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Apple turned heads last week with the announcement of its own Qi standard-based wireless charging accessory, the AirPower mat, which promises to not only charge new iPhone 8 and iPhone X hardware, but Apple Watch Series 3, as well. This revelation led to speculation that the new wearable is also compatible with third-party chargers, a first for the product line.
Though Apple Watch was Apple's first device to support inductive charging, previous product generations required first-party "Magnetic Charging" accessories to juice up. By introducing AirPower, while at the same time announcing Qi compatibility, Apple sowed seeds of confusion as to what standard, if any, applies to the new Series 3.
In attempt to clarify the situation, Japanese blog Mac Otakara tested the wearable with a number of Qi base stations, including the Belkin Boost Up and Mophie units teased onstage during Apple's iPhone event last week. Interestingly, while those specific devices — developed in cooperation with Apple for iPhone 8 — were unable to deliver a charge to the Series 3, other Qi chargers were.
According to the publication, Apple's 2017 Apple Watch can be juiced up by certain Qi chargers and battery packs that support more multiple portable devices.
For example, Mac Otakara was able to trigger the inductive charging system in both iPhone 8 and Apple Watch Series 3 with a Sharllen 10,000mAh Qi portable battery. Charge rates were left unmentioned, but the Watch definitely recognized the Sharllen device, as seen in the photo above.
Why single-device base stations are unable to charge the Series 3 is unknown, though the issue does not appear to be a standards-based limitation. Apple's AirPower provides clues, as the charging mat is one of the first to take advantage of Qi's localized power transfer capabilities.
In any case, what is clear after today's tests is that Apple's new wearable does indeed recognize some third-party base stations.