iPhone 12: Apple is hiding a secret feature

Documents of the US regulatory authority FCC show that the iPhone 12 apparently has some previously unknown features. These could indicate that the charging system on the back of Apple’s newest smartphones could receive a helpful extension in the future.

One of the new features of the iPhone 12 is MagSafe. A circular arrangement of magnets ensures that the small charging dongle is optimally aligned, thus maximizing efficiency of the Qi charger.

In the depths of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) documents, which include tests of the smartphones and technical specifications, a previously unknown detail of the technology implemented in the back of the smartphone has now surfaced. According to Jeremy Horwitz of VentureBeat on Twitter, there is not only talk of receiving an inductive charge.

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.”

— Jeremy Horwitz (@horwitz)
October 28, 2020

According to the documents, the smartphone could also have its own charging function for corresponding accessories. This reverse charging is already available on some Android devices and can for example be used to charge your earbuds if necessary.

MagSafe in the iPhone could charge external devices in the future

The documents also mention that these devices can be charged with a maximum of 5 watts. However, the currently described function has its limitations. According to the documents, reverse charging is currently only possible if the iPhone itself is supplied with power. However, the testers assume that this limitation could be eliminated later.

The structure of MagSafe on the back of the iPhone. / © Apple; Screenshot: NextPit

The indications that this technology could possibly be used for new Apple accessories in the future have been fuelling the rumor mill since it became known. For example, it is conceivable that a future AirPods generation will be delivered with a case that connects to the back of the iPhone via MagSafe. Another candidate could be AirTags, which have been mentioned repeatedly for months, which could also be charged in this way.

Apple itself has not yet mentioned or announced this feature. According to the FCC, it is included in all models of the iPhone 12. Even at the presentation of the iPhone 11 there were rumors that the smartphone would allow reverse charging. However, these reports have not come true.