iPhone 12 charger: Everything you need to know

iPhone 12 box
iPhone 12 box (Image credit: Apple)

You may have heard the big news: Apple is making some changes to what comes in your iPhone's box. The iPhone 12, like the 2020 Apple Watch lineup before it, will ship without a charger. There'll only be an iPhone, a charging cable, and some documentation in the box when you unpack your iPhone this fall.

But just what is the full rundown of the iPhone 12 charger situation? Here's what you need to know.

Will any iPhone 12 have a charger?

No. As with the Apple Watch, this year, Apple has elected not to include a charger (or lightning EarPods) in the box with the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro, or iPhone 12 Pro Max. Apple is also removing the chargers and wired EarPhones from the other iPhones it sells: the iPhone SE (second generation), iPhone XR, and iPhone 11.

What does the iPhone 12 come with?

The box for the iPhone 12 line is pretty simple now. It comes in a smaller box, and in that box are just three things: your iPhone, a USB-C-to-Lightning cable, and documentation.

What charger will iPhone 12 use?

While the iPhone 12 will be able to charge via any Lightning cable, Qi charger, or, starting this year, MagSafe charger that you have, the iPhone 12 line only comes with a Lightning-to-USB-C cable. So if you want to charge with the included cable, you'll need to get a wall charger equipped with a USB-C port.

Is an iPhone 12 charger sold separately?

While Apple doesn't make a specific iPhone 12 charger, there are several chargers, both from Apple and others, that you can pick up right now.

Does the iPhone 12 support faster charging over USB-C?

Yes, you can fast-charge your iPhone 12 using the included Lightning-to-USB-C cable and a USB-C power charger.

I have an 18W USB-C charger. Will that work for iPhone 12 fast charging?

It might. While fast charging works on older iPhones with Apple's 18W USB-C charger, for whatever reason, Apple claims that you need at least a 20W charger to fast charge your iPhone 12. While 18W chargers are fast charge-capable according to Apple's support document, in that same document, Apple says that the iPhone 12 requires a 20W or better charger.

But our testing, it's been found that the 18W charger, while not as fast as its 20W counterpart, will charge your iPhone to over 50% in half an hour. It's just not as much over 50%.

If you do want a 20W charger, the good news is that, in addition to Apple's own charger, there are already a few solid 20W chargers out there that work with USB-C. Some are even less expensive than Apple's charger.

What kind fo charger do I need for MagSafe?

MagSafe offers a maximum charging output of 15W when connected to an iPhone with MagSafe, and Apple stresses the need for a 20W charger. You could get Apple's 20W charger to use with MagSafe and call it a day.

If, however, you want to use a third-party charger, maybe one that's a bit less expensive, there are a couple of essential stats specs that it needs. First, it need to explicitly support USB-C PD, or Power Delivery, which specifically uses USB-C for power. Second, your charger needs to support charging at at least nine volts at 2.2 amps (often written as 9V 2.2A). If your charger meets both of these specification along with supporting 20W charging, then you should be good to go.

What's the iPhone 12 charger price from Apple?

Apple's 20W USB-C power charger is available directly from the company for $19.

Why is Apple selling iPhone 12 without a charger?

I think this is a two-fold answer. I think some of this is about saving Apple money. Not money on manufacturing so much, though, as money on shipping. Apple isn't just removing the chargers and headphones from iPhone boxes; it's actually shrinking the boxes themselves.

And this is where Apple's economic needs and environmental messaging shake hands. Because smaller boxes mean that more iPhones can be packed into shipping pallets. More iPhones per pallet means more iPhones per flight. More iPhones per flight means fewer overall cargo flights. This not only reduces Apple's shipping bill, but it also brings down its overall carbon footprint.

While it's easy to take a fully cynical view of Apple's environmental stances, the fact of the matter is that the company continues to make these environmentally-friendly moves. But the key here is that they don't have to do it. Nothing is requiring Apple to be more environmentally friendly. Yet it is. It's hard work, and it costs Apple not a little money to do things like go carbon neutral at its facilities.

So yeah, there are cynical business reasons to remove the chargers. Of course. But the amount of e-waste these components produce is no joke. Apple's Lisa Jackson said this move is the equivalent of removing some 450,000 cars from the road every year. That isn't nothing, even if it kind of sucks for people who need a charging brick.

What is the best wireless charger for iPhone 12?

The iPhone 12 lineup can make use of any standard Qi charger, and there are several great wireless chargers for your new iPhone the choose from. Qi on iPhone 12 continues to support up to 7.5W charging.

Also new to iPhone 12 this year is MagSafe. MagSafe supports a proprietary inductive charging method that offers up to 15W charging.

Is there a better USB-C-to-lightning cable to get than the one Apple ships?

While the included cable will be fine at first, Apple's cables aren't exactly known for their durability. Instead, you should get one of the many USB-C-to-Lightning cables out there right now. There are too many cables out there made of sturdier materials, like braided nylon, to settle for Apple's default cord.

More questions?

If you have any more questions about the iPhone 12 charger situation, let us know in the comments.

Joseph Keller

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.