iPhone 11-series has reverse wireless-charging hardware, but there's a catch
Apple's new iPhones are here and they are grabbing all the attention not only for their headline upgrades but also for the features they missed. We all expected the iPhone 11-series to come with reverse wireless charging, however, Apple never announced it. But surprisingly, the hardware for the missing feature is available inside all the phones. It has been disabled at the software level.
Reliable sources are saying iPhone 11 and 11 Pro do include the hardware for bilateral charging, but that it is software disabled. Uncertain whether this was removed prior to final production run.— Sonny Dickson (@SonnyDickson) September 13, 2019
In fact, in April this year, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo had mentioned the new iPhone would support two-way wireless charging. This bit of information was later backed by Macotakara and Bloomberg as well. And as it turns out, the iPhone 11 trio does include the required hardware to facilitate "bilateral charging" (aka wireless charging), but it has been deactivated by Apple at the software level.
The bilateral charging feature was talked about a lot, in the lead-up to the launch event but Apple decided to drop the feature eventually. According to reports, the company wasn't satisfied with the battery tradeoff involved and it simply couldn't optimize it in time.
It's unclear why Apple didn't remove the hardware prior to final production. Evidently, it didn't want to engage in an extra process of removing the hardware and incur additional time and money. Or perhaps the tech giant is giving itself a chance to work on the feature so as to optimize it and add support for it via a future software update.
Interestingly, Apple has enabled hardware features via software updates in the past. In 2007, the company had enabled 802.11n Wi-Fi in several Macs. In 2008, they released an update to enable Bluetooth support on iPod touch. More recently, with iPadOS, the company added support for an external hard drive, SD card reader, and USB drive on iPad Pro.