Apple unexpectedly introduced on Tuesday a new MagSafe Battery Pack, which is basically an official power bank for the iPhone 12 lineup. The accessory, which is now available to order from Apple’s online store, seems to confirm a long-standing rumor about iPhone 12 being capable of reverse wireless charging.
How it works
Just as the name suggests, Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack is based on the new MagSafe standard, which was introduced last year with iPhone 12. It combines magnets with NFC technology to not only perfectly attach accessories to the back of the iPhone, but also to recharge the iPhone with fast inductive charging.
Instead of having to plug in a cable or connect it to the iPhone via Lightning, all you need to do is place the MagSafe Battery Pack on the back of the iPhone to use the external battery. There are already other similar MagSafe compatible accessories available on the market, but customers can now have an official solution from Apple.
In a support article published earlier today, Apple says that users can recharge the MagSafe Battery Pack’s internal battery through a built-in Lightning connector. This can be done whether the accessory is connected to the iPhone or not:
If both your iPhone and MagSafe Battery Pack need to be charged, you can charge them at the same time. Attach your MagSafe Battery Pack to your iPhone and then plug the MagSafe Battery Pack into a power adapter.
However, the same article reveals that there’s another way to recharge the MagSafe Battery Pack, and that’s by using reverse wireless charging.
Reverse wireless charging
Apple doesn’t explicitly say that there’s a reverse wireless charging technology behind the MagSafe Battery Pack and the iPhone 12, but this is strongly suggested where Apple mentions that you can plug the Lightning cable into the iPhone, and then it will send power to the external battery through the MagSafe:
You can also charge both if you attach your MagSafe Battery Pack to your iPhone, then plug your iPhone into a power source. You might want to charge this way if you need to connect your iPhone to another device while charging, like if you’re using wired CarPlay or transferring photos to a Mac.
For those unfamiliar, reverse wireless charging is a technology that allows users to not only recharge a phone with a wireless charger, but also use the device to recharge an accessory or even other devices by placing it on the back of the phone.
Rumors and what’s Next
Back in 2019, rumors suggested that the iPhone 11 would come with this feature, so users would be able to recharge AirPods or even Apple Watch using just the iPhone. While this was never announced by Apple, iFixit found a new board that could be related to reverse wireless charging.
Following the iPhone 12 announcement, FCC filings revealed that the current generation iPhone does indeed support reverse wireless charging, but Apple never mentioned anything about it — which led us to believe that perhaps the feature has been delayed for another year.
However, it seems that Apple has finally decided to enable reverse wireless charging on the iPhone 12 lineup with the new MagSafe Battery Pack. Of course, that leaves us with several other questions. Why has this never been announced before? Will Apple use this technology only for its own accessories?
While we don’t have the answers to that, it’s not hard to imagine that Apple wanted to ensure that the technology only works with certified accessories. Perhaps future generations of AirPods and Apple Watch will work with reverse wireless charging, but the same cannot be said about current accessories. Keep in mind that this is just speculation.
9to5Mac has reached out to Apple for further clarification on reverse wireless charging, but the company has yet to give us a response.