A hands-on video gives us a unique glimpse of what the AirPower could have been, Apple’s famous multi-device wireless charger unfortunately nipped in the bud.
Youtube channels 91Tech and Apple Demo got their hands on a prototype AirPower from 2017. It’s not the first to surface, but the grip that both media outlets have of it is surely the best overview of this product that good number of Apple fans were waiting.
Teased as a One More Thing after the iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch keynote in September 2017, the AirPower was supposed to be a wireless charger designed for users to place an iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch over any part of its surface for the device to charge. Too complex, the project has been put on hold even if the most hardcore Apple Makers – and even Apple itself – still seems to believe in it.
Like other AirPower prototypes that have emerged in the past, the unit does not feature a polished design with a white outer shell as seen in Apple’s marketing materials at the time. Here, we can clearly see its internal circuitry.
Although the prototype in the video above is not fully functional, it was possible to connect to it through Terminal on a Mac using some Apple developer tools that are not publicly available. Errors during the initial start-up of the AirPower unit suggest that it was never calibrated and therefore probably never used.
By fiddling around with the device, 91Tech was able to find quite a bit of information about the prototype like the firmware install date, June 7, 2017, commands to select specific coils, and more. The AirPower prototype features 22 coils and is similar to others that have leaked in the past. According to several AirPower-related patent filings, Apple had envisioned versions with 16 or 22 coils, and the 22-coil design appears to be the one Cupertino went with.
The AirPower Charger missed its originally scheduled launch in 2018, and after a number of routs during its development, Apple canceled the project outright in March 2019. In any case, this relic remains an extremely rare collector’s item and above all the witness of a soap opera that ignited the tech market.