Apple took to the stage in September 2017 to announce the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, two new iPhones that offer wireless charging capabilities. In true Apple fashion, the company is also developing its own wireless charging mat to provide up to three iOS devices at once with wireless power.
That wireless charging pad is called AirPower, and here, we discuss the possible release date and pricing of the accessory, along with the design, features and iOS device compatibility.
Apple AirPower UK release date and pricing
While the announcement of Apple’s own wireless charging mat is exciting, don’t expect it to be available for a while yet. Despite the announcement at Apple’s iPhone event in September 2017, Apple confirmed that AirPower isn’t due to be released until 2018 and is yet to provide a concrete release date.
As this is the first wireless charging mat Apple has developed, we haven’t got past releases to use to make a prediction about the AirPower wireless charger. If it does take a similar approach to the original Apple Watch (September announcement, March reveal), we expect to see Apple’s AirPower wireless charger to become available at some point in Q1 2018.
But what about price? Apple is well-known to add an ‘Apple tax’ to its products, making them more expensive than the majority of the competition, but will this also be the case with AirPower?
While it’s tough to say at the moment, we imagine that the technical advances of AirPower (that we discuss below) point towards a premium price tag. Considering that the third-party Belkin wireless charger costs £55 with none of the features offered by AirPower, it’s possible that AirPower could hit the £100 mark.
Apple AirPower design and build
In terms of design, Apple’s AirPower wireless charger doesn’t look that different to the plethora of wireless chargers already available.
Based on the video showcase at Apple’s September 2017 keynote, we know that the AirPower is a white mat large enough to accompany three devices (iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods) at the same time, with a single power lead connected to the wireless charger.
While wireless charging is provided, the wireless charger itself still needs to be plugged in – something that may sound obvious to some, but it’s worth pointing out for those new to the world of wireless charging.
Apple AirPower features and spec
So, what makes Apple’s AirPower wireless charger better than anything else on the market? First up it’s built on the Qi wireless charging standard, although we’re not sure at this time whether the AirPower will be compatible with any Qi-enabled device.
As announced by Apple during the September 2017 keynote, AirPower is the first wireless charger capable of charging three device at once, and it doesn’t matter where on the surface each device is laid – it should still receive the charge.
It doesn’t stop there either, as AirPower also has the ability to intelligently manage the charging system by allowing all compatible devices to ‘communicate’ between each other.
“The system has a great interface. They intelligently work together and communicate with each other to manage the charging through one more efficient charging system. This is not possible with current standards but our team knows how to do this.” Tim Cook said on stage at the event.
That means that if you’re charging both your AirPods and iPhone 8 on the AirPower, the devices should communicate with each other and ‘decide’ how much power each device requires.
The current charge of all devices on the AirPower mat will also be displayed on the iPhone 8/X if it’s also on charge, another feature not offered by other wireless chargers.
Apple AirPower device compatibility
Will my existing iOS device be compatible with AirPower? Unless you’ve got yourself an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X when it’s released in November, you won’t be able to charge your iPhone using AirPower.
It’s a similar story with the AirPods – despite Apple showcasing wireless charging on AirPods at the announcement, existing AirPod cases aren’t Qi-enabled. The Qi-enabled AirPods case should be made available before the release of AirPower, but no solid release date is yet in place.
We’re not so sure about the Apple Watch, though. It’s confirmed as being compatible with the newly announced Apple Watch Series 3, but whether previous generations are compatible is yet to be seen.
Older Watches use wireless charging based on the Qi standard, but require MFi-based authentication. It’s possible that Apple will offer this in its own wireless charging mat, but only time will tell.
Don’t be disheartened though – there are ways of getting wireless charging on older iPhones, it just isn’t built-in.