When Apple announced the iPhone 8 and iPhone X - the first iPhones to offer wireless charging - it also revealed that it is also developing its own wireless charging mat on which it will be possible to charge three Apple devices at once: an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods.

That wireless charging pad will be 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 has also filed a patent for the device which could give us an insight into features we might see in the future; read more about Apple's wireless charging patent here.

AirPower is not the only wireless charger that will work with iPhone, of course. We've also rounded up some of the best wireless chargers available now.

AirPower release date

At the iPhone event in September 2017, Apple confirmed that AirPower wouldn't be released until 2018: "Look for the AirPower charger next year," said Phil Schiller. More than six months later the company is yet to provide a concrete release date.

In the small print of some marketing materials the company has used the phrase "early 2018", which would ordinarily point to April or before. In fact, two separate reports led us to expect a launch in March - an Apple Post report from Feb and another from DigiTimes - but nothing was announced at or around the education-focused event on 27 March.

Evidently Apple is still trying to get AirPower ready for launch, and while a launch by the end of April is needed to properly fit the "early 2018" phrase, it wouldn't surprise us if the company held it back until WWDC in June. Some pundits even think that "early 2018" was an error by someone in marketing, since the public announcements have only ever said "2018".

Note, however, that AirPower has already had its big announcement, so would not necessarily have to wait for a press event. When it's ready, Apple will simply pop it into the online store and post a notice on its website.

Price

As for the 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?

We expected that the technical advances of AirPower (that we discuss below) will point towards a premium price tag.

Polish retailer X-Kom is showing the AirPower priced at 999 Złotych - that's about £211 or $294. However, the price might not be as high as that: As noted by Polish blog ThinkApple, many products that cost 999 Złotych on the Polish site are priced at $199 in the US. It could, however, just be a placeholder until official pricing is confirmed, we'll just have to wait and see for sure.

While Apple is still preparing its AirPower for launch, a Chinese company has started producing an AirPower mini. Like Apple's AirPower, this AirPower can charge an Apple watch and iPhone X simultaneously. It will cost $15. It is likely that Apple will not be happy about the use of the AirPower brand, and it's very unlikely that the charger will be accredited as MFi (Made for iPhone) by 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.

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.

Apple has filed a patent for a wireless charging device that could give us an insight to some other features it could offer, via AppleWorldToday. The patent suggests that the device could also transmit wireless power signals to a wireless power receiving electronic device, which could pave the way for true wireless charging - as in charging over the air, rather than vi conduction when placed on a mat.

However, this technology may be a little further down the road. For now it seems that the AirPower will be 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.

AirPower device compatibility

Will existing iOS device be compatible with AirPower? Unless you've got yourself an iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus or iPhone X, 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. AirPower is confirmed as being compatible with the Apple Watch Series 3, but whether previous generations are compatible is yet to be seen.

A report has appeared in Japanese website Macotakara suggesting that AirPower will detect the Apple Watch Series 3 by "special radio waves" a function "available only to Apple". This is the only way it's possible to charge the Watch Series 3, because of its Apple Watch Magnetic Charging Cable, according to the Japanese site.

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.