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Alongside the new iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a MagSafe charger that attaches to the back of the iPhones using magnets embedded both in the charger and in the iPhone. It allows for speedier charging and paves the way for a portless iPhone in the future. MagSafe chargers are shipping out and are in some Apple retail locations now, and we picked one up to check it out.


MagSafe isn't a new word for Apple -- it's what the magnetic MacBook chargers used to be called before Apple swapped over to USB-C. MagSafe in its current incarnation is totally different from the original MagSafe chargers, but the common theme is the magnetic connection.

The puck-shaped MagSafe charger looks like a larger Apple Watch charging puck, featuring a circular design with a cord at one end that plugs into a power adapter. The charger is designed to snap on to a ring of magnets built into the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro, for a perfect alignment without any hassle.

magsafe1.jpg

When you order a MagSafe charger from Apple for $39, you get just the charger, which has a cord with a USB-C connector at the end. It needs to be paired with a USB-C power adapter, and Apple recommends its $19 20W USB-C option. The cord attached to the MagSafe charger is non-removable, and the charger itself is made from aluminum, but the front middle section has a grippy, rubber-like feel to it.

magsafe2.jpg

Apple's MagSafe chargers line up right with the charging coil inside the iPhone 12 models, and can provide up to 15W of power. That's double the charging speed you're able to get with the 7.5W Qi wireless chargers, which makes this a much more appealing wireless charging option.

magsafemain.jpg

If you're wondering if the MagSafe charger works with older iPhones, the answer is yes. It is compatible with all iPhones that support wireless charging, which includes the iPhone 8 and later. When used with an iPhone 12, the charger snaps onto the back of the device with what appears to be a strong magnetic connection, but the older iPhones don't have that same magnetic ring so it the MagSafe charger can't connect in the same way.

We don't have an iPhone 12 model on hand yet to see the actual difference between the magnetic connection of one of the new models and an existing iPhone, but just based on the marketing materials Apple has released, that magnetic ring in the iPhone is an important factor when it comes to the strength of the connection.

magsafeotterbox.jpg

Even using a MagSafe-compatible iPhone 12 case from OtterBox results in a connection that's not super strong, and it appears that OtterBox, at least, has just stuck a couple of magnets in a little insert in the case to add MagSafe functionality. Presumably, the MagSafe ring built into the iPhone 12 models makes the connection between MagSafe charger and iPhone much stronger, and Apple's own cases may also be more magnetic.

insidemagsafeotterbox.jpg

While the iPhone 12 models can charge at 15W using the MagSafe charger, it's not yet quite clear how fast it can charge older iPhones, so there may be some speed limitations involved when using it with non-iPhone 12 models. As mentioned before, there's no strong magnetic adhesion, so the non-iPhone 12 models just rest on the charger like your basic Qi charger.

The MagSafe charger is also able to charge Qi-based Android phones as well as the AirPods, but unsurprisingly, it is not compatible with the Apple Watch.

We'll have an iPhone 12 and 12 Pro on Friday to test out with the MagSafe charger, so make sure to tune in to MacRumors later in the week to see our iPhone 12 hands-on with more detail on using the MagSafe charger with an iPhone that has the built-in magnetic ring.

Article Link: Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12
 
Last edited:

grantwall

macrumors member
Nov 13, 2007
43
34
I'm really curious if the white part on this is raised, or if it's the aluminum case that's raised. I'd hope it's the white softer part, as part of me worries this magsafe adapter might actually slowly scratch or damage the glass back otherwise.
 
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mnsportsgeek

macrumors 68040
Feb 24, 2009
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My wife always prefers to get cases with fun designs. I hope some of the “designer” case brands will implement MagSafe functionality. In the meantime, I got her a caudabe lucid clear.
 
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Maconplasma

macrumors 68020
Sep 15, 2020
2,489
2,205
I'm really curious if the white part on this is raised, or if it's the aluminum case that's raised. I'd hope it's the white softer part, as part of me worries this magsafe adapter might actually slowly scratch or damage the glass back otherwise.
From the picture above the white disc actually looks slightly recessed. Kinda hard to tell.
 
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iReality85

macrumors 65816
Apr 29, 2008
1,082
2,345
Upstate NY
That case looks like it was redesigned for the magnet at the last minute. Looks super cheap (and super ugly), IMO.

Should probably make us cautious about 3rd party cases for the first few months.
 
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rldunn

macrumors member
Feb 27, 2010
84
56
Ann Arbor, MI
I'm really curious if the white part on this is raised, or if it's the aluminum case that's raised. I'd hope it's the white softer part, as part of me worries this magsafe adapter might actually slowly scratch or damage the glass back otherwise.
It's the white part that is very slightly raised.
 
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Sodner

macrumors 68020
Jan 12, 2011
2,093
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Pittsburgh, PA
If its "Mag Safe" the charging puck should not stick to the case like glue. We want it to come off easily so we don't have to pry the two apart after charging. Sure the case should be tight on the phone, and the card holder should be tight as well, but not the charging puck!!!
 
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Deinocheirus

Suspended
Oct 5, 2020
380
564
It seems pretty weird to evaluate this product with other Qi devices, and use words like "disappointing". It isn't meant to be used with anything other than iPhone 12.
 
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IIGS User

macrumors 6502a
Feb 24, 2019
574
1,558
I didn't like the look of any of Apple's cases so I went with an aftermarket case with a clear back on it and blue aluminum edging. It arrived today. Looks like it is what I wanted it to be. I wonder how well it will work with this, simply out of curiosity.
 
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nerdherdster

macrumors newbie
Mar 31, 2019
11
20
I hope the magnets in the phone are strong enough for a magnetic car mount. I'd also like to see some MagSafe cases for previous iPhones become available so we can retrofit older models with MagSafe and share charging accessories more easily. Ideally I want a single car mount that is magnetic where I can snap on an iPhone 12 or an iPhone SE and have it work seamlessly, charge quickly, and not be a strange/fiddly third party system.
 
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