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AirPower Is Dead. The S$299 Wireless Charging AirPods Might Not Be for You.

AirPower, Apple’s upcoming wireless charging mat was to do something no other wireless charging mat could deliver: accommodate up to three haphazardly-placed Apple devices for charging, concurrently.

The company announced it with iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods rendered over the image of the charging mat at the iPhone X launch event about two years ago.

But AirPower is no more. Dan Riccio, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering announced this unfortunate turn of events yesterday in a rare apology to customers. In an astounding move, Apple had outright cancelled the wireless charging project, owing in large part to issues with the product meeting the company’s standards.

The AirPower charging mat, announced in 2017 alongside the iPhone X. Image: Apple

About AirPower

Some sources have specified overheating problems on the AirPower ultimately responsible for the axing of the project. The AirPower mat, which allegedly utilised a multi-coil design to accommodate charging of up to three Apple products placed haphazardly on its surface, seemed to defy all laws of physics when announced.

For reference, current wireless charging technology requires a coil in the charger to align with a coil in the device in order for the charger magnetically induce a current in the device wirelessly. Most chargers only have a single coil, which means users have to align their device somewhat accurately for efficient charging to take place.

Other larger wireless charging mats that accommodate multiple devices usually feature up to three coils, but Apple aimed to reinvent the technology to allow you to toss your gadgets without having to align them accurately. This was rumoured to be achieved with up to 20-30 wireless charging coils packed on the mat – plenty of current to generate a whole load of heat.

The rest is history. Apple’s cancellation of the project really can be seen to be for the best – much better to outright eliminate the doomed project than to soldier on only to ship out subpar, faulty or worst – dangerous products to its customers.

AirPods Gen 2, the new Wireless Charging Case: Should You Get It?

While the 2nd Generation AirPods add a smattering of features like improved multi-device connectivity, battery life gains and perpetual “Hey Siri” functionality, the highlight is undeniably the wireless charging case.

The original AirPods (right) and the wireless charging case of the AirPods Gen 2 (left). Image: Ian Ling

But with AirPower in the dust, the SGD 299 configuration just got much, much less attractive.

You see, even for a gadget reviewer like myself, who has racked up a bloated collection of wireless chargers, the total number of “mat” style wireless chargers I have is – one. And I got it last week.

Stand-style wireless chargers typically position their single charging coils higher up on the stand as most wireless charging smartphones have their receptor coils somewhere in the middle of the phone. The diminutive AirPods case simply won’t work on them. If your wireless chargers are all stand-style ones intended to accommodate smartphones, you will have to splash about a hundred dollars more for a flat one.

The AirPods 2nd Generation on the wireless charger that came bundled with the Philips Shaver S9000 Prestige. The wireless charging case for the AirPods really only work on horizontal mat-style wireless chargers. Image: Ian Ling

If you’ve already splashed out the dough on the SGD 299 full AirPods upgrade, fully expecting to snag the AirPower charger when it came out (condolences), all is not lost.

Exploding in popularity is the Nomad Base Station (USD 139.95), which, like the AirPower mat, accommodates the Apple Watch, along with two other Apple Devices. Three charging coils mean you can configure it with AirPods and iPhone abreast, or position your iPhone neatly across to take advantage of the middle coil alone. The Base Station has been fully sold out and is currently on backorder; orders placed today will only ship one month later.

Nomad Base Station, pictured with the AirPods, iPhone, and Apple Watch. Image: Nomad

Alternatively, the SliceCharge 2 Wireless Charging Mat (USD 59.95) invokes some serious AirPower aesthetics, while delivering 7.5W fast charging for iPhones, 10W fast charging for Samsung Galaxy phones, along with room for the charging puck for your Apple Watch. AirPods can also be wirelessly charged at 3W on this device.

The SliceCharge 2 Wireless Charging Mat, shown with the iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods. Image: Hard Cider Labs

Ian Ling
Ian is the resident Tech Monkey and Head of Content at VR Zone. His training in Economics and Political Science is at the basis of his love for journalism and storytelling. A photographer by passion, and an audiophile by obsession, Ian is captivated by all forms of tech that makes enthusiasts tick.

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