When it comes to hardware, Apple has had far more hits than misses, especially in recent years. That’s why the misses are so fascinating, and it’s the reason we’re still talking about AirPower in 2021. Apple first announced a wireless charging mat in September 2017. It was set to be released in early 2018, but the year came and went without a peep from the company. March 2019 arrived and Apple finally canceled the device once and for all. But there have been rumors about AirPower’s return ever since. And this week, an AirPower prototype video made its way online.
On Thursday, Giulio Zompetti shared a short video of an alleged AirPower prototype in action. As you can see in the video, the wireless charger appears to work as intended.
Watch the AirPower prototype in the video below:
— Giulio Zompetti (@1nsane_dev) August 5, 2021
Speaking with The Verge, Zompetti said that he purchased a prototype from Chinese e-waste sources. He says that the unit he bought “lacks all of its exterior housing, and shows this beautiful and heavy stainless steel chassis.” Here are two photos that he shared with The Verge:
As The Verge notes, there are 22 coils on the front of the device and 22 controller circuits on the back. Apparently, the only way to make the unit work is to pair it with special prototype iPhone hardware in order to activate the coils. That’s what Zompetti did in the video above.
“It doesn’t work with production devices, because the coils are woken up by the device,” Zompetti said. He also revealed that he has been able to charge two prototypes at once so far. When he first received the unit back in December, he had to use a serial lightning cable to interact with it. “It’s an engineering prototype, it’s not meant for plug and play,” he explained.
After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project,” said Dan Riccio, Apple’s SVP of Hardware Engineering, on March 29th, 2019. That was the first and last time Apple spoke about the project following its reveal. Third-party sources have since revealed the alleged reasons for the device’s demise. In September 2018, John Gruber reported that “the multi-coil design” of the AirPower was getting way too hot. Sonny Dickson backed those claims up in a report of his own just one day later. Meanwhile, a new AirPower rumor seems to crop up once every month or so, and this video is sure to stoke the flames.