Apple's AirPower charging mat may not be cancelled after all

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 12
If reports out of the Chinese supply chain can be believed, Apple's AirPower charging accessory has very recently begun mass production with an established Apple manufacturing partner building the device.




After a year of speculation regarding when Apple's AirPower Qi charging pad will arrive, it appears that it may hit store shelves soon soon. According to a Tweet from charging watchdogs ChargerLab, mass production of the AirPower has begun at Luxshare Precision.

Breaking: AirPower is finally coming. We just learned from credible source in supply chain that the manufacture Luxshare Precision has already started producing Apple AirPower wireless charging pad. Luxshare Precision is also the maker of Apple AirPods and USB-C cables. pic.twitter.com/UqgWIAh3sx

-- ChargerLAB (@chargerlab)


Luxshare Precision has done a fair amount of Apple's accessory manufacturing for the last decade. Most notably, ChargerLab notes that the company handles some of the AirPods builds, as well as USB-C cabling for Apple.

From a historical perspective, ChargerLab has a good track record of predicting when charging accessories will arrive, and who manufactures them.

In 2017, at Apple's iPhone X event, Apple teased the AirPower, and promised it for 2018. We were even showed how it worked in the hands-on demonstration area after the reveal event.

Since the initial reveal, Apple seems to have wiped it from existence online, and didn't say a thing about it -- and Apple has let four event pass by without a mention. Over the last year, attempts by AppleInsider, and others, to get comment on the matter have been not just rebuffed, but outright refused.

Qi, the standard behind Apple's wireless charging in the iPhone 8, iPhone X, pair of iPhone XS models, and the iPhone XR can be easy to execute technically, or very hard, depending on choices that charging plate manufacturers want to make and how they want the charging pad to perform.

Apple's AirPower stands alone

At present, the most common Qi implementation allows for one device to be charged by one base station. Multiple devices are allowed on one charging plate, as evidenced by a slew of copycats that have popped up since the announcement of the AirPower.

There is no specific order for devices on the AirPower, like there are on some of those copycats. A Series 3 or Series 4 Apple Watch, the as-yet unreleased AirPods Wireless Charging Case, and a compatible iPhone can be placed just about anywhere on the pad, and isn't limited to specific locations or device order.

This is implicitly allowed by the Qi standard, and the standard spells out how to do it in theory. It just appears that nobody else has done it the way that Apple is trying to do, just yet.

How Qi works

The Qi standard relies on induction between two coils, or similar structures, to deliver power to a device that needs charging. The base station contains a transmitting coil that generates a oscillating magnetic field, which induces an alternating current in the receiving field.

The coils are aligned with each other in either guided positioning relying on the user to place a device in a specific position and alignment, or hardware can be built allowing for free positioning.

Free positioning is generally used in most charging plates, with relatively minor adjustments of less than a quarter-inch made by magnetic positioning or other mechanical apparatuses.

There are many charging pads at this point with multiple physical coils. However, Apple appears to be going in a different direction.




The Qi spec also allows for free positioning to be implemented by inducing a magnetic field just at the location of the receiving coil with multiple co-operative flux generators. Devices put on a plate communicate their location and identity, and the field is only induced under the device by the flux generators operating in tandem.

Apple appears to be using this method for a trio of devices that can be placed in any order, on any location on the pad. Apple's hands-on demonstration from 2017 showed this, and AppleInsider was able to put multiple devices anywhere on the pad, in any order. After doing so, the AirPower was communicating with the charging devices, and the iPhone on the pad was displaying information about the other charging devices.

Apple was said to have been stymied by heat concerns with the AirPower. Likely, the pad was having problems dissipating heat generated by the flux generators when devices in close proximity were charging. If Saturday's report is correct, the problem appears to be solved.

It isn't clear yet when Apple will issue an official statement on availability, nor what the pricepoint will be. AppleInsider expects it to retail for between $150 and $200.
patchythepirate
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 62
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,690member
    Wait! People thought Apple canned the product?
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 2 of 62
    mfrydmfryd Posts: 112member
    A number of local Apple stores are out of stock on AirPods, with delivery not expected until the end of the month.

    I wonder if we are about to see an update to an AirPod battery case that supports wireless charging?

    AppleExposedStrangeDayscaladanianradarthekatlongpathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 62
    When I worked in Apple product management we did not announce a product till it was working and available. 
    AppleExposednetmagechasmradarthekat80s_Apple_Guychakajonwonkothesanewelshdogsteveaulongpath
  • Reply 4 of 62
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 1,879member
    May be this time it's working to Apple's high standards/expectation so will be available in near future. Spring 2019 products announcement ?
    AppleExposedradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 62
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 632unconfirmed, member
    Cool. I thought of a better idea that I may send to Apple. Wonder if Cook will read it?

    Might as well tell the ideas:

    1. AirPower with a rechargeable battery. So you can disconnect it, slip it in your suitcase/purse/whatever and charge anywhere on the go!

    2. Rename it: AirPad.
    radarthekatlongpath
  • Reply 6 of 62
    mfryd said:
    A number of local Apple stores are out of stock on AirPods, with delivery not expected until the end of the month.

    I wonder if we are about to see an update to an AirPod battery case that supports wireless charging?

    I believe the wireless charging case is extra $70 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 62
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,566member
    So those of is with the Milanese Loop, it looks as though we'll have to disconnect one end of the loop connector from the Apple Watch body each time we charge up with AirPower. Kind of annoying, but it is what it is.
    caladanianchaickawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 62
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,626member
    Soli said:
    Wait! People thought Apple canned the product?
    Well it is quite a long time since the product was announced. It is quite unusual for Apple to announce a thing and then...crickets.

    i reckon AirPower fits the definition of vapourware until we finally hear something official.
  • Reply 9 of 62
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,699member
    entropys said:
    Soli said:
    Wait! People thought Apple canned the product?
    Well it is quite a long time since the product was announced. It is quite unusual for Apple to announce a thing and then...crickets.

    i reckon AirPower fits the definition of vapourware until we finally hear something official.
    On one hand I see this accessory to be a distraction from working on more core development.   Apple said that they were going to have their technology incorporated to the Qi standard.  We haven’t heard any thing more about that?  May be this is a product better produced by Anker, Belkin , of LogicTech.   

    On the other hand I would probably buy at least one.
  • Reply 10 of 62
    ElCapitan said:
    When I worked in Apple product management we did not announce a product till it was working and available. 
    Generally good advice, but inversely people whine if Apple is silent too. As for this time, I’m sure they had it in the bag but sometimes shit happens. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 62
    Cool. I thought of a better idea that I may send to Apple. Wonder if Cook will read it?

    Might as well tell the ideas:

    1. AirPower with a rechargeable battery. So you can disconnect it, slip it in your suitcase/purse/whatever and charge anywhere on the go!

    2. Rename it: AirPad.
    I have a feeling they don’t need your ideas. 
    mwhiten2itivguyberndogbonobobRayz2016watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 62
    lennlenn Posts: 36member
    Why does anyone really care about this thing? It's years overdue, will be way overpriced and there are better, cheaper things out there that due the same thing. Oh yea because there are idiots that pay $1k plus for a phone that will buy this thing. lol
    mike54williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 62
    ElCapitan said:
    When I worked in Apple product management we did not announce a product till it was working and available. 
    Generally good advice, but inversely people whine if Apple is silent too. As for this time, I’m sure they had it in the bag but sometimes shit happens. 
    People have always whined because Apple is too silent. Offset to that is the lack of trust that builds over time when promised products or services don't materialize. – Which IMO is worse.

    It is not like this is the first time this happens lately. 
    caladanianwonkothesane
  • Reply 14 of 62
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,277member
    As near as I can make out -- with some hints from helpful little birds -- this is what I believe happened:

    1. Apple execs were shown the innovative prototype, loved it, put it into production.
    2. Engineers discovered a serious issue (overheating) in quality testing.
    3. I believe the engineers resolved the issue only a few months later, but this involved some further innovation and changes in the design.
    4. New extremely thorough testing, new patents filed, new manufacturing process, wait for patents to be approved, et cetera = quite a long time.

    And thus here we are. While the silence was annoying, Apple never cancelled the product. I'd much rather they resolve the problem before sales commenced than do what most other companies would do -- sell the product knowing there could be an issue, and then do a recall after a few houses burnt down/people were injured.

    I'm hopeful this report is accurate and that in a few weeks Apple will make an announcement.
    caladanianshark5150radarthekatchaickaberndogpatchythepirateRayz2016designrwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 62
    On the one hand this would be really cool to own. On the other hand, I already bought a bunch of cheap qi chargers. (Though unfortunately they have stupid LEDs in them that are blinding and seem to be locked away inside a device that’s glued together so I can’t tape them over. 

    This is is a cool accessory and maybe after I have AirPods with the wireless case and after they add iPad support it might be worth it. 

    For it now though, I think there isn’t much that this can do that a few cheaper chargers can’t do. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 62
    Cool. I thought of a better idea that I may send to Apple. Wonder if Cook will read it?

    Might as well tell the ideas:

    1. AirPower with a rechargeable battery. So you can disconnect it, slip it in your suitcase/purse/whatever and charge anywhere on the go!

    2. Rename it: AirPad.
    A couple devices like that exist already… the catch is that you want some way to stick your device to it while it's bouncing around in your bag. I think one has some suction cups… 

    https://www.amazon.com/mophie-Powerstation-Wireless-External-Smartphones/dp/B01JCIJ2PO

    https://www.amazon.com/DoSHIn-Portable-20000mAh-External-Wireless/dp/B07H5BG6TH
  • Reply 17 of 62
    Its too late we now want a bigger version than that  not only that theirs replica version of this that cost lower an does a good job , it's a old product that doesn't need to exist, apple needs to create a bigger like a 30% bigger version to have multiple iphones to charge on it including the apple watch an airpods , btw I hate the damn airpods they make no sense 4 hours of battery life? 159$ does not make sense when powerbeats are now 80 dollars which I bought an has 12 hours of usage smh 
  • Reply 18 of 62
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,485member
    chasm said:
    As near as I can make out -- with some hints from helpful little birds -- this is what I believe happened:

    1. Apple execs were shown the innovative prototype, loved it, put it into production.
    2. Engineers discovered a serious issue (overheating) in quality testing.
    3. I believe the engineers resolved the issue only a few months later, but this involved some further innovation and changes in the design.
    4. New extremely thorough testing, new patents filed, new manufacturing process, wait for patents to be approved, et cetera = quite a long time.

    And thus here we are. While the silence was annoying, Apple never cancelled the product. I'd much rather they resolve the problem before sales commenced than do what most other companies would do -- sell the product knowing there could be an issue, and then do a recall after a few houses burnt down/people were injured.

    I'm hopeful this report is accurate and that in a few weeks Apple will make an announcement.
    I have to agree. This really isn't a big issue. It's an accessory and isn't revolutionary in any sense either. If it appears at some point, great , and if not, it would be somewhat embarrassing but hardly the end of the world.
    mwhitek2kwmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 19 of 62
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,012moderator
    lenn said:
    Why does anyone really care about this thing? It's years overdue, will be way overpriced and there are better, cheaper things out there that due the same thing. Oh yea because there are idiots that pay $1k plus for a phone that will buy this thing. lol
    I imagine one reason it’s taken longer is that inductive charging is lossy compared to direct wired charging.  Apple cares about the environment and part of that means using less power to perform the same compute tasks, to the extent possible.  I think Apple achieves this in its products relative to competition, by owning the design of, and optimizing, most of the technology stack, from battery to circuitry to software (OS).  Apple won’t like want to negate those efficiency gains with a lot of loss in the charging process, so you may expect to hear in any AirPowrr announcement/marketing about charging being more efficient than the bulk of the competition.  
  • Reply 20 of 62
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,012moderator

    On the one hand this would be really cool to own. On the other hand, I already bought a bunch of cheap qi chargers. (Though unfortunately they have stupid LEDs in them that are blinding and seem to be locked away inside a device that’s glued together so I can’t tape them over. 

    This is is a cool accessory and maybe after I have AirPods with the wireless case and after they add iPad support it might be worth it. 

    For it now though, I think there isn’t much that this can do that a few cheaper chargers can’t do. 
    Borrow your wife’s/girlfriend’s darkest nail polish.  Dab a bit on those LEDs
    Eric_WVGGchaickaberndogMplsP
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