The AirPower saga rumbles on, and it looks like Apple's troubled hybrid wireless charger may finally be hobbling/swaggering towards a release date towards the end of this year.
It's been a rollercoaster ride for fans of multi-device charging pads. AirPower reached such an advanced stage of development that the usually mum-keeping Cupertino company recklessly announced it in public at the iPhone X launch in 2017; then it got delayed and forgotten; then Apple cancelled the whole thing and apologised.
But that wasn't the end of the story. Roughly a month ago we published AirPower project back on, 'prototyping underway', a moderately optimistic article based on the predictions of a leaker named Jon Prosser who reckoned Apple's design team "haven't given up yet and they're trying to re-engineer the coils to displace heat more effectively".
At the time we were only somewhat convinced by this leak, noting sniffily that "most of [Prosser's] successful predictions have related to Google; it's hard to know if his Apple contacts are up to the same standard". (Indeed the man himself insisted that there was "no guarantee that they'll finalise and release it".) But this was before Prosser called the iPhone SE correctly and became a star, which casts a new light on older predictions like this one.
And we're now starting to get more details from other sources.
Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst whose credentials are beyond reproach, said earlier in 2020 that the company is considering a version of AirPower which charges only a single device at a time, which would avoid the seemingly insurmountable overheating issues which afflicted the product in late development. (It would also remove the selling point of the whole concept, which is that it charges multiple devices optimally by calculating the correct amount of power to send to each one, but there you go.) Now another leaker has corroborated that prediction by naming product codes for single- and multi-device versions of AirPower.
The C68, as credited in the tweet, was already out there thanks to that man Prosser. On 13 April - again, before the iPhone SE changed our perception of his calls - he tweeted a concept of the product and predicted that it would have "fewer coils with less overlap" and an A11 chip to "dynamically manage heat". He later said the C68 was a prototype being sent out to Apple engineers working from home.
Here's my concept of "C68"— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) April 13, 2020
Apple's most current internal prototype.
- Fewer coils, with less overlap
- A11 chip inside to manage heat
- Lightning cable on right side
(Though I'd expect that to change on the retail models)
If they pull it off — expected Q4 2020 / Q1 2021
~ $250 pic.twitter.com/sjViqjn0As
Prosser added that the AirPower - in this three-device form - would cost roughly $250 and come out in Q4 2020 or Q1 2021. That still feels a long way off, but considering where AirPower was a few months ago it's progress.
Read the latest rumours and leaks in our roundup AirPower release date, price & specs.