Nixed bilateral charging could have been iPhone 11 Pro exclusive

By

iPhone 11 teardown disassembled
Taking an iPhone 11 to pieces finds no sign of one rumored feature, but hints Apple Tags could still be on the way.
Photo: iFixit

A teardown of the iPhone 11 finds Apple’s less-expensive handset lacks any sign of inverse wireless charging. iFixit did discover hardware possibly related to this rumored feature in the iPhone 11 Pro series, however.

An X-ray of the iPhone 11 does turn up evidence of ultra-wideband support, however. That will prove important if Apple launches the item-tracking tags that also showed up in many rumors.

No reverse wireless charging in iPhone 11

Respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted early this year that the 2019 iOS devices would be able to not just wirelessly receive power but also send it to other Qi-compatible devices. Such a feature could power up wireless-charging AirPods, or perhaps give a friend’s iPhone an emergency boost. But Apple did not even mention bilateral charging when showcasing the 2019 iPhone lineup a few weeks ago.

When iFixit disassembled an iPhone 11 Pro Max, some quirks in the design suggested that Apple at least partially built inverse wireless charging into the device. The battery comes with two connectors, not a feature of any predecessor. And there’s a board near the battery that iFixit’s techs can’t explain.

Neither of these features appeared during the company’s teardown of the iPhone 11, however. And iFixit’s Whitson Gordon does not think the wireless charging coil in this model would have been up to sending power: “If bilateral charging were included in the final production design, we wouldn’t necessarily expect to see a radically altered coil — but a bigger battery and additional thermal management would almost certainly be required, as reverse wireless charging is thirsty and inefficient, throwing off a lot of heat. In the case of the standard iPhone 11, we’re not seeing it.”

Ultra-wideband antenna and Apple Tags a possibility

The situation looks completely opposite for a different rumored feature. Both the iPhone 11 and both iPhone 11 Pro models include what iFixit thinks might be an ultra-wideband antenna.

UWB transmissions broadcast signals across a broad swath of the radio spectrum. They can be used for tracking items, with the distance between the sender and receiver being determined with great accuracy. These signals also travel well through walls.

Apple will use this tech in item-tracking tags, according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst from TF International Securities. Like Tile trackers, you would apparently attach Apple Tags to keys and other items, making them easy to find if misplaced.

iOS 13 includes the software needed for Apple Tags. Many observers still think Apple will announce the product before the end of the year.

Source: iFixit