Apple researching two-way wireless Qi charging cases with no Lightning

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2020
Apple is working on two-coil wireless charging technology for an iPhone battery case without using the Lightning connector, something that would be necessary for a completely wireless iPhone.

Current Smart Battery Case models only charge wirelessly. They transfer power to an iPhone via Lightning.
Current Smart Battery Case models only charge wirelessly. They transfer power to an iPhone via Lightning.


Current Smart Battery Case models can charge themselves wirelessly, but use a built-in Lightning connector to power the iPhone they're attached to. That could prove to be a problem on a completely wireless iPhone.

In a patent that was filed in May 2019 and awarded to Apple on Thursday, the company describes a smart battery case that could use two coils for bidirectional wireless charging.

"A battery case has first and second coils on opposing sides of a battery and has switching circuitry that is coupled between the first and second coils," the patent reads. These two coils, and associated circuitry, are important elements of a wireless Smart Battery case that could both charge itself and an iPhone wirelessly.

As the patent explains, the case could use its own built-in battery to power up a connected device using the second coil in an open state. Similarly, the case can also receive power itself wirelessly in this open state.

If the switching circuitry is in a closed state, both coils are shorted together "so that current flowing through the first coil flows through the second coil in series so that wireless power from the wireless charging mat that is received with the first coil is transmitted wirelessly to the wireless power receiving device using the second coil."

Put another way, the next-generation Smart Battery Case could ditch the built-in Lightning connector and charge the device it's attached to via Qi wireless charging. And, the battery case will be able to transfer power directly to an iPhone in a "pass-through" without charging its own battery.

The details described in the patent are notable because current Apple Smart Battery Case models only contain a single coil and rely on Lightning to charge the device. That's why they can't presently charge an iPhone via Qi wireless charging, and why they use a Lightning connector instead.

Thursday's patent application also claims the benefit of another provisional Apple patent application that was filed in January 2019. The patent includes the other application in its entirety.

A next-generation Smart Battery Case that ditches a Lightning connector could prove to be important amid rumors of a "port-less" iPhone. In 2019, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo forecast that Apple could ditch the Lightning port in favor of a "completely wireless experience" by 2021. Other leakers, like Jon Prosser and @choco_bit, have corroborated that rumor.

In place of Lightning, the port-less device -- possibly the "iPhone 13" -- would feature Qi wireless charging and an iPad Pro-style Smart Connector. Rumors of a Smart Connector on an iPhone stretch back to 2017.

The patent application Thursday names Rohan Dayal, Stephen C. Terry and Narendra S. Mehta as its inventors. The first two inventors have worked on Apple wireless charging patents in the past, while Mehta invented charging systems for Qualcomm.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,188member
    This would seem to suggest that a lightning-free iPhone wouldn't use an iPad-style smart connector at all (as many have speculated.)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,600member
    I hope they don’t ditch the lightening connector. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    Find it insane that they’d waste power with Qi for a case when you have direct contact. 
    llama
  • Reply 4 of 13
    XedXed Posts: 1,028member
    jd_in_sb said:
    I hope they don’t ditch the lightening connector. 
    The loss of Lightning is inevitable.
    lkruppllama
  • Reply 5 of 13
    If they’re going to put smart connectors on the phones, couldn’t the smart cases just deliver power through that???  Or am I missing something here?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    XedXed Posts: 1,028member
    If they’re going to put smart connectors on the phones, couldn’t the smart cases just deliver power through that???  Or am I missing something here?
    They could. People ignoring that option are just being reactionary.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 838member
    Xed said:
    If they’re going to put smart connectors on the phones, couldn’t the smart cases just deliver power through that???  Or am I missing something here?
    They could. People ignoring that option are just being reactionary.
    Huh?  How can one both ignore and react at the same time? Not trying to be a dick, just wondering what you mean. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    I would like a non-lighting cable source to charge my IPad, since i had to replace the usb hub recently,
    but would i rather avoid a shock or zap of electricity by charing the device on a docking pad.
    i hope this makes sense.
  • Reply 9 of 13
    I worry about a port-less phone. I often see people charging their phones  mid-day when they’re out and about. Think coffee shops, random squatters near plugs, or even little charging lockers in malls. For this, all they need to carry is a little cable. How will people charge port-less phones? Carry a Qi mat in their pocket?  How fast will it charge?  Will they have to squat in the airport hallway for an hour or more  to get a decent charge?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    This would seem to suggest that a lightning-free iPhone wouldn't use an iPad-style smart connector at all (as many have speculated.)
    Current battery cases display remaining power on the phone, and have a separate camera button, both of which would need the smart connector to work...

    On a separate note, totally a great idea to have a port-less case as well as a phone /s my very expensive battery case from Apple already doesn’t charge properly overnight using wireless. Meaning I have to plug it in physically anyway! Can’t wait to have two dead products! Just give us USB C, then it actually “increases” functionality, wowsers. 
  • Reply 11 of 13
    XedXed Posts: 1,028member
    Japhey said:
    Xed said:
    If they’re going to put smart connectors on the phones, couldn’t the smart cases just deliver power through that???  Or am I missing something here?
    They could. People ignoring that option are just being reactionary.
    Huh?  How can one both ignore and react at the same time? Not trying to be a dick, just wondering what you mean. 
    You’re wondering how people can both ignore the option for a smart connector and instead throw a hissy fit over how necessary Lightning is or how ineffectual Qi would be?
    entropys
  • Reply 12 of 13
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,689member
    I would like a non-lighting cable source to charge my IPad, since i had to replace the usb hub recently,
    but would i rather avoid a shock or zap of electricity by charing the device on a docking pad.
    i hope this makes sense.
    Not really. Why would you expect a "shock or zap of electricity" when charging your device?
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 13
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,573member
    Japhey said:
    Xed said:
    If they’re going to put smart connectors on the phones, couldn’t the smart cases just deliver power through that???  Or am I missing something here?
    They could. People ignoring that option are just being reactionary.
    Huh?  How can one both ignore and react at the same time? Not trying to be a dick, just wondering what you mean. 
    Pretty simple. People complaining about a thing can be reactionary in their dislike by ignoring possible solutions.
    watto_cobra
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