Unseen AirPower prototype reveals the secrets of Apple's cancelled charger

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Poor old AirPower. Apple's triple wireless charging mat was announced with much fanfare in 2017, but turned out to be doomed – the company officially pulled the plug in 2019, claiming that it was unable to meet its own "high standards" of product design. But two years on, it seems a prototype version of AirPower has emerged online.

Gulio Zompetti often tweets images and videos of unreleased Apple products, and this latest prototype might be the most fascinating yet. While the charging mat doesn't feature AirPower's signature white design, the shape is unmistakeable – and it's the first time we've ever seen the gadget in action. Sadly, if you want to wirelessly charge any of the best camera phones, you'll have to look elsewhere – Apple is yet to provide its own pad.

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Zompetti told The Verge (opens in new tab) that he was able to get hold of the prototype device through Chinese e-waste sources. It arrived without any kind of exterior housing, but this allows us to see in intricate detail what's going on inside – including no less than 22 charging coils.

AirPower prototype

Count the coils (Image credit: Giulio Zompetti)

Zompetti's video shows the device successfully charging a prototype iPhone. He told The Verge that in order for this AirPower prototype to work, it has to be paired with "special prototype iPhone hardware to activate the coils". Being an engineering prototype, "it's not meant for plug and play".

Rumours about AirPower making a comeback have persisted since Apple killed the product in 2019. Last year Apple leaker Jon Prosser "revealed" that AirPower was coming back, with a slightly tweaked design (below) which saw the charging cable moved to the side of the pad. This was said to be arriving in 2020 which, like many of Prosser's leaks, turned out to be untrue. But with Apple recently winning a patent for another wireless charging mat design, perhaps the company hasn't given up on AirPower yet.

Airpower mockup

AirPower was rumoured to be making a comeback last year (Image credit: Jon Prosser)

It's always fun to catch a glimpse of rare or unreleased Apple products. Zompetti recently shared an original iPad prototype which suggested the tablet could have charged very differently. But perhaps even rarer than prototype designs are defective products from the notoriously detail-driven company. But it can happen – just look at the misaligned logo on this iPhone 11. If you're after the best iPhone available right now, check out today's iPhone 12 deals below, and head to the Apple Back to School sale for more offers.

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).