Apple is developing a magnetically connected battery pack for the latest iPhones, an attachment that would wirelessly charge the phone while also providing the company with another potentially lucrative add-on product. According to people familiar with the device, Apple has been working on the accessory for at least a year and plans to release it in the months following the launch of the iPhone 12 line. In October, Apple launched the iPhone 12 models.
The battery pack will be connected to the back of an iPhone 12 using the MagSafe device, which is used on all new iPhones to charge and pair other accessories such as cases and wallets. One of the people who requested not to be named because the product isn’t yet public said that certain prototypes of the battery pack have a white rubber exterior. The new accessory would be different from Apple’s previous iPhone battery add-ons in that it would only provide extra battery life and not function as a complete protective case.
Internal testing has shown that the magnetic attachment system is powerful enough to keep the charging device in place, but software problems have hindered the accessory’s production, such as the iPhone incorrectly reporting that the pack is overheating. Apple has also been trying to resolve problems with customers who choose between using their iPhone with and without a cover.
The new accessory’s development difficulties may cause it to be postponed or scrapped, according to the sources. A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment.
Apple’s hardware engineering team takes great care when it comes to releasing charging accessories. Apple unveiled an AirPower mat in 2017 that could simultaneously charge an Apple Watch, iPhone, and AirPods earphones. It was never released and was cancelled in 2019 due to overheating problems.
Cases, AirPods, Apple Watches, home speakers, and other accessories and wearables accounted for nearly $13 billion in sales last year, or 12 percent of overall company sales.
There has been some evidence of a magnetic battery accessory. According to developer Steve Moser, a vague, later-removed reference to a battery pack was found in a beta version of Apple’s upcoming iOS 14.5 software update.
Apple’s new MagSafe environment can see the wireless charging device becoming a common accessory. Apple launched a pair of chargers, leather wallets, and MagSafe-compatible cases last year.
If released, the Apple accessory will compete with similar products released by small manufacturers in recent months. One of the people said the company has explored other MagSafe attachments internally, including the possibility of an in-car attachment, but that product hasn’t made it into formal production.
Apple has also addressed the possibility of allowing all of its mobile devices, such as Apple Watches, AirPods, and iPhones, to charge each other, although this is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Apple planned, but ultimately scrapped, a feature that would enable users to charge AirPods on the back of the phone for the 2019 iPhones.
Over the next year, Apple’s MagSafe technology is expected to appear in a range of more products. According to Bloomberg News, Apple plans to include it in redesigned MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs that will be released later this year. On the Mac, this feature ensures that yanking the power cable by mistake would simply disconnect it from the laptop rather than shutting it down completely.