Leaked AirPower pictures suggest fix for Apple Watch charging issues [Updated]

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airPower
Will Apple finally be able to deliver on its promise?
Photo: Apple

Apple reportedly cracked one of the big problems with its ill-fated AirPower charging mat — specifically the question of how to charge the Apple Watch. That’s according to top Apple leaker Jon Prosser, who posted pictures on Twitter Thursday to prove his point.

“Remember how I said that the main problem was that current prototypes didn’t support Apple Watch?” Prosser wrote. “Yeah. Well. They got the Watch working.”

Prosser refers to “C68,” the prototype code name for the AirPower. In a previous April tweet, Prosser wrote that, while working from home, engineers from Apple’s “Sharing and Proximity” team received prototypes of the device so they could develop software for it.

“Because the Apple Watch uses a tweaked proprietary charging method, it requires more energy to charge,” Prosser wrote. “In previous prototypes, if you placed an Apple Watch on the mat alongside other devices, the entire mat would overheat, and in most cases, combust. (Not joking) Using the A11 [chip], this new prototype has the ability to route power to specific coil regions and can dynamically wait for temperatures to drop before applying more power – preventing it from overheating. The technology is kind of incredible.”

Questions arise about authenticity

After Prosser posted his latest picture, one eagle-eyed viewer noted that the Apple Watch appears to be charging in “the exact same place you have to charge it on my AirPower knock off.” However, Prosser denies that this is the case and suggests that there is no limitation on where the Apple Watch can be placed.

Later Thursday, another noted Apple leaker tossed more cold water on Prosser’s latest fiery disclosure. Fudge (@choco_bit) claimed to have previously posted the AirPower image on Discord. “Theres [sic] some inconsistencies with original source, C68 pictures included,” Fudge wrote. “Shoot me a DM, too long to post on twit.”

Prosser replied, saying the image he showcased is “part of a B-series (near final hardware) prototype.” He then promised he would “get back with undeniable images, since people have their doubts. That’s fair.”

Finally, Fudge reiterated AirPower is still happening. “Just to be clear, AirPower is very real and very much coming, just *these specific images* are not the AirPower you are looking for,” Fudge wrote.

The rise and fall … and rise? of AirPower

The AirPower wireless charger is one of the most notorious failures in Apple history. Apple revealed AirPower at its iPhone X keynote in September 2017. However, the product was subsequently delayed and delayed again, supposedly due to engineering problems related to overheating. Apple ultimately admitted defeat in March 2019 and pulled the plug on AirPower.

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have canceled the project,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering, in a statement emailed to TechCrunch. “We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward.”

Since then, though, it seems Apple did not totally give up on the idea of making AirPower work. The latest rumors suggest Apple plans to make two AirPower devices: a large model like the one Prosser shared and a smaller, single-device model.

Editor’s note: This post was updated at 1:07 p.m. Pacific to include Fudge’s claims about the images.