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.
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 (opens in new tab) 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:
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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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9
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