When Apple unveiled the iPhone X, the company finally dipped its toes into the world of wireless charging, 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 at its event 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
Back 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 AirPower will be released either before or in 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 on-board firmware.
Proprietary specifications and special radio transmitters in an Apple-branded device? Expect it to cost more than existing chargers, which range from $40 to $60 or so, when it ships, possibly in March. VentureBeat speculated that the device could sell for as much as $199, citing a placeholder entry on a Polish website. We expect it to be more reasonable, but still higher than comparable devices from the competition.
Meanwhile, take a gander at Plux, which purports to be the first the world’s first Qi-compatible, multidevice wireless charging pad for your iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods.
AirPower wireless charging pad
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 to supply the correct amount of power only to devices sitting in that specific location. According to MacOtakara, 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 June 21: Apple reportedly aiming for September launch of the AirPower Wireless Charger