Bottom line: Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack will help extend your iPhone's battery for a few more hours, but don't expect it to quickly charge your iPhone unless it's plugged in. The size is pretty compact, and the hard plastic has a soft-touch finish that feels nice.
Fully integrated into iOS 14.7 and later
Fairly compact size with strong magnets
Unlocks iPhone 12 reverse wireless charging
Can be used as a wired MagSafe charger
Charges up other Qi-compatible devices
Battery can "wiggle" while attached
Can feel bulky
Only available in white
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When Apple first introduced the iPhone 12 lineup last year, one of the defining features was MagSafe. By adding magnets inside the iPhone, Apple enabled a whole new world of possibilities when it came to iPhone accessories. It gave us new ways to charge, get a grip, and even attach wallets to our iPhones.
As MagSafe was still in its infancy, most of the chargers that we've seen so far require being plugged into an outlet. But eventually, we've been getting more MagSafe portable batteries, and now Apple has officially come out with its own.
It only took about 10 months for Apple to release its own battery pack, so better late than never, I suppose. But how does it stack up with the competition that is already out there? Let's find out.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Price and availability
Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack is available directly from Apple in-store and online, as well as other major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, B&H Photo, and Walmart. It only comes in one color option, which is white. The MagSafe Battery Pack costs $99. Since it's a new product, there aren't any deals available for it yet, but we may see some possible savings when Black Friday rolls around.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Extends your iPhone's battery for the day with smart features
While we were under the impression that the MagSafe Battery Pack would have a silicone finish like the Smart Battery Cases that came before it, that's not the case at all. Apple seems to have used a hard plastic material for the MagSafe Battery Pack, and it is a bit reminiscent of the original white plastic body MacBook from the 2006 — rounded corners and all. Even though it's a hard material, it has a smooth, soft-touch finish on the exterior that is pleasant to touch. Along the bottom, you'll find a single Lightning port, as well as an LED status indicator.
Though Apple doesn't give exact specifications, according to the Amazon page listing, the dimensions of the MagSafe Battery Pack are 4.46-by-3.24-by-0.93 inches, and it weighs about 6.53 ounces. For comparison purposes, the Anker one is 3.66-by-2.46-by-0.63 inches and about 4.6 ounces, while mophie's is 2.64-by-4.41-by-0.49 inches and 4.77 ounces. In my real-life comparison, the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack is just a smidge bigger than Anker's but slimmer and much smaller than mophie's while retaining that similar thinness profile.
On the flat side with the MagSafe attachment, it has a smooth silicone padding, which prevents your iPhone from getting scratched up with the battery pack. I was surprised at how strong the magnetic attachment is. While it's not as strong as the PopSockets PopGrip for MagSafe (with a claim of 6x stronger magnets than other products) that I use daily, the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack magnets are slightly stronger than the Anker and mophie magnetic battery packs. Once you snap it on your iPhone (with or without a MagSafe-compatible case), it's pretty much in place.
However, it does wiggle a bit, and with enough pressure or force, it comes off easily. But I was able to slide it easily in and out of the back pocket of my jeans without it slipping off, so that's a bonus. It feels more comfortable in my pocket than both the Anker and mophie batteries. When the MagSafe Battery Pack is on, it feels quite similar to holding an older iPhone in the Smart Battery Case due to the "bump" on the back of the iPhone. The difference is that with the MagSafe Battery Case, you can use it with any MagSafe case you want or not, and it's much easier to take it off when you don't need it.
The MagSafe Battery Case only comes in white, to the dismay of many (including me). But be warned — the white of the MagSafe Battery Pack is a bright white, so it may not even match with your white Apple Silicone Case, which is more of an off-white hue. So if you wanted something that looks as seamless as the previous Smart Battery Cases, well, you may be out of luck.
An important thing to note in the review, in terms of size: the MagSafe Battery Pack will fit perfectly on an iPhone 12 mini without blocking the camera or hanging off the edges like the mophie option. On an iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro, it's similar to the old Smart Battery Cases, except you have a little bit of spacing around the edges of the battery pack. With the iPhone 12 Pro Max, there will be even more spacing between the battery pack itself and the edges of the phone.
When I first got my MagSafe Battery Pack, it arrived dead with 0% charge. I plugged it into my iMac, and it took a little over an hour to get it to 100%. So because it's a smaller capacity than other battery packs, it doesn't take very long at all to fully charge it.
If you were expecting Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack to wirelessly fast charge the iPhone 12, well, you're going to be disappointed on that front. When the battery pack is attached via MagSafe, you're only going to get a max output of 5W, which is basically what the Anker one provides. However, if you plug the MagSafe Battery Pack in with a Lightning cable, then it can act like a regular MagSafe charger with a full 15W charging output. So theoretically, you could use the MagSafe Battery Pack as your default MagSafe Charger with the option to take it with you on the go if need be.
But since this is Apple, there are some factors programmed into the battery itself for efficient charging. For example, if it's too hot, charging will be much slower or not go past 80%. I was experiencing this issue on my first test because it's been around 90 degrees in my neighborhood, and I don't have central air in the house. I had the MagSafe Battery Pack attached to my iPhone 12 Pro for about an hour, and the iPhone battery did not go up at all — in fact, it went down 1% in that time (68% to 67%). I tried again in the evening, however, in my bedroom with a window air conditioning unit, so the environmental temperature was cooler. This got me better results: one hour while attached to my iPhone got me about 15% charge (from 75% to 91%), and there was 70% (from 100%) remaining on my MagSafe Battery Pack.
Now, there's a safety feature built-in to the MagSafe Battery Pack where it will not charge your iPhone beyond 90%. Apple doesn't actually state why this is, but we can probably guess that it has something to do with efficiency. However, if you really need it to go past 90%, it's possible to force it by opening Control Center, pressing and holding the Low Power Mode icon, and then selecting "Charge past 90%." I enabled this, but it also feels like the charge from 90% to 100% is slower and more of a trickle charge. Again, we can only assume that Apple designed it this way to help preserve battery life on both the battery pack and the iPhone itself.
One of the benefits that the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack has over the competition is the ability to unlock reverse wireless charging on the iPhone 12 lineup. This works when you have the MagSafe Battery Pack attached to your iPhone, but you plug the Lightning cable into your iPhone rather than the battery pack itself. When you do this, you'll be charging up your iPhone, but the iPhone will also charge up the MagSafe Battery Pack once its battery is 100%. While I don't plan to use it very much this way, it's nice to know that reverse wireless charging with the iPhone is actually possible, and hopefully, we get that feature unlocked with the iPhone 13.
When you use the MagSafe Battery Pack to charge up your iPhone in optimal temperatures, it doesn't get too hot, but it does emit and dissipate heat. However, from my experience, charging up the MagSafe Battery Pack directly with a Lightning cable plugged into my power strip made the battery pack feel very hot — almost uncomfortable to hold. This didn't happen as I plugged it in from my iMac, so you'll want to ensure that you have a proper 20W iPhone charger for best results.
The MagSafe Battery Pack can also be used as a standard Qi-compatible wireless charger with other devices. So yes, you can use it to charge up your AirPods, older iPhones, and even Android devices if you need to. Just understand that it will be 5W output, and expect it to get warm while charging since it utilizes Qi charging coils.
One of the main reasons why I wanted the MagSafe Battery Pack is because it integrates directly into iOS itself. As long as you have iOS 14.7 or later, the MagSafe Battery Pack will show up in the Batteries widget on your Home screen, and you get the cool MagSafe animation on the screen.
At the moment, if you're using the iOS 15 beta, it won't display the correct battery pack icon in the widget. You should still see it, but it will be with a different, generic icon for charging. Hopefully, this will be rectified in future iOS 15 beta releases.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: This is peak Apple design and pricing
As much as I was looking forward to Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack, I can't help but feel a little let down with some aspects of it. Let me explain.
When I discovered that it was technically "too hot" for me to use my MagSafe Battery Pack to charge up my iPhone, I was definitely disappointed. I live in Southern California, and it's summertime — it's going to be hot. I live in a house that lacks central air, so rooms can be in the high 80's or low 90's (I have fans running constantly with open windows), depending on the weather and time of day. It's a little annoying that I won't be able to use this battery pack if it's considered too hot, and even if I'm outside, sometimes my iPhone already feels warm just being in my pocket. While I will continue to keep it stowed away for when I need a little extra juice, I'm just a little sad that I'll have to make sure I'm in an optimal environment before I do so.
I was also surprised that Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack does not go beyond 5W for wireless charging. I, like many others, was under the impression that if it was going to do a MagSafe battery, it would be able to do it around 15W. But no, it's topped off at 5W for wireless, much like the Anker option. So while you'll be able to squeeze a few extra hours out of your iPhone with the MagSafe Battery Pack, just don't expect it to quickly charge up your device wirelessly — it wasn't meant for that. And be careful with what you charge the MagSafe Battery Pack up with because it can get pretty hot if you aren't using optimal charging adapters.
Lastly, the MagSafe Battery Pack has less capacity (on paper) at 1460mAh (7.62V, 11.13Wh) while being much more expensive than existing alternatives on the market. But keep in mind that the MagSafe Battery Pack has a higher watt rating and double the voltage (7.62V versus 3.7V of both Anker and mophie), which suggests that there may actually be two cells inside, bumping that paltry 1460mAh capacity to 2920 instead. This is not confirmed by Apple, but if you look at the math, it's suggested. Still, it's less than 5000mAh of competing products and double the price. However, the competition does not integrate directly into iOS itself, nor are there "intelligent" (more efficient) charging features, which could make the price tag worth it.
Oh, and why not more colors than white, Apple? I like the white myself, but it would have been nice to have more options available, especially to match the colors of iPhones available. And while the white looks nice now, I'm wondering how long it will hold up — it's unclear if yellowing will be an issue, but I guess we'll find out over time.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Competition
Since the iPhone 12 was introduced, we've gotten quite a few magnetic portable battery packs. One of the most talked-about ones is Anker's PowerCore Magnetic 5K. The size of this one is a tad smaller than Apple's but slightly thicker, and it has a pretty good magnetic attachment as well, while the exterior is a rubberized plastic finish. It also charges at 5W output for wireless charging, but it also uses USB-C for input (11W) and output (10W). It's also half the price of Apple's with 5000mAh capacity, but the voltage is only 3.7V.It also does not integrate directly with iOS, but it also has a power button, so you control when you want to use it.
The other alternative that I've personally tried myself is the mophie snap+ juice pack mini. This one is larger than both Apple and Anker but is slim (it won't fit well on an iPhone 12 mini, however, despite the name). It has a fabric exterior, max 7.5W wireless charging output, and it also uses USB-C with a 5000mAh capacity but 3.7W voltage. And again, it won't integrate directly with iOS.
For a more in-depth comparison, make sure to check out our comparisons of Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack versus Anker and mophie.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want an official MagSafe Battery Pack
- You like having efficient wireless charging and versatility
- You prefer having direct iOS integration
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You don't care about charging efficiency or iOS integration
- You're on a budget
- You don't have an iPhone 12
If you've been waiting for Apple's solution for a MagSafe battery, then this is it. The MagSafe Battery Pack may have what appears to be a small capacity on paper, but it is more efficient than competing products, despite the 5W wireless output. It can also double as a regular MagSafe charger with 15W of output and can draw power from your iPhone 12 through reverse wireless charging if need be. And since this is not a battery case, it is very likely to be compatible with the next generation of iPhones as well, and you can use it to wirelessly charge other Qi-compatible devices too. Oh, and having direct integration with iOS 14.7 and later is incredibly nice to have as well.
However, it isn't without its flaws. The price of admission for this battery pack, with what appears to be smaller capacity than others, is high. It also won't work very well if you're in an environment that is considered "too hot" for charging, which is another factor to consider. Since it only has a Lightning port, you cannot use this as a regular battery pack with other devices, only wirelessly.
And if you wanted the MagSafe Battery Pack in a color to match your iPhone 12, well, too bad because it only comes in one color, white. Maybe more colors will be available in the future, but for now, that's all we have.
Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.
When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.
So I'm a little confused... Can you get 15W charging by connecting the MagSafe Battery Pack to your iPhone using a Lightning cable? Is there even such a thing as a Lightning-to-Lightning cable? Or does 15W require having the battery pack magnetically connected to your iPhone while also connected to a 20W charger via Lightning cable? if this is the case, does anyone consider it useful to pay $100 for a portable battery that only charges at 5W?