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Apple patents imagine a MacBook with reverse wireless charging capability

By Nadeem Sarwar January 5, 2021, 10:16 pm

Remember the sleek Galaxy Book Flex laptop that Samsung launched last year? Yeah, the one that had a wireless charging module built right into the trackpad. You can just keep something like a wireless earbud on it, and the trackpad will juice up its battery. Now, imagine if the same reverse wireless charging capability comes to the MacBook. But instead of limiting it to the trackpad, you can keep your iPhone, AirPods, or the Apple Watch anywhere on the deck or the MacBook’s lid to charge it. That would be incredible, but at the same time, it also sounds a tad too far-fetched. However, a pair of patents filed by Apple envision just that. 


Put your iPhone on the MacBook's palm rest to charge it

First spotted by the folks over at PatentlyApple, the patents filed before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are titled Inductive charging between electronic devices. While the patent language plays it safe (unsurprisingly), the diagrams give us a clear idea of how this reverse wireless charging feature for MacBooks will look in action. 

Image: Apple / USPTO

“The electronic device may include an enclosure, a battery positioned within the enclosure, and an inductive coil coupled to the battery. The inductive coil may have two or more operational modes, including a power receiving operational mode for wirelessly receiving power and a power transmitting operational mode for wirelessly transmitting power. The electronic device may also have a controller coupled to the inductive coil for selecting one of the operational modes,” says the patent description. 

Reverse wireless charging support on iPhones and and iPads too?

As you can clearly see in the patent schematics, a phone (read: iPhone) and a smartwatch (read: Apple Watch) are placed on the laptop’s palm rest and getting juiced up. Another diagram shows an iPad and an iPhone getting charged after being placed on the MacBook’s lid. Notably, the diagrams also imagine an iPhone and iPhone with reverse wireless charging capabilities.

Image: Apple / USPTO

Even though it is impressive, many high-end Android phones already allow users to charge accessories such as earbuds by just placing them on the phone’s rear panel. Now, it would be extremely convenient if MacBooks, iPhones, and iPads could get reverse wireless charging support. However, bringing this feature to life comes with many engineering challenges that Apple will have to address first.

Not an easy feat to achieve though

“However, despite having standardized connectors and cable, each device may require a separate or dedicated power supply to charge. In some cases, having separate power supplies for each device may be burdensome to use, store, and/or transport,” the patent notes. And since MacBooks and iPads rock an all-metal build, wireless charging is out of the question here. So, Apple might have to do a major design overhaul or even switch back to using plastic for its MacBooks (and even iPads and iPhones) to bring reverse charging support on its laptops, phones, and tablets.


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