Apple iPhone 12 Filing Reveals Super-Cool Hidden Upgrade.

Apple iPhone 12

Apple’s iPhone 12 has only just gone on sale (with two models, the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max still to come in November) but a recent FCC filing suggests there’s a whole new hardware capability which Apple hasn’t mentioned. What’s more, it could stay dormant until next year when the next AirPods are released.

According to the FCC, the latest iPhone has a bonus feature: reverse wireless charging. That’s the function, already found in Huawei, Samsung and others, where you place a wireless-chargeable device against the back of your phone and it shares its battery power with it. Handy if your best friend’s phone is almost out of juice and your iPhone has plenty to spare. Or if you need to give your in-ear buds a quick boost when they’re parched for power.

Reverse charging is controversial – many people feel that phone batteries have so little power that giving it away is foolhardy – but I’m all for it. It’s generous-spirited and encourages others to be as well.

Though it was rumored to be included in the iPhone 11, it never materialized, even if some hardware elements were capable of such a system. This time, though, things may be different.

According to VentureBeat’s Jeremy Horwitz and picked up by 9to5Mac, the FCC says that not only does the iPhone 12 work with wireless charging pads but additionally has a charging function that can recharge accessories.

These include an “external potential Apple accessory in the future”. Intriguing.

I’ll be honest, the text in the documentation is tortuous and unclear, at one point explaining that the charging session “only occurs when the phone is connected to an AC power outlet”. Which sounds like the mystery accessory only charges from the iPhone while the phone itself is charging from the wall socket. Which is less interesting.

Horwitz, again, has an explanation that helps, saying the phrase “only occurs” refers to today’s type of charging but the potential accessory “would be used while the iPhone is fully portable,” as Horwitz puts it. In other words, when the phone is not connected to the AC socket.

So, what will this mystery accessory be?

The most obvious candidate would be AirPods: they need relatively little power to make a substantial difference to the earbuds. Forbes’ Gordon Kelly has already reported on an Apple patent that would connect AirPods to an iPhone, so this may lead to that.

It would need a new charging case if Apple wants it to hold in place perfectly, which sounds like Apple: wanting to do reverse charging better than rivals.

As new AirPods are predicted for next year, this all seems to fit. But there’s another possibility: AirTags. These tracker gizmos which are rumored to be coming soon, could be rechargeable and designed to attach to the back of your iPhone.

For me, this seems less likely as AirTags will probably need batteries with decent life anyway to make them useful.

But there are plenty of other options, from an Apple Watch adaptor to make it easy to boost your Watch’s battery when you’re on the move to even a way to quickly share your battery with another iPhone 12…

As Horwitz says, the fact that these details have been revealed indicates that there’s a strong probability that the feature will be activated at some time in the future. Just when, and what for, remains uncertain for now.

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