iPhone 12 boasts latent reverse wireless charging feature, FCC filing suggests

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2020
A Federal Communications Commission filing hints at a latent iPhone 12 feature that could one day allow the handset to wirelessly charge other accessories.




Apple's iPhone 12 series could be hiding a major feature that was rumored to debut with last year's iPhone 11 devices. Known as reverse wireless charging or "bilateral" wireless charging, the functionality enables smartphones to use their inductive charging coil to juice up smaller accessories or even other phones.

Evidence that Apple's new iPhone range might support the feature showed up in a recent regulatory filing detailing the company's 2020 handsets. Discovered by VentureBeat's Jeremy Horwitz, the document seemingly references the new MagSafe protocol that debuted alongside iPhone 12 this month.

"In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhone models also support WPT charging function at 360 kHz to charge accessories [including] an external potential apple accessory in future," the filing reads, according to Horwitz.

iPhone 12 MagSafe
Source: iFixit


While mere speculation, the feature as described could enable charging of attached MagSafe accessories, including unannounced devices like a next-generation AirPods product. Just yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Apple will deliver new AirPods models, including a second-generation AirPods Pro, in early 2021.

Apple was previously rumored to bring reverse charging to iPhone in early 2019. At the time, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that year's iPhone -- what would become iPhone 11 -- to feature "bilateral" wireless charging. The report was later seconded by supply chain sources, though Apple ultimately nixed those plans.

Today's discovery suggests Apple continued work on the charging feature and integrated functionality into its MagSafe protocol. In theory, reverse wireless charging could be activated via a software update, but it remains unclear if and when Apple intends to do so.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    Apple will not enable it. If they haven’t announced it as “coming soon” then they won’t throw a surprise and add it later.
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 1,385member
    I guess that’s cool. Truthfully though, I’ve never once heard an Android user brag about this ability, nor an iPhone user lament its absence. It’s always seemed rather gimmicky to me, and once the 11 came out no one really talked about it again. But maybe they’ve come up with some novel use for it that will make it more compelling in the future. A MagSafe AirPods Pro case, perhaps?
    kkqd1337macpluspluswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    roakeroake Posts: 784member
    This feature would grant additional flexibility and choices, which I think is always good.
    PetrolDavelkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    I can foresee an MagSafe Apple Battery pack that when attached can be charged via this feature thru the iPhones Lightning adapter.  It will also be able to charge when attached to the MagSafe charger. 
    smiffy31radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    jdb8167jdb8167 Posts: 624member
    Most likely the external potential Apple accessory in the future is the Apple AirTags. The key word is potential because at this point I’m skeptical that they are coming at all.
    PetrolDaveradarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 6,297member
    Japhey said:
    I guess that’s cool. Truthfully though, I’ve never once heard an Android user brag about this ability, nor an iPhone user lament its absence. It’s always seemed rather gimmicky to me, and once the 11 came out no one really talked about it again. But maybe they’ve come up with some novel use for it that will make it more compelling in the future. A MagSafe AirPods Pro case, perhaps?
    It's basically a good last resort feature to have. If the hardware is there it makes sense to make the option available. The same applies to reverse wired charging.

    Obviously you'd need enough spare on the host phone to make it worthwhile in the first place so a phone with a relatively high capacity out of the gate is ideal. 
    radarthekat
  • Reply 7 of 18
    If AirTags are a real thing, this might be a great way to charge them. 
    kkqd1337razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    If AirTags are a real thing, this might be a great way to charge them. 
    Good point. Hadn’t thought of that. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    If AirTags are a real thing, this might be a great way to charge them. 
    The iPhone battery is too tiny to charge anything more than that
  • Reply 10 of 18
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,999member
    kkqd1337 said:
    If AirTags are a real thing, this might be a great way to charge them. 
    The iPhone battery is too tiny to charge anything more than that

    Oh, please. Time to block this troll.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,999member
    roake said:
    This feature would grant additional flexibility and choices, which I think is always good.

    This would help when my wife forgets to charge her phone and leaves the house with a nearly drained battery.
    Japheywatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    flydogflydog Posts: 1,094member
    simply258 said:
    Apple will not enable it. If they haven’t announced it as “coming soon” then they won’t throw a surprise and add it later.
    Is there a law that prohibits releasing a feature simply because a company hasn't announced it as "coming soon"?  If that was the case then AirTags will never be released either since the U1 chip was added to iPhones years ago. 

    The logic (or lack thereof) of some people is baffling. 
    edited October 2020 mike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    flydog said:
    simply258 said:
    Apple will not enable it. If they haven’t announced it as “coming soon” then they won’t throw a surprise and add it later.
    Is there a law that prohibits releasing a feature simply because a company hasn't announced it as "coming soon"?  If that was the case then AirTags will never be released either since the U1 chip was added to iPhones years ago. 

    The logic (or lack thereof) of some people is baffling. 
    No but it’s not what Apple does  https://twitter.com/sonnydickson/status/1172352571807191040?s=21
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    mike1 said:
    roake said:
    This feature would grant additional flexibility and choices, which I think is always good.

    This would help when my wife forgets to charge her phone and leaves the house with a nearly drained battery.
    It really won't.  This is primarily for small accessory items. Those Samsung reverse wireless charging commercials showing phones charging phones were marketing BS.  It's basically a 1-ish watt trickle charge.  Unfortunately that would do nearly nothing in your spousal hypothetical.  It would provide a boost up to devices like AirPods, AirTags, and such.  Not a full charge mind you, but a "just enough to get you to a charger type of boost up".
    radarthekat
  • Reply 15 of 18
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    simply258 said:
    Apple will not enable it. If they haven’t announced it as “coming soon” then they won’t throw a surprise and add it later.
    Why? It's not like they haven't done things like that in the past.

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/07/01/30/apple_serves_up_199_airport_extreme_80211n_enabler
    edited October 2020
  • Reply 16 of 18
    Wouldn’t risk battery health. Nice feature otherwise.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    simply258 said:
    Apple will not enable it. If they haven’t announced it as “coming soon” then they won’t throw a surprise and add it later.
    I had a 2nd? gen iPod Touch that had a Bluetooth chip in it but wasn’t announced, and then was later enabled later through software.

    They are not necessarily above releasing hardware that is not currently enabled.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,877member
    Magsafe carrier for your airpods would be fun.
    No need for a battery in the case they'd always leach off the phone battery.
    watto_cobra
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