iPhone XS packaging mentions AirPower charging mat

The Apple iPhone XS has started shipping out to customers, who are discovering something in the owner’s manual: instructions on how to charge it using the AirPower wireless charging mat, which Apple hasn’t even given a release date. 

The AirPower is (or was, as its fate is uncertain) a Qi-certified mat that Apple claimed would be able to wirelessly charge three devices at once at different wattages, like an iPhone and Apple Watch 4. A report hinted that the mat runs on an iPhone-like processor running a simplified iOS to interact with Apple products.

Apple introduced the AirPower in September 2017 and stated it would come out in 2018, but hasn’t officially mentioned it since. Sources suggested it would come out in March 2018 and, when the AirPower didn’t come out then, another stated it might come out in September. 

But the Apple event revealing the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR and Apple Watch 4 came and went nary a word on the AirPower. Insider reports posited that the complexity of multi-device charging caused the delays. 

It’s unlikely that a company as meticulous as Apple accidentally mentioned the AirPower in the iPhone XS manual. That could mean they’ll release it at some point soon. There’s at least evidence that Apple is continuing to develop the AirPower: iOS 12.1 updated the part responsible for managing a charging interface, according to 9to5Mac.

But other reports aren’t so optimistic. Shortly after the recent Apple event, leaker Sonny Dickson cited several sources inside the company said that many who work on AirPower feel it ‘may be doomed to failure.’ It currently produces way too much heat to charge devices efficiently, inter-device communication is buggy, the charging itself is finicky and slow, and other issues plague the product-in-development.

David Lumb

David is now a mobile reporter at Cnet. Formerly Mobile Editor, US for TechRadar, he covered phones, tablets, and wearables. He still thinks the iPhone 4 is the best-looking smartphone ever made. He's most interested in technology, gaming and culture – and where they overlap and change our lives. His current beat explores how our on-the-go existence is affected by new gadgets, carrier coverage expansions, and corporate strategy shifts.