Apple's AirPower Wireless Charging Mat Reportedly Crashed And Burned Due To Overheating Fears

Apple announced the AirPower wireless charting mat in 2017 when it introduced the iPhone X. At the time, the company touted its ability to simultaneously charge an iPhone, the Apple Watch and AirPods. While compatible with the Qi wireless standard, it also had some of Apple’s own proprietary secret sauce added to optimize performance with its products.

However, as we strolled further into 2018, there was still no official word from Apple on AirPower or when it would be released. During its iPhone/Apple Watch event held last week at the Spaceship campus, Apple made nary a mention of AirPower. In fact, the company did its best to scrub nearly every mention of the device from its website. So, what’s going on?

apple airpower

According to Apple watcher Sonny Dickson, one of the primary issues that plagued AirPower was heat generation. The excess heat caused performance issues and negatively impacted the custom wireless charging chip that controlled the accessory. Further complicating matters is the fact that AirPower is actually running on a stripped-down version of iOS.

There were also issues raised with the ability for accessories like the AirPods earphones and Apple Watch to deliver their charging state to a paired iPhone. Finally, there were tricky issues with regards to managing interference according to Dickson. “What is thought to be a significant factor in the ongoing engineering struggle is that three different sizes of coils must overlap within each coil set, which, combined with the very compact size of the device, makes managing interference and heat an extremely daunting technical challenge.” 

Dickson said that some of these technical hurdles could be overcome if Apple would simply make the device thicker and a bit larger, but that runs counter to the company’s design principles. “While it is still -possible- for the AirPower, or a similar device not yet shown to the public, to debut before the end of the year, broad consensus among engineers suggests that this is highly unlikely,” Dickson added.

Well-respected Apple blogger John Gruber also added in what his “little birdies” told him about what’s going on with AirPower. “What I’ve heard, third-hand but from multiple little birdies, is that AirPower really is well and truly f—ked… There are engineers who looked at AirPower’s design and said it could never work, thermally, and now those same engineers have that ‘told you so’ smug look on their faces.

“I think they’ve either had to go completely back to the drawing board and start over with an entirely different design, or they’ve decided to give up and they just don’t want to say so.”

Given that AirPower is being given the cold shoulder on Apple’s website, we’ll go with Gruber’s latter hypothesis…