It hasn’t been too long since Apple released its brand new iPhone 12 lineup. The iPhone 12 that came out was almost as expected from circulating leaks. It had the new flat-edged design with a new processor that beats out all other phones and even some laptops. However, just when everyone was hoping for USB-C, Apple gave us a plot twist by introducing MagSafe. It’s similar to the MagSafe charging that they introduced (now discontinued) in the Macbooks.
However, since Apple jumped onto the USB-C train for its laptops, it no longer exists on its laptops. Instead, they reintroduced it on the new iPhone 12s. But, what exactly is MagSafe? Does it work the same way it used to on the older Macbooks? Here’s everything you need to know about MagSafe — the future of iPhone charging.
What Is MagSafe?
This isn’t the first time Apple has introduced MagSafe charging into its product lineup. As we’ve previously mentioned, Apple used to release Macbooks with a macsafe connector and a MagSafe charger. Apple released it back in 2006 and it stuck around until 2019 when Apple discontinued Macbook MagSafe for good.
Back then, you could just hold the charger near the Macbook’s magnetic charging port and it would snap on. Later on, Apple also integrated this technology into the official Apple Watch charger. It became such a game-changing Macbook feature that it generated its fans among many Apple users. In fact, it was such a good idea that something similar was introduced to the Microsoft Surface Pros.
Unfortunately, its fans had to say goodbye to their magnetic charger when Apple introduced Macbooks with USB-C ports. Of course, USB-C is the future, but it made its fans sad nonetheless. Fast forward to 2020, and we now have it for your Apple iPhone charger. Like its predecessor, MagSafe on the iPhone magnetically attaches to your device and automatically charges it.
However, unlike the old Macbook MagSafe, this one didn’t attach to the bottom or sides of the device. Instead, the MagSafe charger magnetically attaches to the back of your iPhone similar to the Apple Watch. It has specific magnets in both the charger and the iPhone so that it can perfectly snap into place.
It looks like MagSafe is Apple’s answer to users clamoring for USB-C on iPhones. Apple seems to see MagSafe as the future of iPhone charging and may get rid of the lightning port entirely. No doubt we’ll see its devices and products roll out more in the coming years.
How It Works
It may seem magical, but its architecture is grounded in good engineering. So, how does it work? What makes it tick? Let’s find out the inner workings of how exactly Apple’s new mechanism in the iPhone 12 works.
MagSafe In The iPhone 12
As the name implies, it utilizes magnets in the shape of a circle housed inside the iPhone 12s. If you open up the iPhone 12’s back, you’ll find your regular wireless charging coil in the middle. However, underneath the coil, you’ll find 18 sturdy magnets lined up in a circle. This allows your iPhone 12 to magnetically attach to any MagSafe-compatible accessory. That includes the new MagSafe iPhone 12-only charger and many other exclusive accessories such as its cases and wallets.
MagSafe In The MagSafe Charger
Of course, with a new charging mechanism also comes a new Apple dongle. This time, we have its charger that looks like a larger version of the Apple Watch charger. The adapter snaps on perfectly aligned to the iPhone 12’s magnets and charging coil. Like the iPhone 12, its charger houses magnets on the inside to snap it in place every time. Of course, the charger contains the mechanism that does the actual charging, too. With this, you’ll never have to clunkily align your iPhone to a wireless charger’s coil.
Is It Good For Charging?
Wireless charging has been known to charge fairly slowly compared to its wired charging counterparts. Hence, this new MagSafe iPhone charging mechanism begs the question: is this a fast enough charger? Will it be good enough to power your iPhone in a short amount of time? Why should you get this charger over a regular (not to mention cheaper) Qi charger? Let’s examine Apple’s claims and what it means for your iPhone 12’s battery life.
How Many Watts?
According to Apple, all of the iPhone 12 models (except for the mini) can charge up to 15W. That means, with the right MagSafe power adapter, you can get the full 15W. However, many testers claim that they can only get the full 15W with Apple’s $19 20W adapter. Third-party adapters and other proprietary Apple adapters cannot provide the full 15W.
This is because not all power adapters meet the standard that Apple requires. Apple says that its charger needs to deliver power at 3.0 @ 9V/2.22A or 9V/2.56A. As for the iPhone 12 mini, it can charge up to 12W with the right power adapter as well. However, the iPhone 12 mini needs a MagSafe adapter that can support 9V/2.03A for it to reach 12W.
Perhaps in the future, more third-party power adapters can bring out its full charging potential. However, as of right now, you might want to go ahead and buy the proprietary 20W adapter.
With the right power adapter, you can charge using its charger faster than you can with a Qi charger. It juices up your iPhone from zero to 50% in about an hour. Of course, charging with a USB-C to lightning port is still much better because it cuts that time in half. However, if you like wireless charging and not having to use lightning, it is a better option than Qi. That’s because Qi can only deliver up to 7.5W.
Another thing you have to be wary about is the temperature of your iPhone while charging. Apple says that the iPhone will charge slower if it’s too warm. That’s why they recommend that you keep your iPhone in cooler locations, especially when you’re charging.
Lastly, charging your iPhone using it with an iPhone adapter may reach up to 15W. However, if you have a lightning accessory connected (for example, a flash drive or earpods), you’ll also get slower speeds. If you have earpods connected, your MagSafe charger will max out at 7.5W. It’s not an incredibly big deal, but it is worth keeping in mind.
What Comes In The Box
When you buy an iPhone 12, it doesn’t come with a MagSafe charger out of the box. In fact, all you’ll get is a lightning cable, because Apple assumes you already have a power brick. If not, you’re out of luck and you need to buy a separate power adapter, too. According to Apple, this is an eco-friendly initiative to lessen the number of power bricks ending up in dumps.
Likewise, its charger doesn’t come with a power adapter in the box. All you’ll get is the MagSafe charger with the USB-C cable, so you’ll have to purchase adapters separately. The charger will run you for $39 and the 20W charging brick will cost you $19. Overall, you’ll have to spend $58 to utilize the charger to its fullest extent.
Will It Work With Other Phones?
If you’re using an older iPhone with wireless charging, you might want to stick to regular Qi chargers instead. That’s because the MagSafe charger can only deliver 15W to the iPhone 12. Older iPhones will charge at less than 7.5W, way slower than third-party Qi chargers. According to some sources, MagSafe can charge older iPhones only up to 5W, which is fairly slow. Hence, while using the MagSafe charger works with older iPhones and even some Android phones, it’s not recommended over Qi.
In the past, we rarely had to think about cleaning our lightning cables to charge our iPhones. However, because of the MagSafe charger’s body, we have to be mindful of cleaning and maintenance.
To clean the MagSafe charger, Apple suggests using a clean and soft cloth. Rough cloths might damage the charger and hasten its wear and tear. Moreover, you should also refrain from using cleaning agents or wiping the charger too much or too often. Just wipe the charger gently with a soft cloth occasionally.
Besides Apple’s proprietary MagSafe charger, is there any other MagSafe product or accessory that can work with this new mechanism? Fortunately, there are, and many of them already come from Apple.
If you recall, Apple used to have Airplay in the works to charge iPhones, Apple Watches, and AirPods simultaneously. However, the project was discontinued for unknown reasons. On the other hand, Apple has designed a similar (yet different) dual-purpose magnetic charger. It’s called the Apple MagSafe Duo.
The new MagSafe Duo is a $129 magnetic charger that Apple is set to release soon. This duo charger supposedly includes a foldable pad MagSafe charger for both your iPhone and Apple Watch. You can use it to charge at home or fold it and pack it in a suitcase. It’s handy for travelers or for those who just want to charge their Apple devices wirelessly.
Apart from this upcoming product, Apple has a few MagSafe accessories up its sleeve. For example, Apple has unveiled proprietary MagSafe cases which you can use even while charging with MagSafe. In other words, you don’t have to remove the case if you want to wirelessly charge. These MagSafe cases don’t hinder charging speeds, either. Hence, they’re perfect if you don’t like using your iPhone naked. They come in all kinds of material variants including silicone and leather.
On the other hand, Apple also has MagSafe wallets that magnetically attach to the back of the iPhone 12s. You can find them in 4 colors: Baltic Blue, California Poppy, Saddle Brown, and Black. They’re thin enough to not feel bulky but also thick enough to house your essentials like money and credit cards. These wallets can also magnetically attach while you’re using a MagSafe case, so you don’t have to remove them. However, do note that the MagSafe charger won’t work with a MagSafe wallet.
Many iPhone users don’t use wallets, cases, or accessories made by Apple. In fact, some of the most beloved iPhone cases come from third-party sellers. However, as of the time of writing, not many 3rd-party sellers have compatible cases yet. We’ve seen some from Otterbox that are sold on the Apple website that might interest some users. However, since it’s still a new technology, not all third-party case manufacturers have compatible cases. Still, keep an eye out for future accessories like cases, wallets, or even mounts and docks.
MagSafe Problems & Precautions
Using MagSafe accessories like the charger, the case, and the wallet is undoubtedly convenient. However, there are a few problems that come with this MagSafe ecosystem which you have to keep in mind.
For example, your iPhone’s magnets and MagSafe charger should avoid contact with single-use cards like hotel or train cards. You should also avoid putting your credit cards or anything with magnetic strips or RFID onto the MagSafe’s magnets. That goes for both the magnets in the iPhone and the MagSafe charger. This is because magnets can damage sensitive mechanisms like these.
Another precaution that Apple warns users about is using MagSafe on specific iPhone cases. That’s because MagSafe can leave marks on leather and silicone cases. It might not be a big deal for some, but it’s worth noting.
People still have mixed feelings about MagSafe charging. Some like it, while some don’t. Still, others might want to have it back on the Macbooks and clamor for USB-C on the iPhones. However, Apple has made its stance clear. iPhone MagSafe charging is here to stay whether we like it or not. Hence, it’s important to familiarize yourself with this new technology, especially if you’re an “iPhone for life” kind of person.