Apple in 2017 introduced the AirPower as a flat charging bed capable of charging an iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch all at once, but technical problems prevented the AirPower from ever launching.
Apple canceled the project after running into development bugs, but since then, rumors have suggested work on a multi-device charger has continued. This guide highlights the rumors that we know about the wireless charging work that Apple has conducted, and it includes details on the now-discontinued AirPower.
New Wireless Charger
Though Apple canceled the AirPower, the Cupertino company is still developing a multi-device charging solution. According to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the charger that Apple has in development would work similarly to the AirPower, and would charge multiple devices at one time.
Apple wants to create a charging accessory that would let users charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods all at the same time.
Apple is specifically testing charging solutions that are not inductive, including short and long range wireless charging options. Apple wants a future where all of its major devices can charge one another. "Imagine an iPad charging an iPhone, and then that iPhone charging AirPods or an Apple Watch," wrote Gurman.
Details are scarce on when a new charging product could come out and what Apple might call it, but if Apple is relying on device to device charging or a long range wireless charging solution that does not require contact, it may still be a few years off.
Alongside the iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a line of "MagSafe" accessories, reviving the name once used for the MacBook's charger. The new MagSafe products are designed to work with a ring of magnets built into the back of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models. There are cases, wallet accessories, and a MagSafe Charger.
The MagSafe Charger snaps to the back of an iPhone using a magnetic connection and provides up to 15W of power when paired with a 20W power adapter from Apple, which is double the speed available with a standard 7.5W wireless charger. Faster wireless charging is possible because the magnet allows the MagSafe Charger to be positioned right over the wireless charging coil in the iPhone.
Apple's MagSafe Charger is designed for the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and future iPhones, and it charges much slower with older iPhone models. MagSafe charging options will eventually allow Apple to develop a port-free iPhone, and MagSafe appears to be an alternative to AirPower.
Fake AirPower Revived Rumors
Throughout 2020, there were some unreliable rumors that Apple had revived work on the AirPower, but those rumors appear to have been incorrect and work on AirPower has not resumed. Apple has instead presumably replaced the AirPower with MagSafe charging products, with the MagSafe Charger released in October 2020.
Back in March 2020, YouTuber Jon Prosser claimed that "AirPower isn't dead" and that the project was "back on internally." Prosser said that there's no guarantee that the product will be finalized and released, but Apple "hasn't given up yet" and is attempting to "re-engineer the coils" to more effectively displace heat.
Prosser in June 2020 said that Apple has overcome issues with Apple Watch charging and he shared a "prototype" of the device, known as C68 internally. The charger is allegedly equipped with an A11 chip and a reduced number of coils compared to the original AirPower. Prosser has said the device could launch as early as Q4 2020 and it will cost around $250.
The "prototype" images shared by Prosser ultimately turned out to be fake and of a clone device that's not an AirPower and not designed by Apple, so it does not seem that Prosser's other information is correct, and these "AirPower" rumors should be viewed with some skepticism.
Other reliable Apple rumor sources, such as Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, said from the beginning that Prosser's AirPower leaks were inaccurate.
Leaked AirPower Internal Photos
Photos allegedly from the now-discontinued AirPower surfaced on social networks in August 2020, depicting a multi-coil design that would have been used to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods no matter where they're placed on the mat.
There's also a circuit board laden with chips that would have served as the brains of the device. We don't know if these photos actually depict the AirPower as there's nothing in the design that specifically ties them to Apple, but it can't be ruled out either.
If the photos are real, they appear to be from the AirPower that was discontinued in 2019 rather than a new wireless charger that's in the works.
A video of a functional AirPower prototype was shared on Twitter, giving us some insight into what it might have looked like when charging an iPhone.
AirPower pic.twitter.com/bv8gi0NiiL — Giulio Zompetti (@1nsane_dev) August 5, 2021
Though the AirPower has been canceled, there are some alternative third-party options that are designed to charge multiple devices at once. No third-party charger does exactly what the AirPower promised because that was an impossibility, but they do all charge more than one device, and some of them are able to charge AirPods, iPhone, and Apple Watch all together.
Check out our dedicated AirPower Alternatives guide to see the full list of options.
What was AirPower?
AirPower was an Apple-designed charging mat designed to charge Qi-based iPhones, the Apple Watch, and the AirPods, using a specially designed AirPods Wireless Charging Case, which Apple introduced in March 2019.
Apple's AirPower was proprietary and intended to combine at least two different wireless charging methods -- Qi and then the Apple Watch charger, which is inductive and not Qi based.
It was designed so that you could place an iPhone, AirPods, or Apple Watch on any portion of the mat to have the device charge, which meant multiple overlapping chargers must be included.
The AirPower mat would have been big enough to charge all three devices at one time, with the AirPower itself connected to an external power source, perhaps using a USB-C cable.
In Apple's renderings, AirPower also had a feature that let the iPhone display the wireless charging level of all of the devices on the mat, including the iPhone itself, the Apple Watch, and the AirPods.
Where Is AirPower?
AirPower missed its 2018 launch date, and while Apple was quiet on the reason why, rumors suggested there were serious manufacturing issues and kinks to be worked out.
Apple was forced to delay the AirPower after having trouble dealing with the complex multi-device charging circuitry, software bugs, and the potential for overheating.
Over the course of 2018, Apple was working out kinks including heat management, inter-device communication, and interference issues, and there were times during development where rumors suggested Apple could potentially be planning to nix the AirPower, but there were consistent mentions in 2018 iPhone packaging, and recently an image of the AirPower with an iPhone XS was spotted on Apple's website.
Unfortunately, those technical challenges proved to be too much, and Apple ultimately canceled the AirPower project in March 2019.
When Was AirPower Supposed to Launch?
Apple announced AirPower in September 2017 alongside the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, and said at the time that it would launch sometime in 2018.
2018 came and went, and Apple gave no further official info on when the AirPower would debut in the early months of 2019.
Rumors from Apple's supply chain in China suggested the manufacturing issues had been solved by January 2019, and according to The Wall Street Journal, Apple approved production of the AirPower earlier in the year, which suggested it could be coming soon.
Code found within iOS 12.2, an update released to the public on March 25, suggested that Apple may have been gearing up to launch the AirPower around that time. Apple also obtained an AirPower trademark around the same time, seemingly purchasing it from the company that had previously registered it. Finally, DigiTimes said we could expect the AirPower in late March.
All of those rumors and hints failed to pan out, however, and Apple ultimately canceled the launch over 18 months after the product was announced.
What Would AirPower Have Cost?
Apple never announced pricing for the AirPower, but there were some guesses. Chinese "industry insiders" in August 2018 suggested the AirPower could cost somewhere around $1,000 Chinese yuan, equivalent to right around $147.
Back in November 2017, a Polish website suggested the AirPower would cost around 999 złoty, equivalent to $199.
Given that both of these rumors came from well before the AirPower was even in production, neither were particularly reliable, but we thought it reasonable to expect a price tag in the neighborhood of $130 to $200 based on the price points of competing wireless charging devices and Apple's accessory pricing in general.
Which Devices Would Have Worked With AirPower?
- iPhone - All Qi-compatible iPhones were to work with AirPower, which includes iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR.
- AirPods - Using AirPower with AirPods required the AirPods Wireless Charging Case, which Apple introduced in March 2019.
- Apple Watch - AirPower would have worked with the Apple Watch Series 3 and later. It would not have been compatible with Series 2 and older watches.
AirPower was announced in September 2017, and at the time, Apple promised a 2018 launch date. Multiple rumors initially suggested a possible March 2018 release, but March came and went, and there was also no sign of AirPower at WWDC in June or at the September iPhone event.
After its September iPhone event, Apple wiped almost every mention of the AirPower from its website, and rumors later in September indicated that Apple was having problems with overheating, interference, and software.
Dire reports suggested the AirPower was doomed to fail if engineers couldn't solve a number of issues plaguing the device, but when the iPhone XS and XS Max launched a bit later in September, we found AirPower documentation, suggesting work on the device was still underway.
In October 2018, we heard the AirPower was going to be released in late 2018 or early 2019, but after Apple's October 30th event came and went with no AirPower mention, it became clear Apple wasn't going to make its 2018 deadline.
In December, Apple was still mentioning the AirPower in job listings, and then in early January, refreshed rumors hinted that mass production would soon start. AirPower was also mentioned in the product description for the recently released Smart Battery Case in some countries, and in January 2019 DigiTimes said it was still coming "later in 2019."
MySmartPrice, a site with a mixed track record when it comes to rumors, said that Apple's AirPower would be thicker than expected due to an 8-7-7 coil configuration and that it would launch in spring 2019.