Sales analysts have cited wireless charging as one of the features compelling enough to help the upcoming iPhone 8 shatter sales records.
Now, the always-churning Apple rumor mill suggests that feature won’t be in place in time for the new phone’s release (which may or may not come this year) and that it might not be quite as cool as some had hoped.
The latest nugget comes from John Gruber of Daring Fireball, a longtime source of Apple analysis. Gruber writes that his sources believe inductive—that is, sans wires—charging for the next iPhone will arrive later than the device's launch and with its own price tag.
Gruber’s scoop has caused plenty of consternation among Apple watchers; critics argue that the notion that wireless charging technology must wait for an operating system update—such technology is mostly a hardware-based upgrade—makes little sense.
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Still, the idea that the charging hardware will be an add-on accessory may certainly dampen some expected excitement about the next-generation iPhone. As with most rumors, key details are missing: "Separate" could simply mean that the inductive charging pad accessory is additional, which isn’t a huge deal but may be frustrating for some buyers. It could also mean some sort of charging case or dongle for the iPhone’s port—while unlikely, an impossibly uncool extra for a 21st-century Apple product.
The mention of inductive charging is also notable. Such technology uses a contact pad, rather than what some consider "true" wireless charging using RF technology. The RF approach, though still developing, can theoretically charge devices from 10 or 15 feet away. Speculation has swirled about a partnership between Apple and Energous, one of the most promising RF wireless power startups.
The latest rumors, along with recent Apple support for inductive charging standards, could mean dashed hopes for long-range wireless charging in the iPhone 8. We'll find out when the phone makes its expected debut in the fall.