Apple wants an iPhone to charge other devices through the screen glass

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited October 2023

Future iPhone models may not only allow for wirelessly charging other devices, but be able to do so through the front display, instead of the back of the phone.

Future iPhones could potentially charge accessories resting on the display
Future iPhones could potentially charge accessories resting on the display



Previously, the idea of wirelessly charging one device with another always seemed to work the same way. You'd slap your iPhone or iPad down face-first on a table, and then you'd place a heavy second device on the back.

You could possibly crack the display as you put it down. And you would have to be careful to position the second device so that it wasn't wedged up too high by the iPhone's camera bump.

Now, however, it seems that Apple has a lot more faith in the strength of its displays than users without AppleCare+ do. For a newly-granted patent proposes turning the iPhone over.

"Through-Display Wireless Charging," is concerned with making the display be the charging point. It's about making the screen be what you place the second device on in order to wirelessly be charged.

Apple's patent is specific about some parts of the idea, but less so about others. What starts out sounding like wireless charging from underneath the display -- like under-screen Face ID -- becomes something a bit less appealing.

"A personal electronic device (e.g., a tablet computer) may be configured to wirelessly charge an accessory (e.g., a stylus) through a display face of the device," it states. "At least a portion of the display face may be transparent to facilitate display viewing."

That makes it sound as if the ability to display anything is just an optional part of the screen. That wouldn't make this workable as an iPhone, since the display is a somewhat crucial element.

However, drawings in the application suggest that what's proposed is more of a hybrid display. A section of the screen could be enabled for wireless charging, and that area might not -- might not -- display anything.

Given how the only group of people more keen on reduced bezels than Apple is absolutely every user, it's hard to see the company bringing them back for any reason.

Except, perhaps, one.

"[Such] a configuration can include a tablet computer or smart phone that is configured to allow for a stylus or other accessory to be wirelessly charged on a face of the personal electronic device," continues the patent application, "e.g., thorough a display of the personal electronic device."

Top: example of an Apple Pencil resting on a display.  Bottom: detail showing where wireless charging coils could be positioned under the display
Top: example of an Apple Pencil resting on a display. Bottom: detail showing where wireless charging coils could be positioned under the display



Being able to rest your Apple Pencil across one edge of your iPad or iPhone screen and have it being automatically, wirelessly recharged, is an appealing possibility. It's not as appealing as being able to, say, rest your iPhone on your iPad and have that charge, but it's pretty good.

That's because it could take us a step further toward never having to think about batteries again. You use your Apple Pencil when you need, put it down when you're done, and it is charging.

We do already have wireless charging when you snap your Apple Pencil against the top of your iPad, but even that takes a little more conscious thought than putting a pen down.

This patent application is credited to eight inventors. That includes Zaki Moussaoui, whose previous related work includes a patent application about preventing wireless chargers interfering with CarKey.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    Wireless charging is so environmentally friendly.  And the further away from the charging coils the target is, the more environmentally friendly it becomes.

    /s
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 9
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,736member
    Wireless charging is so environmentally friendly.  And the further away from the charging coils the target is, the more environmentally friendly it becomes.

    /s
    On the flip side, how environmentally friendly are charging cables?  I can't count the number I've gone through over the years.  While one can argue that it takes as much (or more) material to add a wireless charger to a device as it does to make a cable, I'm fairly certain that people recycle their devices far more often than they do cables given that they get money back for it.
    williamlondonwatto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 3 of 9
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,767member
    Maybe this feature would intrigue me if Apple outfits a rumored titanium iPhone with a sapphire crystal display. Otherwise, keep that Milanese Loop away from my screen. 
    edited December 2021 williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    Sounds like a patent Samsung would steal(again) and fu** up (again!).
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 9
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    What a waste of time feature it would be, taking up room in a small device that could be used for battery.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 9
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,954member
    auxio said:
    Wireless charging is so environmentally friendly.  And the further away from the charging coils the target is, the more environmentally friendly it becomes.

    /s
    On the flip side, how environmentally friendly are charging cables?  I can't count the number I've gone through over the years.  While one can argue that it takes as much (or more) material to add a wireless charger to a device as it does to make a cable, I'm fairly certain that people recycle their devices far more often than they do cables given that they get money back for it.
    I can count on one hand the number of cables I’ve thrown out, and in case you didn’t notice, wireless charging still uses a cable, it’s just got a big ol’ puck on the end. (And rare-earth magnets if it’s a mag safe model,) so the ‘wireless’ charging also consumes more resources there, too. 

    Last I heard, peak efficiency of inductive charging was about 70%.  For a 4V, 3100 mAh battery that means 5.3wH of wasted power per charge cycle. If you use 70% per day, that means 1.3 kWh per year per phone. Not a lot until you multiply it by 1 million phones. Then you have terawatts of wasted power. One phone at a time. 
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobrabeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 7 of 9
    In the year 3000+, devices will be charged via earth’s natural magnetic field. These devices inside AR/VR glasses. Just my sci-fi cents. 😜
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,767member
    In the year 3000+, devices will be charged via earth’s natural magnetic field. These devices inside AR/VR glasses. Just my sci-fi cents. 😜
    I agree, but I don’t think it will take that long. Maybe by 2100 it will be ubiquitous. In the meantime, I’d love to see some progress in kinetic energy technology. Imagine recharging our iPhones, MR HMD’s, AirPods, Watches, etc. with just a little shake. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 9
    In the year 3000+, devices will be charged via earth’s natural magnetic field. These devices inside AR/VR glasses. Just my sci-fi cents. 😜
    Don't be silly.  Energy companies won't allow that to happen unless they can restrict and monetize it.  How do you restrict the use of something that pervades the entire globe?
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