The iPhone 12 has already caused quite a stir on the subject of charging between Apple's decision to remove the charger from the box and the introduction of MagSafe wireless charging possibly paving the way to a port-free iPhone in the future.
However, as it turns out, the iPhone 12 has one more wireless charging trick up its sleeve. VentureBeat's Jeremy Horowitz discovered a reference to support for reverse wireless charging in the iPhone 12 in Apple's FCC filings (via BGR).
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Reverse wireless charging was first introduced by Huawei back in 2018; it allows you to place a Qi-compatible wireless charging device on the back of your smartphone and (slowly) charge it up. Samsung was quick to adopt it as well and it has been prominently featured in ads for the Galaxy S10 and S20.
While charging another smartphone with it isn't terribly practical, it's useful for topping up devices with smaller batteries, like a smartwatch or wireless earbuds.
A new MagSafe feature was hidden in Apple FCC filings: “In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhone models also support WPT charging function at 360 kHz to charge accessories [including] an external potential apple accessory in future.”October 28, 2020
It appears this kind of thing is exactly what Apple has in mind as the filing specifically refers to using the feature to "charge accessories [including] an external potential apple accessory in future." That could certainly come in handy whenever Apple gets around to releasing the oft-rumored new AirPods and AirPods Pro.
Before you plop Qi devices on the back of your iPhone 12 and get disappointed, the feature isn't active right now. Apple has not once mentioned this feature in any of the materials or presentations regarding the iPhone 12. The company would need to unlock the feature with a future update, and it's entirely possible that won't ever happen.
While disabling 5G on the iPhone 12 deals with the battery concerns that some have, the reality is that these devices don't have massive batteries, so it's possible Apple is avoiding the issue by not enabling this feature and will hold it for iPhone 13 regardless of whether the iPhone 12 is capable of it.
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Sean Riley has been covering tech professionally for over a decade now. Most of that time was as a freelancer covering varied topics including phones, wearables, tablets, smart home devices, laptops, AR, VR, mobile payments, fintech, and more. Sean is the resident mobile expert at Laptop Mag, specializing in phones and wearables, you'll find plenty of news, reviews, how-to, and opinion pieces on these subjects from him here. But Laptop Mag has also proven a perfect fit for that broad range of interests with reviews and news on the latest laptops, VR games, and computer accessories along with coverage on everything from NFTs to cybersecurity and more.