Apple MagSafe is making a comeback, as it’s not only starring in the iPhone 12, but also rumoured to feature in the upcoming MacBook Pro 2021 laptop. But what is Apple MagSafe, and why should you be excited?
We’ve assembled this comprehensive guide about the Apple technology, and how it differs on iPhones and MacBooks. So keep on reading if you want to be clued up on everything about MagSafe.
What is MagSafe?
Apple MagSafe is a magnet-based power charger from Apple that magnetically clips onto the device its recharging. It first made an appearance on the MacBook Pro back in 2006, providing a secure connection to your laptop’s power port while still being easy to unplug, preventing your MacBook from taking a tumble if someone tripped on the power lead.
Apple eventually decided to phase out the MagSafe technology, with the 2017 MacBook Air instead opting for USB-C charging since it packs more versatility with display output and data transfer on top of power delivery. However, there are now rumours to suggest Apple will reinstate the MagSafe technology for the upcoming MacBook Pro 2021 laptop.
In 2020, Apple also revealed the iPhone 12 will support MagSafe charging, but in a slightly different form. Instead of using a magnetic cable, the iPhone 12 features magnets in a rear casing that allows it to snap onto Apple’s wireless charging puck.
The charger itself is simple. Round, white and with a silver ring and back. It’s small enough to slip in a bag and sits flush to a table. The magnets inside clip satisfyingly onto the iPhone 12 when you attach and while it will come off if you wave it about, the connection is sturdy. It looks a little bit like a larger Apple Watch 6 charger.
How does MagSafe for iPhone work?
Apple explained the new components within its iPhone 12 models that enable MagSafe. There’s a copper-graphite shield, a magnet array, a polycarbonate housing, a charging coil, an e-shield and an NFC component too. In the centre of all that is an alignment magnet that will ensure the charger sits in the optimal place for maximum charging efficiency.
How fast is MagSafe for iPhone?
MagSafe has a maximum speed of 15W. Not exactly a world-beating figure when you compare it to the 65W fast charging of the OnePlus 8T, but it still beats Apple’s previous best of 7.5w for Qi wireless charging.
A completely depleted iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro took an hour to juice up 50% using the MagSafe charger. The same test on a 7.5W Qi pad from Mophie took well over an hour. So yes, this is far faster wireless charging than iPhones are used too.
But if you’re in a situation where speed is key though, you’re still best off with a cable and a fast plug. With a USB-C 20W plug and cable the iPhone 12 went from 0-to-50% in less than half an hour.
Does MacSafe come with the iPhone 12?
MagSafe accessories are not bundled in with the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, the iPhone 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max. You’ll need to purchase the MagSafe Charger, which costs an additional £39/$39. 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 the iPhone 12 via the MagSafe charger, but a MagSafe-compatible case will ensure a more secure magnetic connection. MagSafe-compatible silicone cases cost £49/$49 on the Apple store.
Can you use MagSafe charger with any case?
No, not every case will support MagSafe charging.
Some third-party iPhone 12 cases without the MagSafe ring will seemingly work, but it largely depends on how thin the case is. If your iPhone case is particularly thick, or features a kickstand at the rear, odds are that it won’t support MagSafe charging.
We recommend keeping an eye out for the MagSafe branding when purchasing an iPhone 12 case. Otherwise, it’s best to play it safe by purchasing official Apple MagSafe accessories.
Can you use MagSafe on iPhone 11?
We don’t recommend using a MagSafe charger for the iPhone 11 or any other Apple smartphone preceding the iPhone 12.
While the MagSafe charger will technically work with an iPhone 11, many people have reported super-slow charging speeds. 9to5 Mac claims the iPhone 11 charging speeds were as slow as 0.96W when using a MagSafe charger, compared to the 15W speed with an iPhone 12.
Does it charge AirPods and Apple Watch?
If you’re hoping the MagSafe Charger will be the magical add-on that charges your entire arsenal of Apple tech than you might be a little disappointed.
As this is a Qi pad, if you have AirPods Pro and AirPods with the wireless case then they’ll both charge up fine here – just don’t expect the magnetic benefits. Speeds are roughly the same as you’d get with a different wireless charger, and still slower than a cable.
However, the Apple Watch uses a proprietary form of wireless charging and won’t work with MagSafe Charger. Apple would 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 slight workaround seems to be the upcoming Duo Charger, an Apple accessory that has a spot for your phone and another dedicated Apple Watch charger.
What about Android phones?
The MagSafe Charger can also charge any Qi-supported Android phone and many I tried, like the Pixel 5, work with the magnets too.
Charging here is slow though (like hours and hours to charge Google’s new flagship). The same goes for older iPhones – if they support Qi (that’s everything from the iPhone 8 onwards) they’ll work, just at very slow speeds. This is fine if you’re charging overnight, but useless for a quick top-up.
Is the MagSafe Charger worth buying for iPhone 12?
The idea of a MagSafe ecosystem is interesting and I have been impressed with the wireless charger so far. It’s faster, well designed and the addition of magnets means you can still use your phone while it’s charging – a constant problem I usually have with wireless charging.
I would like the cable to be a bit longer though, and the fact you’ll still another charger for your Apple Watch is a little bit irritating, if far from a dealbreaker. I’m also curious about whether the magnets really are strong enough for use in things like car mounts, a product Belkin has already announced.
As a £39 add on for the iPhone 12, the MagSafe Charger is a neat charging solution that might one day be the only method to charge your iPhone.
Is MagSafe coming back to MacBook?
Rumours suggest the the upcoming MacBook Pro 2021 could feature MagSafe charging, but this will likely differ to the technology found with the iPhone 12. MagSafe will likely be built into the charging cable to ensure a magnetic connection, just like old models of the MacBook in previous years.
However, there is no confirmation on this right now, so keep an eye on Trusted Reviews for more updates on the MacBook Pro 2021.