Apple AirPower

Last Friday, Apple finally announced the death of AirPower. The wireless charger never really saw the light of the day and after a delay of a couple of years, Apple decided it was best to cancel the product altogether. The company’s announcement, however, was light on details as to why it was killing the charger except for saying that it did not meet its “high standards.”

So what exactly forced Apple to cancel AirPower? Signs up to iOS 12.2 beta pointed to AirPower launch well and truly being imminent so why the last minute change? As iFixit explains, the reason behind AirPower not performing up to Apple’s high standards could be due to overheating and interference due to its 8-7-7 coil placement.

Every coil inside a wireless charger creates an electromagnetic field. This field is what allows your phone to charge wirelessly as the charging coil inside it is able to induce electricity in the coil. The problem is that every coil generates some kind of noise and interference. Usually, wireless chargers come with 3 or 5 coils and thus interference and noise from them can be easily managed.

Noise from a single coil might not be a problem, but each charging coil generates a slightly different waveform. When those waves overlap, the constructive interference intensifies their strength. Just like when two ocean waves collide and combine their height, radio frequencies can combine their intensity as they interact.

This can have some serious repercussions and can be life threating in some instances as well.

“Over time, these harmonics add up and they become really powerful signals in the air,” explains William Lumpkins, VP of Engineering at O & S Services. “And that can be difficult—that can stop someone’s pacemaker if it’s too high of a level. Or it could short circuit someone’s hearing aid.” If Apple’s multi-coil layout was spinning off harmonics left and right, it’s possible AirPower couldn’t pass muster with US or EU regulations.

With Apple planning on using an 8-7-7 coil setup inside AirPower, it is not surprising that the company ended up facing overheating and interference issues on AirPower. Apple went with the 8-7-7 setup since it wanted to create a wireless charger where one could place their device anywhere on the pad and it would start charging itself. That’s not possible with other wireless chargers in the market right now. If the device or phone does not align perfectly with the coil inside the wireless charger, the device would not start charging.

It is likely that Apple got the AirPower to work in its labs and only, later on, realized that it was not meeting the FCC guidelines for Electro-Magnetic Interference of FCC. By then, it was too late for the company to make any more changes to the AirPower to workaround the problem and thus it decided to scrap AirPower altogether.

The 8-7-7 coil setup also meant that Apple was pumping too much power into a very small area to generate a wide enough charging field which in turn caused overheating issues.

We Want to Hear From You

What do you think about the above analogy? It definitely makes the most sense to me. If the 8-7-7 coil setup would have been possible, other accessory makers would have pulled it off by now but that has not happened yet. Do you think we are going to see Apple announce a new AirPower alternative later this year alongside the iPhone 11? Drop a comment and let us know!

[Via iFixit]