Apple announced the AirPower charging mat in September 2017 with a promise to release it the following year. That never happened and the project was eventually shelved officially in February 2019.
Fast forward a year, and reports
emerged claiming Apple had restarted work on the controversial wireless charger. Now, an image of what is allegedly an early prototype has leaked.
Apple's new AirPower features the A11 Bionic chipset
The low-resolution image, which arrives courtesy of YouTuber and part-time leaker Jon Prosser
, was taken by an employee on the 'Sharing and Proximity' team who received a prototype unit to work on from home. It showcases an upcoming product that is known internally as "C68" and looks virtually identical to the original AirPower charging mat that was scrapped last year.
That might seem a little odd to some people, but it is perfectly possible because the issues with AirPower laid on the inside. Apple faced problems with its internal layout due to the presence of several overlapping coils which had a tendency to overheat.
The situation wasn't helped by the Apple Watch
, which uses a tweaked proprietary charging method that requires more energy. In previous prototypes, when employees placed an Apple Watch on the charging mat with other devices, it's claimed AirPower would simply overheat and, in most cases, "combust."
The version that is pictured allegedly uses the Apple A11 Bionic chipset on the inside to "dynamically manage heat." The AirPower-like prototype reportedly has the ability to "route power to specific coil regions" and wait for "temperatures to drop before applying more power – preventing it from overheating."
Apple doesn't seem to have finalized a release timeline for the revised wireless charging
mat, which isn't surprising considering it is still in the early stages of prototyping. But reports suggest an iPhone with no ports is planned for release in late 2021, making an introduction alongside that flagship product extremely likely.
Of course, if the Tim Cook-led company can get the prototype ready before that, an early launch is certainly possible.