Apple is continuing its work on full reverse wireless charging support for the iPhone, despite engineering delays. 9to5Mac has heard from sources familiar with the matter that Apple had hoped to debut the feature with the iPhone 14 Pro lineup, but failed to meet that deadline.
Nonetheless, our sources indicate that Apple engineers are pressing ahead with the development of bilateral wireless charging alongside software optimizations for it.
Previous iPhone reverse wireless charging rumors
Reverse wireless charging, also referred to as bilateral wireless charging, is a technology that would allow users to not only recharge a phone with a wireless charger but also use the device to recharge an accessory.
Interestingly, iPhones have had at least some of the necessary hardware for reverse wireless charging since the iPhone 12. FCC filings revealed that the iPhone 12 lineup included wireless charging hardware, but the feature was inactive.
The MagSafe Battery Pack, which also debuted with the iPhone 12, revealed some of Apple’s work on reverse wireless charging. As we noted at the time, you can plug a Lightning cable into your iPhone, then your iPhone will send power to the MagSafe Battery Pack. Still, however, Apple didn’t explicitly refer to this as reverse wireless charging.
Full implementation of reverse wireless charging would allow the iPhone to charge any Qi-enabled accessory. For Apple users, one of the most notable use cases of this feature would be for charging AirPods. If the iPhone supported bilateral wireless charging, you’d be able to recharge your AirPods just by placing them on the back of your iPhone.
In January, it was announced that Apple and the Wireless Power Consortium have been working together on a next-generation Qi wireless charging standard based on MagSafe. This partnership could help Apple advance its own MagSafe and Qi implementations, potentially also helping the company’s reverse wireless charging technology.
iPhone with bilateral charging still in development
Apple still has bigger ambitions for reverse wireless charging than we’ve seen so far. According to sources familiar with the matter who spoke to us, Apple is continuing to work on more advanced bilateral wireless charging technology for the iPhone.
The sources say that Apple had hoped to include full support for reverse wireless charging on the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, but the feature wasn’t finalized in time for that launch. Despite missing this target, Apple engineers are still working on the feature and hope to debut it in a future iPhone.
Internally, Apple is developing a unique “wireless power out” firmware as the basis for the feature. The work on this firmware is a major aspect of the ongoing testing and engineering of the reverse wireless charging hardware. One of the key aspects of bilateral charging is managing the charging speeds between the iPhone and the other device, including heat dissipation and charging efficiency.
Apple is also developing a special user interface for reverse wireless charging, similar to what is currently used for MagSafe chargers and accessories. This would include on-screen animations as well as a sound effect to indicate that bilateral wireless charging had been initiated.
Finally, the sources cautioned that reverse wireless charging could ultimately be delayed again or scrapped altogether. The feature has been in the works since at least the iPhone 11 and has proven to be a challenge due to concerns around heat management and charging speeds.