When Apple had unveiled the iPhone X in September last year, it had also showcased AirPower — a Qi-compatible wireless charger that was capable of simultaneously charging the iPhone 8/X, Apple Watch, and the AirPods. Back then, Apple had mentioned a release timeframe of early 2018 for the charger.
With half of 2018 gone, there has still not been any word from Apple as to when the AirPower will launch. A Bloomberg News report today details that due to technical hurdles which include overheating and complex circuitry, Apple has been unable to launch the AirPower charger so far. The delayed launch has also slowed down Apple’s vision of a truly wireless future where the iPhone would even lack a charging port.
While there are plenty of wireless chargers available in the market, AirPower is special since it is capable of charging up to three devices (iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods) at once. Unlike other chargers, Apple highlights that one can place their device anywhere on the AirPower to begin charging it wirelessly. However, to achieve this, Apple has to pack the AirPower with multiple charging sensors and use a custom charging technology. The former has proved to be difficult, while Apple hopes to integrate its custom charging technology with Qi charging standard later this year.
The AirPower also features a custom chip from Apple and runs a stripped down version of iOS for on-device power management and pairing process. Apple’s engineers have ramped up their testing process in recent months are even using it as their primary charging at the office. They are also working on squashing all bugs in the firmware. The engineers had expected to launch the AirPower by June, but now, they are aiming to put it on sale “before or in September.”
The report also highlights that during the iPhone X development process, Apple considered removing the wired charging system from the device entirely. However, due to slow wireless charging speeds and the additional cost of bundling a wireless charger with every iPhone unit, the company decided otherwise.
Apple is the last major smartphone OEM to implement wireless charging on its devices. However, in typical Apple style, the company’s approach and execution have been far superior to that of its competition, though the delayed launch of the AirPower has put a dent on its plans. Once AirPower launches and Apple integrates its custom charging technology with the Qi charging standard, we should see accessory makers release their own wireless chargers which should be capable of charging multiple devices at once.