A new Apple AirPods case could act as a portable wireless iPhone charger, a new rumor suggests, allowing the headphones to deliver an impromptu top-up when your smartphone is running low on power. The whispers come as Apple is believed to be busy trying to iron the lingering bugs out of AirPower, its yet-to-be-launched wireless charging pad.
AirPower was announced alongside the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus late last year, as Apple’s official wireless charger for the smartphone. The charging pad was much more ambitious than most third-party chargers. Instead of focusing on a single device, it could charge up to three simultaneously, regardless of where they were placed on the upper surface.
Since Apple’s nebulous “in 2018” launch promise for AirPower, however, the pad has been conspicuous by its absence from store shelves. Reports last week suggested the challenges of making the multi-device charger – which is said to run a pared-back version of iOS – had proved more significant than the company expected, forcing a postponement of the original internal launch schedule. Instead, it’s said to be on course for a September 2018 release.
Now, Apple’s other charging plans are being discussed. A new report in the Nikkei claims the Cupertino firm is also working on an AirPods case which could double as a wireless charger. That gadget, though only roughly described, would combine not only a holder and charger for the AirPods wireless Bluetooth headphones but also be able to donate some of its battery power to an iPhone.
Apple has confirmed it’s working on a wirelessly-charging version of the AirPods case, and in fact demonstrated it in prototype form at the iPhone X and AirPower launch. Despite the addition of wireless charging hardware, it looked ostensibly identical to the current AirPods case. That contains a mere 1.52 Wh lithium-ion battery, mind.
If Apple wanted to use a future AirPods case as a mobile battery for iPhone, it would need to significantly enlarge it. Indeed it could look to combine an AirPods case with something along the lines of the wirelessly-charging portable batteries that Mophie launched back in 2016. They combined a li-ion battery with an integrated Qi charging pad.
Such a device would certainly be less portable than the current AirPods case. However it would also fit with what’s believed to be Apple’s eventual goal of removing cables from the iPhone equation altogether. The company reportedly considered doing away with the Lightning port on the iPhone X last year, opting to replace it entirely with wireless charging. The technology was deemed too slow in comparison, and wireless chargers too expensive to include in the box, for that to happen.
Nonetheless the assumption is that Apple has merely postponed that, not abandoned it altogether. According to today’s leak, the new AirPods wireless charging headphone case could launch as soon as the end of 2018. At the same time, Apple is believed to be working on a new version of AirPods with active noise cancellation, along with a set of over-the-ear headphones.