have existed since the September release of the iPhone X; we tested three popular models from Mophie, Belkin, and RavPower in late October (spoiler alert: the RavPower Alpha Series Fast Charger blew away the competition). But Apple’s AirPower promises unique features unavailable in other products, thanks to a proprietary specification built around the Wireless Power Consortium’s (WPC) Qi specification. (Curious about how wireless charging works? Here’s everything you need to know.)
Oh, and those AirPods? We assume a special case will enable any existing AirPods to charge, but that remains to be seen. According to a footnote on Apple’s iPhone X page, it may not be the case: “AirPods with wireless charging capabilities coming in 2018.” Does that mean wireless capabilities are coming, or new AirPods are coming? We’ll see.
Updated on August 13, 2018: Added pricing and spec details.
Published at Mon, 13 Aug 2018 17:55:06 +0000