Your iPhone 12 Could Charge Your AirPods

AirPods Pro and an iPhone

In 2019, rumors suggested that the iPhone 11 would’ve reverse wireless charging. That would have made the handset, in essence, a wireless charging pad in and of itself. The iFixit teardown revealed some of the needed components for that, but the work was unfinished. This year, FCC filings for iPhone 12 show it might work now. Yes, your iPhone 12 could charge your AirPods soon.

Bilateral, or Reverse, Charging

iPhone 12 could charge your airpods
An iPhone 12, which offers Qi charging that may one day work to recharge accessories

Normally, the Qi charging components in an iPhone operate in one direction only. They charge your device, but don’t allow your iPhone to recharge other components. The FCC filing, as spotted by Jeremy Horwitz, shows some interesting facts about that tech in the iPhone 12.

In the filing, we learn that the iPhone 12 works with regular Qi chargers and also feature a new “charging function at 360 kHz” that makes the handset capable of recharging accessories. Once Apple switches this feature on, you could charge your AirPods by setting the case on the back of your iPhone 12.

Apple’s Quiet, Perhaps Waiting for New AirPods

Cupertino never mentioned this possibility in the “Hi, Speed” event. We never even heard rumblings about reverse wireless charging on the iPhone 12. Ever since the 2019 model came and went without the feature, it’s almost like everyone forgot about it. Then came the FCC filing for iPhone 12.

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. Currently the only accessory that can be charged by iPhones is an external potential apple accessory in future.

As of now, Apple has clearly disabled this feature on iPhone 12 devices. However, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman recently tweeted a possibility that’s born out by the filing. He believes Apple is hanging on to this reverse charge feature for the rumored next-generation AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro 2.

Gurman suggests that the reverse charging might work through MagSafe. The new accessory cases might utilize their own MagSafe connectors to pair up with your iPhone 12’s magnets.

How Your iPhone Might Charge Your AirPods

The FCC filing hints at using the wireless charging technology in a “portable use condition”. Normally, charging will only occur when you connect the handset to AC power, but Apple is obviously preparing for more mobility in charging scenarios.

Future designs and accessories may support true portable use condition, with the host-client pair able to be placed in a pocket or backpack. In those cases. A body-worn exposure assessment would be conducted.

Imagine, if you will, a world in which you can charge your AirPods on the go, straight from your iPhone. No wires needed, just a magnetic connection between your AirPods case and your phone. Apple clearly is imagining just such a world. Let’s see if it happens.

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