Apple first announced the AirPower charging mat back in 2017. The charger was designed to allow laying up to 3 wireless-capable Apple devices on the mat in any spot for charging. The charger incorporated an array of 22 overlapping charging coils to enable free placement charging.
Following multiple delays, Apple officially canceled the AirPower in 2019. At that time, executives merely said the device did “not achieve our high standards.” Follow-up reports indicated there were problems related to overheating.
Apple Demo recently provided Unbox Therapy with a rare AirPower prototype that included one functioning coil in the bottom right corner of the mat. Apple Demo also included a set of explicit instructions on how to use the charger without damaging the unit or causing injury to the user. (The AirPower prototype apparently has a tendency to overheat.
Unbox Therapy used a MacBook Pro’s USB-C port with an Apple-made Lightning to USB-C cable, as advised. The unit does not feature the white exterior shell that Apple marketed the device with, laying bare the pad’s internal circuitry on the back. Apple Demo had cautioned Unbox Therapy not to touch that area of the AirPower, as they had done so by accident and received a bad electric shock.
Only Apple devices (preferably only iPhone X models or AirPods) should be charged on the AirPower, and the AirPower prototype is unable to charge any Apple Watch models or any newer devices with MagSafe magnets. “Max” devices (like iPhone XS Max) cannot be charged as they could cause damage if they draw more power.
Apple Demo also advised its partner site not to leave the AirPower connected to power for an extended period of time – one minute was the maximum time allowed – and to allow the unit five minutes to cool down before placing another device on it.
In the video, Unbox Therapy places an iPhone X on the corner of the mat, whereupon it begins to charge wirelessly – and continues charging for the short period it is left on the mat. After the prescribed five-minute cooldown period, an AirPods case is placed on the mat, which charges via the single functioning coil.
Unbox Therapy points out that the AirPower is poorly designed for many of today’s Apple Watch bands that don’t lie flat when taken off the wrist and placed down.
In 2021, Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman said Apple is still working on making an AirPower-like charging pad work properly.