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Forget the Small iPhone. Is Apple Going Charger-Free?

Mar 28, 2016

Apple might be ready to ditch some of its charger cords by 2017 with a plan to charge next-generation smartphones through the air.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a track record of solid Apple hardware predictions, told 9to5Mac over the weekend that he thinks next year's iPhones will charge wirelessly.

The wireless charging technique, first rumored to be on the way last month, would be a game changer for smartphones. Instead of plugging a phone into a wall-mounted electrical outlet, or placing a phone on a wireless charging pad, an owner could power up his or her phone over the air.

Samsung and Google already use wireless charging pads for smartphones, but this kind of "air charge" technology would be new. Apple might use a technique called "near-field magnetic resonance" that the company has been working on for years, according to a company patent application from 2010. That means that in order to charge up, the phone would need to be fairly close to another power supply, such as a computer.

Kuo said wireless charging isn't the only change in store for the 2017 Apple phones. He expects they'll also feature a more palm-friendly curved body, a glass back, and an active-matrix organic LED screen, which is both thinner and better for the phone's battery life. The phones could also have facial recognition or eye recognition, Kuo said.

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The forecast sent the Apple rumor mill swirling just one week after the company introduced its new, smaller 4-inch iPhone SE. But that new phone may not shake up to be as popular as Apple hopes; a new study suggests the company will sell around 4 million to 6 million of the "smaller" phones this year in the U.S.

Apple's next iPhone wave is due out in the fall, but those models probably won't have any new charging tech ready just yet. Apple didn't immediately respond to Fortune's request for comment about the wireless charging technique.

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