Apple’s iPhone 12 series could be hiding a major charging feature that was rumored to debut in 2019 iPhone 11 models. Known as reverse or “bilateral” wireless charging, the functionality allows smartphones to use their inductive charging coil to charge smaller accessories or even other phones.
Proof that Apple’s new iPhone lineup may support reverse wireless charging showed up in a recent regulatory filing detailing the company’s 2020 smartphones. Discovered by tech writer Jeremy Horwitz, the document references the new MagSafe protocol that debuted alongside iPhone 12 this month.
Apple’s iPhone 12 lineup could support reverse charging in the future
In a FCC filing found by VentureBeat’s Jeremy Horwitz, the tech giant said that the iPhone 12 lineup support a wireless charging function that will seemingly be enabled for at least one future Apple accessory:
“In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhones 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.”
In addition, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman speculates that one of these accessories could be new AirPods with MagSafe support, which could allow the AirPods case to magnetically attach and charge on the back of the iPhone 12 models. It would also make sense if Apple’s long-rumored item trackers, “AirTags”, were able to be charged on the back of an iPhone 12.
The tech giant was previously rumored to bring reverse charging to the iPhone lineup in early 2019. At the time, TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that year’s iPhone, the iPhone 11, would feature “bilateral” wireless charging. Though the report was corroborated by supply chain sources, Apple ultimately scrapped those plans.
This latest discovery suggests that the tech giant continued to work on the charging feature and integrated functionality into its MagSafe protocol. In theory, reverse wireless charging could be activated via a software update, but it remains unclear if Apple intends to do so.