In September 2017 when Apple unveiled the iPhone X and the then-new iPhone 8 series, both of which featured wireless charging, the company also previewed the AirPower wireless charging mat that would allow three devices to be charged at once. Apple promised the AirPower would ship in 2017–but it never did. Then people expected it to ship in 2018, but it hasn’t yet–and Apple didn’t even give an update on it at last week’s iPhone event.
That lack of update may mean the AirPower will never see the light of day, reports Sonny Dickson. The well-connected blogger is now saying that the product has faced numerous issues including overheating, charging activation issues, and charging accuracy levels. Multiple internal sources at Apple have confirmed the problems the company is having with the device, and, as Dickson says, it may be “may be doomed to failure”:
The mechanism being used for multi-device charging, which we can confirm is comprised of between 21 and 24 power coils of various sizes to accommodate the three main products to be charged (AirPods equipped with a so-far-nonexistent wireless charging accessory case, iPhone, and Apple Watch), which are broken into three identical charging groups, is proving extremely difficult to build or refine, and has been resulting in a significant amount of interference up to this point, which reduces the efficiency of the charging mat, and contributes to the heat issues that engineers are facing.
What is thought to be a significant factor in the ongoing engineering struggle is that three different sizes of coils must overlap within each coil set, which, combined with the very compact size of the device, makes managing interference and heat an extremely daunting technical challenge.
Aside from heat and interference shielding, the complexity of the circuitry in the device is also posing a significant challenge, which likely cannot be overcome unless the device is redesigned to be slightly thicker and larger–decisions which Apple is specifically unwilling to make compromises on for their overall design.
And Dickson’s sources think the problems may be too much to overcome and Apple could cancel the AirPower project entirely. If that happens, Dickson’s sources say Apple may apply the AirPower name to an entirely new product not expected to ship before spring 2019.