iPhone 12 is here. And with it, the return of MagSafe. Yes, that's right, MagSafe.
With iPhone 12, Apple has added a brand new way to charge your phone into the mix. Thanks to an array of magnets in the back of the device, you can now attach Apple's new MagSafe charger to your phone effortlessly.
What is it?
MagSafe is an old Apple technology made new with iPhone 12. iPhone 12 is a high-powered wireless charging method for your iPhone. Think Apple Watch charging, and you'll get pretty close. We saw leaks in the run-up to iPhone 12 that Apple's new phone had a ring of magnets in the back, it does, and now we know why.
MagSafe improves wireless charging for a better, more efficient experience, and introduces an ecosystem of easy-to-attach accessories that beautifully complement iPhone 12 models. MagSafe delivers a unique experience to iPhone, featuring an array of magnets around the wireless charging coil, optimized for alignment and efficiency, that perfectly connects to iPhone every time. MagSafe chargers efficiently provide up to 15W of power, while still accommodating existing Qi-enabled devices. Charging solutions include the MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Duo Charger for use with iPhone and Apple Watch, as well as new silicone, leather, and clear cases that easily snap onto the back of iPhone, and a leather wallet. Customers can also expect innovative MagSafe accessories from third-party manufacturers.
As noted above, the magnet array in the iPhone 12 is used to align MagSafe accessories with the iPhone, and that includes any third-party accessory that utilizes the MagSafe magnet ring setup. One interesting note here: as part of the MagSafe ring, Apple has a new magnetometer and an NFC ring, which both aid in the detection of MagSafe accessories. This can lead to interesting interactions. For instance, connecting one of Apple's silicone MagSafe cases to an iPhone 12 while the screen is on causes the screen to flash the color of the case as a digital MagSafe ring animates on the screen.
New charging tech means new accessories. Apple has a couple and is promising offerings from third-parties in the future.
First, Apple's Silicon cases for iPhone 12 and 12 Pro all support MagSafe charging. They have built-in magnets to line up your iPhone charger.
The same goes for Apple's Clear Case with MagSafe, a colorful new lineup of cases that helps you line up your charger like the first set.
There is obviously the new MagSafe Charger itself, which actually works with all iPhones as far back as iPhone 8, AirPods Pro, AirPods 2nd generation, and the Wireless Charging Case for AirPods.
Finally, there's a new iPhone leather wallet that magnetically attaches to the back of your iPhone.
Apple has also teased a dual Magsafe charger for iPhone and Apple Watch at its event but didn't give us much information about them.
Do I need a new case?
Apple's new MagSafe charger is specifically designed to work with Apple's own MagSafe accessories like its silicone case. However, you can use MagSafe to charge your iPhone even if it doesn't have a case on it. You can also try to use MagSafe with a case that isn't specifically MagSafe compatible, although results with this will likely vary depending on the case's material and thickness.
One thing to keep in mind about case thickness? Apple is telling accessory makers that for MagSafe to work through the case, it can only be a maximum of 2.1mm thick, while Apple recommends a thickness of 2.0mm. That's thinner than a lot of the bulkier protective cases out there, so just be aware of that.
You can even use the MagSafe charger on other devices like AirPods and older iPhones, just note that those will not have the magnetic charging ring that the iPhone 12 does, so the connection will be less secure.
Apple's MagSafe charger is a 15W charger. That means charging through MagSafe will be a bit slower than using a cable and a 20W charger, but twice as fast as using a regular wireless charging mat, limited to 7.5W.
According to Apple, you will need a power adapter of at least 12W in order to use MagSafe, however testing and Apple's website indicates you won't' get the full 15W experience unless you use something like Apple's 20W charging adapter. From Apple:
Connect the USB-C connector on your MagSafe Charger to a 20 watt (W) or greater Apple USB-C power adapter. Your MagSafe Charger needs a power adapter of at least 12 W of power, and your iPhone charges less quickly when using a power adapter that provides less than 20 W. You can also connect to a USB-C port on a Mac or to third-party adapters that comply with applicable safety standards.
Whilst compatible with other third-party charging bricks, tests have shown that they are not well supported, with chargers of up to 65W not giving out full speed charging through MagSafe. However, if you have a charging brick that offers at least 20W and is compatible with USB-C Power Delivery, MagSafe should charge at the full 15W.
Is the iPhone 12 magnetic now?
Sort of. Videos and reviews across the web show the iPhone 12 will now pick things like paper clips up on the back, and Apple warns that charging through MagSafe could damage credit cards, security badges, passports, and key fobs if you leave them between the phone and the charger.If you have one of Apple's own MagSafe cases, you can use the case to stick your iPhone to something like a fridge. But you must use a case.
MagSafe is just one more way to charge your iPhone and could pave the way for our first-ever rumored portless iPhone next year. It also opens up a whole new avenue of magnetic accessories for the iPhone, so stay tuned.
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