What is AirPower? Everything you need to know about Apple’s wireless charger

Apple teased us with its innovative AirPower wireless charging mat way back at the launch of the iPhone X in late 2017, but it likely won’t be until the iPhone XS is in stores that we’ll see it actually hit the scene.

What is wireless charging?

If you’ve not heard of Apple’s AirPower mat, it’s essentially a fancy wireless charging pad. There are already hundreds of examples of wireless charging pads already out there from a host of manufacturers including Samsung and Belkin.

Depending on the supported device you’re trying to charge wirelessly it’ll likely adhere to one of two of the most common wireless charging standards out there, PMA or Qi. In the case of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, all three devices charge wirelessly via standard Qi charging.

Power is transferred from the charging pad to the battery in the phone by way of alternating electromagnetic induction, using coils that are designed to emit and receive electromagnetic waves in both the charger and the handset respectively.

Which devices are compatible with AirPower?

Apple’s AirPower mat is a little bit different to a standard wireless charger, which can typically only accommodate a single device at a time. Apple’s solution aims to deliver on the promise of being able to throw your device anywhere on the mat and guarantee that it’ll start charging wirelessly. What’s more, as seen in the first product images for the AirPower mat last year, you’ll be able to charge multiple devices simultaneously in seemingly any orientation – thanks to the fact that it supposedly contains 22 individual charging coils.

Assuming the AirPower mat still relies on Qi charging, which would make sense based on the iPhone X’s current wireless charging compatibility, it’ll likely support the iPhone X, forthcoming iPhone 9, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, any iteration of Apple Watch and the company’s wireless earphones, AirPods, provided they’re housed in the still-unreleased wireless charging-compatible case.

There’s every chance that if it is a Qi-based charger, any other device that supports the standard, like the Samsung Galaxy S9, will also be able to charge on Apple’s charger.

When will the first AirPower mat be available?

Considering Apple first showed its AirPower mat off last year, many have been left wondering (us included) why it’s taken the company so long to get it onto store shelves.

Reports suggest that the technical challenges associated with making a multi-device wireless charging pad that can charge in any position aren’t trivial. Overheating has been a serious issue during AirPower’s development and it’s apparently the reason the prototype version now supposedly possesses 22 charging coils that can be controlled to deliver power independently. What’s more Apple’s gone so far as to integrate its own custom chip running a modified version of iOS, with a focus on some advanced form of power management.

While Apple is yet to dish out an official launch date is still unclear but with the impending iPhone XS launch event on September 12, we’re keeping everything cross that we’ll find out when AirPower will be available too. The fact that it’s still featured on Apple’s website also gives us hope that the company hasn’t just decided to cut its losses and throw in the towel.

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How much will the Apple AirPower mat cost?

As for pricing, based on everything we’ve talked about, it’s likely to be expensive. With that custom coil architecture, custom chipset, tweaked version of iOS, custom power management and the simple fact that it’s a first-party Apple accessory, it’s unlikely to sit beneath the £100/$100 mark.

Apple currently offers the likes of Belkin’s Boost Up wireless charging pad for around £60/$60, but that’s a standard 7.5W single-pad charger. Early reports suggest that the AirPower mat will cost closer to $150/£130.

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