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What is Apple MagSafe? iPhone and MacBook Technology Explained

Apple MagSafe has been used in a number of Apple devices over the years, including the iPhone and MacBook. But what is Apple MagSafe and why is it so important?

We’ve put together this definitive guide to Apple technology and how it differs on iPhone and MacBook. So keep reading if you want to stay up to date on all things MagSafe.

What is MagSafe?

Apple MagSafe first appeared on the MacBook Pro back in 2006 as a magnet-based charger that securely connects to your laptop’s power port, yet is easy to disconnect, preventing your MacBook from falling over if someone trips on the power. Lead.

Ultimately, Apple decided to phase out MagSafe technology, and the 2017 MacBook Air opted for USB-C charging instead, as it has more versatility with display output and data transfer in addition to power delivery. However, the beloved technology is back in the 2021 MacBook Pro series.

In 2020, Apple also revealed that the iPhone 12 will support MagSafe charging, but in a slightly different form. Instead of using a magnetic cable, the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series have magnets on the back of the case that allow it to snap onto the Apple Wireless Charging Puck.

The charger itself is simple. Round, white, with silver ring and back. It’s small enough to fit in a bag and sits flush with a table. The magnets inside attach satisfactorily to the iPhone 12 when you attach it, and while it will come off if you wave it around, the connection is solid. It looks a bit like the larger Apple Watch 6 charger.

The magnetic system built into the phone is suitable for other useful accessories besides charging, including camera tripods, car docks and wallets.

How does MagSafe for iPhone work?

Apple has detailed the new components of its MagSafe-enabled iPhone models. There is a copper-graphite screen, an array of magnets, a polycarbonate body, a charging coil, an electronic screen and an NFC component. At the center of it all is an alignment magnet that ensures the charger is in the optimal location for maximum charging efficiency.

The structure of the iPhone's built-in magnetic charger is divided into layers

How fast is MagSafe for iPhone?

MagSafe has a maximum speed of 15W. It’s not exactly the best when compared to the OnePlus 9 Pro’s 65W fast charging, but it still beats Apple’s previous best of 7.5W for Qi wireless charging.

It took an hour for a fully drained iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro to get a 50% boost with a MagSafe charger, while the same test on a 7.5W Qi tablet from Mophie took over an hour. So yes, it’s much faster wireless charging than the iPhone.

However, if you’re in a situation where speed is key, you’re still better off using a cable and a fast plug. With a 20W USB-C connector and cable, the iPhone 12 goes from 0 to 50% in less than half an hour.

Does MagSafe come with iPhone?

MagSafe accessories are compatible with all iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 series devices, but are not included.

You’ll need to purchase the MagSafe Charger, which costs an additional £39/$39, while the MagSafe Duo Charger is also listed on Apple’s website for £129/$129.

Do you need a MagSafe case?

A MagSafe case is not required to charge your iPhone with a MagSafe charger, but a MagSafe compatible case will provide a more secure magnetic connection. The MagSafe-compatible silicone cases are £49/$49 on the Apple Store.

White iPhone stands next to a wireless charger on a white background

Can the MagSafe charger be used with any case?

No, not every case supports MagSafe charging.

Some third-party iPhone cases without a MagSafe ring will apparently work, but that depends a lot on how thin the case is. If your iPhone case is particularly thick or has a kickstand at the back, chances are it won’t support MagSafe charging.

We recommend paying attention to the MagSafe branding when purchasing an iPhone case. Otherwise, it’s better to play it safe by purchasing official Apple MagSafe accessories.

Can MagSafe be used on iPhone 11?

We do not recommend using the MagSafe charger for the iPhone 11 or any other Apple smartphone prior to the iPhone 12.

While the MagSafe charger will technically work with the iPhone 11, many people have reported super slow charging speeds. 9to5 Mac claims the iPhone 11’s charging speed was just 0.96W when using the MagSafe charger, compared to the iPhone 12’s 15W.

Does it charge AirPods and Apple Watch?

If you’re hoping the MagSafe charger will be the magical addition that powers up your entire arsenal of Apple tech, you might be a little disappointed.

Since this is a Qi mat, if you have AirPods Pro and AirPods with a wireless case, then they’ll both charge fine here – just don’t expect magnetic benefits. The speed is about the same as another wireless charger, and yet slower than a cable.

However, the Apple Watch uses a proprietary form of wireless charging and won’t work with a MagSafe charger. Apple will either need to switch to Qi on the next Apple Watch or make the next MagSafe charger also compatible with the charging method used by the Apple Watch.

A small workaround is the Duo Charger, an Apple accessory that has space for your phone and another dedicated Apple Watch charger.

iphone 12

What about Android phones?

The MagSafe charger can also charge any Qi-enabled Android phone, and many of the ones I’ve tried, like the Pixel 5, also work with magnets.

However, charging here is a very slow process, and the same goes for older iPhones – if they support Qi (that’s all since the iPhone 8), they will only work at very slow speeds. This is fine if you’re charging overnight, but useless for a quick top up.

Should you buy a MagSafe iPhone charger?

The idea behind the MagSafe ecosystem is interesting, and so far I’ve been impressed with the wireless charger. It’s faster, well designed, and the addition of magnets means you can still use your phone while it’s charging, a constant issue I usually run into with wireless charging.

I wish the cable was a bit longer, and the fact that you’ll have another Apple Watch charger is a little annoying, though far from being a deal breaker. I’m also curious if the magnets are really strong enough for use in things like car mounts, a Belkin product that’s already been announced.

As a £39 add-on, the MagSafe Charger is a convenient charging solution that may one day be the only way to charge your iPhone.

Is MagSafe available on MacBook?

The 2021 MacBook Pro has MagSafe charging, but it’s different from the technology used in the iPhone. In this version, MagSafe is built into the charging cable to provide a magnetic connection, just like older MacBooks from yesteryear.

We really liked its inclusion in Apple’s premium laptop – not only does it offer a safety feature (because if you trip over the cable, it just detaches instead of staying taut), but it also charges fairly quickly; in our experience, we went from zero to 50% charge in about 35 minutes, which is in line with Apple’s claims.

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