Apple is working on a magnetically attached battery for the latest iPhones, an accessory that can wirelessly charge the handset and provide the company with yet another potentially lucrative add-on product.
Apple has been developing the appendix for at least a year and, according to people with product knowledge, should come out in the months after the iPhone 12 series was released. The iPhone 12 models were introduced in October.
The battery attaches to the back of an iPhone 12 using the MagSafe system, which all new phones use to charge and pair other accessories such as bags and wallets. Some prototypes of the battery have a white rubber exterior, said one of the people who asked not to be identified because the product is not yet public. The new accessory differs from Apple battery add-ons for previous iPhones in that it only provides additional battery life and does not act as a full protective case.
Internal testing has shown the magnetic fastening system to be strong enough to keep the charging unit in place. However, the development of the accessory has been slowed down by software issues like the iPhone, which incorrectly indicate that the pack is overheating. Apple has also been working to fix issues related to a customer who sometimes switches between using the device on an iPhone with and without a case.
Given the development challenges of the new accessory, it could ultimately be delayed or scrapped, people said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
Apple’s hardware engineering department pays careful attention to the introduction of charging accessories. In 2017, the company announced an AirPower mat that will simultaneously charge an Apple Watch, an iPhone and AirPods headphones. It was ultimately never released and was canceled in 2019 due to issues related to overheating deep in its development.
Accessories and wearables have become a growing source of income for Apple. Cases, AirPods, Apple Watches, home speakers, and related products made nearly $ 13 billion, or 12% of total company revenue, last quarter.