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AirPower is the name of Apple’s elusive wireless charging mat. The once-cancelled accessory has seen a resurgence in rumours these past few months, leading us to believe it could be making a comeback.
Apple originally unveiled the AirPower alongside the iPhone X in September 2017. Unlike many of the other wireless charging mats available at the time, the AirPower promised to be able to accommodate multiple devices in any orientation at the same time. This was credited to the 22 individual charging coils inside the mat alternating electromagnetic induction, emitting and receiving electromagnetic waves in both the charger and the device to power the device’s battery.
Front Page Tech founder Jon Prosser, in particular, has championed the return of the Apple AirPower in 2020, tweeting that the “AirPower isn’t dead” back in March. Prosser revealed that the project is back on internally, though there is no guarantee that Apple will release the final product.
Since March, we’ve heard more leaks and rumours about the AirPower, including images of the supposed device. Read on for everything we know about the Apple-branded wireless charging mat.
Related: Best wireless charger
Why was the Apple AirPower cancelled?
The charging mat dropped off the radar – and Apple’s website – after the iPhone X event until March 2019, when Senior VP of Hardware Engineering Dan Riccio released the following statement.
“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward”.
A number of reports suggested that Apple faced technical challenges when designing the AirPower and that overheating was a major obstacle for the charging mat that may have led to its cancellation.
Three years on and it looks like Apple may have resolved these issues and is ready for a (belated) release.
Related: AirPower Cancelled: The story of Apple’s ill-fated wireless charging mat
When will the Apple AirPower be released?
There has been no official word of a release date for the Apple AirPower but, with photos rolling in now, we wouldn’t be surprised in the device launched alongside the iPhone 12 this September.
How much will the Apple AirPower cost?
Apple has yet to reveal how much the AirPower will cost, but don’t expect it to be the cheapest wireless charger on the market.
Third-party wireless chargers in the Apple store website range from £29.95 to £139.95 depending on the number of devices the pad can hold. The AirPower is expected to charge multiple devices (and let’s face it, it’s an Apple product) so we’re not holding our breath for a budget Qi charging solution here.
Related: Best iPhone
What features will the Apple AirPower have?
According to a leak shared by Jon Prosser in April, Apple engineers working from home are currently testing prototype units of a device known internationally as “C68”.
The engineers are reportedly working on software communication between devices for a future product – presumably the charging mat itself. Prosser included an image of an Apple Watch sitting on top of what looks to be the AirPower, though the photo is blurry to protect the identity of the Apple employee.
The tweet also revealed that the charging mat will supposedly be kitted with an A11 chip to “dynamically manage heat”. While this could certainly solve Apple’s overheating issues, a charging mat powered by the same SoC as the iPhone X does feel a bit like overkill. We’re hoping this won’t affect the price of the AirPower too drastically.
Prosser took to Twitter again in June to post clearer images of the AirPower charging an Apple Watch and a pair of AirPods.
Not only does this image confirm that Apple will be following through on its promise to create a wireless charger that can support multiple devices at once, but it also gives us a glimpse of a rather unusual charging port – at least for Apple.
It looks as though the Apple AirPower will charge via USB-C rather than the standard Lightning cable. While Apple is no stranger to using USB-C to charge larger devices, the company generally opts for its proprietary Lightning cable when it comes to mobile devices. The iPhone and AirPods both charge via Lightning, while the Apple Watch uses a magnetic charging cable rather than a port, which is why it is surprising that Apple hasn’t opted for Lightning here. Perhaps the company is finally bowing down to pressure from the EU to conform to one universal charging cable. Apple has already moved the iPad Pro over to USB-C, while the future of the iPhone port has been rumoured to be up in the air for a while.