Apple MagSafe Battery Pack Review
A handy add-on for a specific type of person
Once you get past the price, the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack is a capable device that wins out due to its deep integration with iOS. This is a handy accessory for those with an iPhone 12 Mini or an iPhone 12 but hardly a must-have.
- Small and compact
- Doubles as a 15w wireless charger
- Perfoms its job very well
- Deep iOS integration
- Won’t fully charge any iPhone 12 model
- It is very expensive
- 5w is pretty slow
- UKRRP: £99
- USARRP: $99
- EuropeRRP: €109
- CanadaRRP: CA$119
- AustraliaRRP: AU$139
- MagSafeMagnets to keep it in place and secure
- Works with iPhoneDesigned for iPhone 12 series, but does work with other Qi devices
Like a lot of Apple’s own accessories for its iPhones, the MagSafe Battery Pack has caused quite the stir since its stealthy release.
The usual calls of being overpriced, lacking in features and so on have been easy to spot in any online discussion about the charger. Yet, after spending some time with it, it’s clear that it serves its purpose very well.
This is easily the most worthwhile MagSafe-branded accessory I have used since the tech was reborn as a magnetic iPhone system alongside the iPhone 12.
- Comes only in white
- Single Lightning port
- Soft finish
The MagSafe Battery Pack is small, simple and distinctly Apple. There are no buttons anywhere, just a Lightning port and an LED that indicates when it’s charged or being charged.
In terms of size, it’s almost exactly the width of the iPhone 12 Mini. It’s small enough to slip into a pocket alongside the phone (11m thick) and it’s very light (113g).
There’s one colour option – white, with a grey back. I can see this getting dirty over time, especially if you keep it in your jeans, so it would have been nice to have a darker shade made available too.
The outer shell is made from a soft-touch plastic that has a nice, grippy texture to it, and the back has a rubberised pad to make sure it sticks to your phone. It’s all very simple and stylish.
There has been some concern about just how strong the magnets are in these MagSafe accessories. The Wallet, for instance, received some criticism for popping off too easily. I’ve found the connection between the battery pack and the phone to be strong, even more so if you’ve got a case on.
There’s a bit of wobble towards the bottom and it will fall off if you really shake the phone, but you probably shouldn’t be shaking your phone in the first place.
Battery Life and Features
- Works with iPhone 12 models (and future MagSafe devices)
- Can’t fully charge any of those models
- Great for small top-ups
The MagSafe Battery Pack isn’t designed to be a charger to give your iPhone 12 multiple boosts.
It is not competing against those hefty packs from the likes of Anker that can keep your phone chugging along through a weekend at Glastonbury or on a camping holiday.
Instead, this is more for those situations where you’re running for the last tube and your phone is close to the red, or waiting for someone’s call and you’re away from the plug.
This purpose is made clear by both the size of the pack itself and, in turn, the fairly small 1460mAh battery. I tested this with all three sizes of iPhone 12 (12 Mini, 12 and 12 Pro Max) and it couldn’t give any of them a full charge.
On the iPhone 12 Mini, it took a completely depleted device to 78%; an iPhone 12 to 60% and an iPhone 12 Pro Max to 49%. Of course, these figures will likely vary, but it’s a handy guide.
Interestingly, the first time you attach the add-on to your phone you’ll get a pop-up saying it won’t attempt to charge your phone past 90%. This makes sense, as it requires a lot of oomph to fill that final 10% and Apple clearly feels the trade-off in efficiency isn’t worth it. If you disagree and want to push it, then there’s an option in the Control Centre to disregard this limit.
When you snap the magnetic battery pack to the back of your phone it will charge at 5W. This is fairly slow, but the same speed is provided by the Anker 5K. 5W is roughly the same as the older plugs that came with iPhones until the 11 series and it does feel very slow if you’re used to something faster. For example, the MagSafe Battery Pack took 120 minutes to charge up a 12 Pro Max until it ran out.
Another use of the MagSafe Battery Pack is as a portable 15W wireless charger. This works when the battery is plugged into a fast USB-C plug. As MagSafe is backwards compatible with Qi, it will charge other phones and accessories like AirPods Pro too – but always at a maximum of 5W. I attached a Pixel 5 and it charged fine.
When the MagSafe Battery Pack runs out of charge there are a number of ways to top it up. You can plug a Lightning cable into the bottom and charge from there, or attach it to the back of an iPhone 12 series and plug the cable into the iPhone. This will then intelligently charge both the phone and battery pack.
The most unique charging method is when you attach the battery to the iPhone and then plug a cable into the battery itself. This then uses a form of reverse wireless charging to juice up both devices. This is another area where the MagSafe Battery Pack shines. Other similar packs I have tried require charging separate to the phone, but due to Apple’s control over the ecosystem, you can charge both with one cable. It is worth noting you don’t get a cable with the Battery Pack, so you’ll need the one from your iPhone.
What you can’t do though is use this to charge other devices with a cable. This is a limit of Lightning not being capable of charging in both directions. If you want to share the power here with a friend, you’ll have to hope they have a Qi-enabled phone.
There’s deep integration in other parts of iOS 14.7 too. You’ll get a pop-up every time you attach the pack with a charge update, and it’ll be visible in the handy iOS battery widget too. If you’ve ever used the previous iPhone battery cases then you’ll be very familiar with this as it’s something you don’t get with third-party products. It’s a shame Apple doesn’t allow accessory makers access to these parts of the OS.
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Should you buy it?
You need some extra juice in your iPhone 12: This is a small, compact add-on that gives some extra charge when you need it most. It also boasts excellent integration into iOS.
You want a huge capacity: This won’t fully charge any of the iPhone 12 models and it’s not really going to do a good job if you want to go from 0-100%. There are better options out there for that purpose.
There’s no getting around it – at £99/$99, this is a pricey add-on. But for many, I think it’s genuinely worth it. If you’ve got an iPhone 12 Mini or iPhone 12 then the extra juice is welcome and the deep integration makes it much better to use than competing products. It also doubles as a very fast wired charger for the iPhone 12 series.
How we test
The MagSafe Battery Pack was tested over a number of days with an iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
While the MagSafe functionality is just for iPhones, it can charge a Qi-enabled Android phone
As a battery pack, it can charge at 5W
You’ll need iOS 14.7 at the least to get all the functionality
mAhAn abbreviation for milliampere-hour and a way to express the capacity of batteries, especially smaller ones in phones. In most cases the higher the mAh, the longer the battery will last but this isn’t always the case.
Qi Wireless Charging
The most common format for wireless charging and the one supported by the majority of devices. Charge speeds vary a lot by the phone.