Image Credit: United States Patent and Trademark Office
Apple’s newly granted patent describes a concept iPhone case that can charge AirPods and other external devices using the phones battery.
In 2018, Apple added the ability to charge an Apple Pencil by magnetically attaching the accessory to the side of the iPad Pro. Spotted by William Gallagher from AppleInsider, it seems Apple are experimenting with adding similar functionality to the iPhone via cases and covers. The cases are designed to protect your device, while adding some method of charging external devices using the iPhone’s battery as a power source.
The patent is titled “Cases and folios for carrying and charging accessories”, and opens “This application relates to a case for retaining a portable electronic device and an accessory.” The application states, “the case can further include a first terminal, a second terminal, and a battery. The first terminal can receive electrical energy from the portable electronic device to charge the battery. And the electrical energy stored in the battery can be transferred to the accessory through the second terminal.” Continuing, “the case can further include a slotted compartment to store money and credit cards.”
Apple describes the issue as, “oftentimes end users only find out their electronic accessory is out of power when they use the accessory. But they might not carry a charger with them.” The patent goes on to mention the case having “a cavity” for the accessory to slot into and charge. Covering all bases, it lists many different electronic devices as a possibility for charging, “earphones, both wired and wireless, watches, styluses or electronic pencils, keyboards, electronic mice, speakers, cameras, microphones, drones, biometric monitors, card readers, adaptors, chargers, cables, and other suitable electronic devices.” Not limiting themselves to just conventional cases, “a folio, a wallet, a flap, a cover, an enclosure, a holster, a clip, a sleeve, an armband, or suitable combination hereof.”
Detailing the charging solution, “receptacle can include two openings, one at each end for receiving accessory devices, and a charging terminal in between for energy transfer between the receptacle and the accessory devices.” The images show AirPods slotted into the case, however devices could equally be attached magnetically, “the accessory devices can be retained through frictional fit, magnetic coupling, or both.”
This is all an interesting concept. Looking at other phone manufacturers, the logical next step for charging AirPods and other small accessories via an iPhone would be reverse wireless charging. While the patent images look ridiculous, the text is vague enough to introduce more elegant solution in final implementation.