Apple’s wireless AirPower charger should come with the unique ability to charge an iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods at the same time. Unfortunately, Apple canceled AirPower in March 2019 due to difficulties in bringing the product to life. Since then, we’ve seen a demolition of AirPower, some AirPower clones, and Apple’s MagSafe battery packs. Now an Apple prototype collector has acquired a working AirPower device for the first time.
Talking to The VergeGiulio Zompetti, a 28-year-old from Italy, says he has managed to buy a prototype AirPower unit from Chinese e-waste sources. “The unit lacks all of its exterior housing, showing this beautiful and heavy-duty stainless steel chassis,”
On photos submitted to The Verge, you can see the AirPower mat drive a prototype iPhone, with its 22 coils on the front and 22 controller circuits on the back. For this AirPower prototype to work, it must be paired with special prototype iPhone hardware to activate the coils.
“It does not work with production units, because the coils are awakened by the unit,” explains Zompetti, who says that he has managed to charge two prototype units at the same time so far. Zompetti says he received the device in December and was able to interact with it initially through a serial lightning cable.
“It’s an engineering prototype, it’s not meant for plug and play,” says Zompetti. “When I connected the serial lightning cable to it, I could see some signs on the log, so once I had determined the BAUD frequency, I could read an understandable log.” There is even an interactive shell to interact with AirPower, as part of the design of the device.
Apple’s canceled AirPower pad should let you drop devices anywhere on it to charge thanks to multiple coils, without having to find the specific cute spot. However, various reports suggested that Apple was struggling with overheating issues during development. “I was not able to reproduce the problem, but still can not say that it is not there,” says Zompetti.
Although we have not been able to independently verify the AirPower device since it is extremely rare, Zompetti has a history of collecting Apple prototype hardware. He has been collecting devices since March 2018, including a rare prototype of the first Apple Watch. “It has become my greatest passion since then to find the best prototypes,” says Zompetti. He has collected around 35 devices so far, with a number of rare iPhone and iPod prototypes in his collection.
This passion has seen Zompetti travel to engineers for help repairing old units. “It’s almost always about finding broken or incomplete devices and fixing them to wake them up again,” says Zompetti. An unreleased AirPower device is “definitely among the best” prototype hardware he has found so far, he says.