Remember when Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat was announced alongside the iPhone X in 2017, only for Apple to cancel its production two years later? YouTube channels Apple Demo and Unbox Therapy have brought that memory back with a video demonstrating a rare working prototype, per a report from MacRumors.
The Apple AirPower was designed to simultaneously charge the iPhone, AirPods, and Apple Watch. However, the wireless charging mat’s design was flawed because its power distribution relied on the location of each device on the mat despite having 22 overlapping coils, and every device required different amounts of power. The prototype that was unboxed by Unbox Therapy had only one functioning coil on the bottom right corner of the mat with external circuitry exposed in the back, and each device had to be placed on it in a certain position in order to draw power without the charging light flickering on and off.
To use the Apple AirPower prototype, Unbox Therapy used a MacBook Pro USB-C port with a genuine Apple Lighting to USB-C cable. Apple Demo recommended that the only Apple device models that should be charged are the iPhone X, AirPods, and Apple Watch models without MagSafe magnets — any newer models could have damaged the charging mat if they draw more power. No matter what device was placed on the mat, it had to be charged for only a minute because it has a cooldown period of five minutes before other Apple devices are placed on the one working coil.
As demonstrated in the video, the Apple AirPower prototype does work, but the issues it presented clue us in on the reasons Apple canceled the launch of the final product. AirPower was difficult to make because it overheated very easily, and it did not communicate properly with the Apple products it was charging. And even if Apple did release AirPower, there are other wireless charging stations that work better, albeit with different designs.
This one marks a rare instance in which Apple, the most genius tech company in the world, had to cancel a product that would’ve been received well by its loyal customers had it worked like it was supposed to — and worked well with iPhone models beyond the iPhone X.