Apple has been developing the attachment for at least a year and it has been scheduled to launch in the months following the release of the iPhone 12 line, according to people with knowledge of the product. The iPhone 12 models were introduced in October.
The battery pack would attach to the back of an iPhone 12 using the MagSafe system, which all the new phones use for charging and pairing other accessories like cases and wallets. Some prototypes of the battery pack have a white rubber exterior, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the product isn’t yet public. The new accessory would differ from Apple battery add-ons for previous iPhones in that it only provides additional battery life and doesn’t serve as a full protective case.
Some MagSafe users have criticized the strength of the magnets used by Apple in the iPhone 12 for their perceived weakness and inability to keep MagSafe accessories like Apple’s leather Wallet firmly attached, but Apple has reportedly tested to make sure the battery pack’s magnetic attachment system is strong enough for the charging unit to stay in place.
However, the accessory’s development has reportedly been hindered by software issues, such as the attached iPhone indicating in error that the battery pack is overheating. Apple has also been working to fix problems that arise when the user switches between using the device when a case is on the iPhone and when the case is removed.
In light of these developmental hurdles, the battery pack could ultimately be delayed or scrapped, according to Gurman’s sources.
Potential evidence of a future MagSafe battery accessory was recently discovered by MacRumors in a non-specific (since-removed) reference to a battery pack in the latest iOS 14.5 beta. “To improve charging efficiency and maximize available battery life, the battery pack will keep your phone charged at around 90%,” read the text.
New ‘Mobile Charge Mode’ in iOS 14.5 beta 2 for an as-yet-unannounced ‘Battery Pack’ and not a case presumedly because it uses MagSafe for charging iPhone 12 devices. Also interestingly it keeps your iPhone charged to 90% for ‘battery efficiency’. https://t.co/CPZXkBXkEc pic.twitter.com/jHHrrz4Qir
— Steve Moser (@SteveMoser) February 16, 2021
According to Gurman, Apple has also weighed up the possibility of other MagSafe accessories internally, including the potential for an in-car attachment, although that product reportedly hasn’t made it to formal development.
Apple remains guarded about announcing charging accessories after the AirPower vaporware debacle. Apple publicly announced the device in March 2019, but the product never materialized because of problems in development. Apple ultimately cancelled AirPower and apologized that it was unable to deliver a version of the product that achieved its “high standards.”