In recent years phones have gone beyond simply being able to charge wirelessly. They’ve evolved to become wireless charging pads themselves, capable of charging other phones, earbuds or smartwatches.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Apple didn't announce that the iPhone 12 has reverse wireless charging. But according to an FCC filing, the feature might actually be there. You just can't use it.
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The iPhone 11 was supposed to come with reverse wireless charging, but reports claimed that the feature was scrapped before launch because it didn’t live up to Apple’s own standards. Likewise iFixit’s teardown revealed some of the components for a reverse wireless charging system were there, but the whole thing remained unfinished.
A new MagSafe feature was hidden in Apple FCC filings: “In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhone models also support WPT charging function at 360 kHz to charge accessories [including] an external potential apple accessory in future.”October 28, 2020
The FCC filing, first discovered by VentureBeat’s Jeremy Horwitz, reveals that the iPhone 12 works with standard Qi chargers and a “new charging function at 360 kHz” which can recharge accessories. Sounds a lot like reverse wireless charging to us, albeit translated into boring technical speak for the regulators.
The only question we have is if it really is there, why hasn’t Apple told us about it? It’s been speculated that Apple could have held back in anticipation of a new pair of MagSafe-compatible AirPods. Be it the AirPods 3, AirPods Pro 2, or even some new charging case for existing earbuds.
AirPods Pro 2 aren’t expected until late 2021 at the earliest, however. It would be an odd decision to wait until the launch of the iPhone 13 before unlocking a feature built into the iPhone 12. But then again, stranger things have happened.
No doubt reverse wireless charging, if it really is functional, can be unlocked later through a software update. So we just have to wait for Apple to decide whether the iPhone 12 can pull off this functionality or not.