Apple Card and wireless charging don’t play well together


Apple Card with iPhone
A wireless charger can’t send power to this iPhone through an Apple Card.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The end might be near for iPhone cases with slots to hold credit cards now that the Apple Card is starting to roll out. Not because this new credit card will make them unnecessary, but because tests by Cult of Mac show that putting an Apple Card in one of these wallet cases blocks the iPhone inside from wireless charging.

Fans of this type of case will need to decide how much they want Apple’s new credit card, or if they‘re willing to give up on wireless charging.

Wireless charging versus titanium

The Qi wireless charging standard used by iPhones is robust enough to transmit power through a leather case and couple of credit cards. Ordinary credit cards, that is.

The Apple Card isn’t ordinary. Rather than plastic it’s made of titanium. And that layer of metal prevents inductive charging.

Inductive Charging 101

A bit of science explains the blockage. Qi wireless charging uses magnetic fields to induce current across a small gap. Titanium and other metals absorb the magnetic field, so induction can’t happen. At least not where it’s supposed to.

That’s one of the reasons the back of the iPhone is glass — this material doesn’t interfere with wireless charging. And why plastic credit cards and leather cases allow an iPhone to charge without being plugged in.

All iOS handsets since the iPhone 8 include this feature, which saves users the hassle of frequently plugging and unplugging their handset.

Real-world confirmation

In recent months, Cult of Mac has reviewed multiple wireless chargers, like the Courant Catch:2, Twelve South HiRise Wireless and the Satechi Wireless Charger V2. All of these flawlessly charged an iPhone XS Max in a Mujjo Full Leather Wallet Case, even through a drivers license and a plastic credit card.

That’s not true if an Apple Card gets involved. Tests with all these devices showed that they can’t transmit power through titanium. Instead, each of these chargers indicate it has encountered an obstruction. Take the Apple Card out, and all of them begin charging as normal.

To be clear, this is not the fault of Mujjo’s case. Putting this metal card between the “naked” iPhone and any of these chargers will prevent power from flowing.

Apple Card is still compelling

The Apple Card has already drawn praise for being very consumer friendly. It comes with software designed to make tracking purchases easy, and to minimize or eliminate interest payments.

There is a lot of preliminary interest, but even so this issue with the construction of Apple’s new credit card is only going to affect a subset of iPhone users. They have to use a wallet case and a wireless charger, and be planning to get an Apple Card too, of course. Still, all three of these are popular, or will be soon. Be aware that they can’t be used together.