Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

All iPhone 12 and ‌iPhone‌ 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory.

iP12 charge airpods feature 2

The FCC filing suggests that ‌iPhone‌ 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories:

In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhones also support WPT charging function at 360 kHz to charge accessories. Currently the only accessory that can be charged by iPhones is an external potential Apple accessory in future.

It does not seem unfeasible that Apple could enable the feature via a software update in the future to accompany the launch of a new accessory. It is notable that the filing refers to a single, unreleased Apple accessory that would take advantage of reverse wireless charging, which has led to speculation on what the accessory could be.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman hypothesized that it could be next-generation AirPods with MagSafe support. MagSafe would allow the AirPods case to magnetically attach and charge on the back of ‌iPhone‌ 12 models. Another possibility is Apple's long-awaited AirTags item trackers, which could also benefit from wireless charging on the back of an ‌iPhone‌ 12.

This is not the first time that Apple has been believed to be interested in reverse wireless charging on the ‌iPhone‌. Two-way charging was a rumored feature for the iPhone 11 lineup in 2019, but Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo later said the feature may have been abandoned because the charging efficiency did not meet Apple's requirements.

With the launch of MagSafe on the ‌iPhone‌ 12, and third-generation AirPods expected in the first half of this year, ‌iPhone‌ 12 users could yet see a new feature added to their existing device.

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