Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds.
Jessica began leading CNET's How-To section for tips and FAQs in 2019, guiding coverage of topics ranging from personal finance to phones and home. She holds an MA with Distinction from the University of Warwick (UK).
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Don't think of Apple's AirPower as an iPhone afterthought. The wireless charging pad, which the company announced almost a full year ago, could be an important piece of Apple's iPhone strategy for 2018.
What makes AirPower so interesting is that the wireless charging pad doesn't just charge multiple devices when you drop it on top. It's that AirPower will also let the devices talk to each other to manage power consumption. All of Apple's wirelessly compatible devices will charge on Qi rigs from
and others, but AirPower is
specific attempt to make its mark on wireless charging technology, get more people to use wireless charging pads, and make some money in the process.
At its September 2017 event, Apple said AirPower would appear some time in 2018, but since then we've barely heard a peep. It's unlike Apple to announce a product and not deliver. But competition is heating up.
Samsung has recently announced Wireless Charger Duo, a new wireless charger that will power up any of its compatible devices like the Galaxy Note 9 and new Samsung Galaxy Watch. Samsung's Wireless Charger Duo doesn't claim AirPower's powers of letting devices talk to one another. We've tried it, and it works just like any other wireless charger.
Although we're not exactly sure when AirPower will strike, it's a good time to look back and note what we know about Apple's wireless charger so far.
What is AirPower?
AirPower is Apple's oval-shaped wireless charging pad that promises to work with the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, the
and a new wireless charging
case that Apple will release some time in the future.
AirPower and Apple's new iPhones mark the company's deep dive into wireless charging and its adoption of the Qi standard. Wireless charging has been built into phones for years, but until January, two competing standards, Qi and
, slowed innovation overall.
You can see Apple's AirPower demo in the video below.
Why is AirPower different than other wireless chargers?
AirPower will charge multiple devices at the same time -- but other charging mats can do that, too. What's different here is that AirPower claims it can help devices communicate with each other to manage power consumption. We're not exactly sure how that works yet, but we're starting to get impatient.
Apple's AirPower demo from last September shows the iPhone screen tracking all the devices currently on the charger, and their battery status. It isn't clear if this will work with non-Apple devices, or if the technology has been built into a current iPhone as well as the AirPower pad.
How fast will AirPower charge my iPhone?
Apple didn't share any details about the charging speed, but the Mophie and Belkin charging pads sold through Apple's site claim output of up to 7.5 watts, which is what the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X are certified for. The Apple Watch, on the other hand, only supports charging up to 5 watts, which is as much as its charging base delivers.
Watch this: AirPower: Apple's vision for the future of wireless charging
As we've said, we don't know. Alongside the 2018 iPhones? Apple only has a few months left to make its self-imposed 2018 deadline.
What about a new AirPods case that works with AirPower?
Apple could also release AirPower around the same time it starts selling the AirPods wireless charging case. The two devices were shown off together and are meant to work hand-in-hand. A recent Bloomberg report claims that Apple may release a new version of AirPods "as soon as this year."
So: Either a new version of the existing AirPods with a wireless rechargeable case, or maybe a whole new "AirPods 2."
How much will AirPower cost?
This is another great question we don't have an answer to. Last November, an AirPower listing was spotted on a Polish retailer's website for 999 złoty, which converts to about $290, £205 or AU$375. Other rumors claim that AirPower will cost closer to $199.
For comparison, the third-party Qi chargers that Apple sells both cost $60, but these only work with one device at a time. Since Apple's AirPower can charge up to three devices, it'll likely cost more.