Apple announced its first phone with wireless charging more than a year ago with the iPhone X. Now, there are more phones on the way with wireless charging, but there’s still no “official” way to charge those phones wirelessly. Apple’s promised AirPower pad from the iPhone X event is still a no-show, and a new report blames engineering issues.
Apple’s phones (miraculously) don’t rely on a proprietary standard for wireless charging. They use Qi-formatted charging, which is the same technology implemented in most other phones with wireless charging. You can get any Qi charger you want to juice up an iPhone X (or XS and XS Max soon), but Apple’s solution was supposed to have other cool features.
The AirPower mat was shown off with the ability to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods (with charging case) all at the same time. You could just set them anyplace on the pad to charge as well. Most Qi charging pads have a “sweet spot” where you need to place your devices to get them to charge. In addition, the devices would pair intelligently so you could view the charging status of all three devices on your phone.
Apple initially expected to have the device ready to ship in early 2018, but rumors of problems began circulating not long after the announcement. In June of this year, sources claimed the AirPower had overheating issues, but Apple expected to launch it in time for the new iPhones. Apple didn’t mention the charger at all during the recent (exceedingly long) hardware event, and all mention of AirPower has vanished from the Apple website.
The latest rumors on the fate of AirPower cite the incredible complexity of the charging coil design. It contains between 21 and 24 coils of various sizes, broken up into three groups to allow for charging three separate devices. These coils are prone to overheat, which causes charging efficiency to drop like a rock. Interference from the multitude of charging coils also makes inter-device communication of charging levels spotty. Apple bloggers John Gruber and Sonny Dickson both indicate AirPower is in danger of cancelation, but no one inside Apple will admit that yet.
Until Apple figures out what to do with AirPower, iPhone owners will have to keep buying wireless chargers from other manufacturers. Apple even lists a few of them on its website.
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