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Apple Is Working On An iPhone That Charges Wirelessly

If it can perfect the technology, your iPhone might have no ports at all come 2017.

[Photo: Flickr user Robert]

Apple is working on developing an iPhone can that be charged wirelessly over long distances, reports Bloomberg. The site says Apple is working with partners in Asia and the United States to perfect the long-range wireless technology and it’s believed that Apple could include it in iPhones as early as next year.

Wireless charging of smartphones is nothing new. Samsung and other Android handset makers have been releasing phones capable of wireless charging for years. However, those phones currently use induction to charge wirelessly, meaning they must be placed on a wireless charging pad in order to recharge their batteries. Apple also currently uses induction wireless charging in one of its devices, the Apple Watch.

In 2012, Apple’s Senior VP Phil Schiller told AllThingsD that the current methods of wireless charging for phones wasn’t something Apple was interested in because you still needed to plug a charging pad into an outlet and place a smartphone on it.

"Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated," Schiller said.

What would be innovative about Apple’s method of wirelessly charging its 2017 iPhone is that it wouldn’t rely on induction or charging pads. Instead the phone could charge at greater distances, completely wirelessly, from the source of power. There are a few ways in which this could be achieved, the most likely one is via a method that charges the iPhone through a near field magnetic resonance. Apple was granted a patent for such a method in 2015.

Via this method, the iPhone would charge completely wirelessly if it were within a certain distance of a power hub. The problem with this method is the farther away you are from the power hub, the longer it takes your iPhone to charge. It’s possible Apple and its U.S. and Asian partners have found a way to lessen this distance effect.

If wireless charging such as this does come to the iPhone next year, it could radically transform how the device looks and how we use it. Wireless charging would enable Apple to eliminate the lightning port from the phone, making it (if rumors are to be believed) the world’s first port-less smartphone. From a usage standpoint, wireless charging could make it seem like our iPhone’s battery lasts for days. If the iPhone can wirelessly charge from a hub (either a standalone one or one built into, say, and iMac or a MacBook that is plugged in), the phone could charge automatically even when in our pockets whenever we are sitting at our desk. Such a feature would be a huge leap forward for the iPhone that Apple might not have any reason to worry about stagnating sales come 2017.

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