Apple’s wireless charging pad AirPower will likely ship in March, according to a new report from the generally reliable Japanese blog MacOtakara. While Apple pre-announced the multi-device Qi charging accessory last September with an ambiguous 2018 release date, the blog suggests that its development cycle may have been prolonged due to special challenges in charging the Apple Watch Series 3.
AirPower is designed to simultaneously refuel 2017 or newer iPhones and Apple Watches, as well as 2016 AirPods when the devices are placed inside an upcoming wireless charging case. Although the concept seems simple — place up to three devices wherever you want on the white pill-shaped surface — the engineering was apparently difficult. For one thing, iPhones demand more power than AirPods and Apple Watches, and any of the devices might be placed anywhere on the pad.
MacOtakara suggests that extra engineering was needed to enable Apple Watch Series 3 charging using the Qi-based AirPower. The Apple Watch’s convex back was originally designed only to charge with non-Qi concave magnetic chargers, versus a flat Qi surface. AirPower apparently uses a special radio signal to detect the latest Apple Watch and enable it to charge over Qi — a feature that “can be used only by Apple,” according to the report.
Apple has not divulged pricing for AirPower, but some have speculated that the pad may sell for an astounding $199, based on a placeholder price listed last November on a Polish website. The Apple Store currently sells Apple-made wireless Apple Watch charging cables for $29 and third-party wireless iPhone charging pads for $60, suggesting that a three-device charger would likely go for less. AirPower is expected to be available simultaneously in Apple and third-party retail stores.