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Andrew Hayward / Lifewire
Fast iPhone 12 charging
Works with some AirPods cases
Use phone while charging
No power brick
Slowly charges other devices
Like many Apple products, the MagSafe Charger commands a premium price compared to similar gadgets—but it may be tempting for iPhone 12 owners.
Our reviewer purchased the Apple MagSafe Charger so they could test it out to its full capabilities. Read on for their full take.
Every iPhone released since 2017—even the budget-friendly iPhone SE (2nd Gen)—has supported wireless charging, although it has maxed out at 7.5W, a relatively slow pace compared to wired charging. The ability to pop your phone onto a charging pad is more convenient than plugging in a cable, but it sips slowly at the power source. Some rival Android phones have embraced faster wireless charging speeds up to 15W, with a small number even reaching the 30-40W range.
Curiously, the new iPhone 12 models still max out at 7.5W for wireless charging when using a standard Qi charging pad, but there’s a new alternative: Apple’s own new MagSafe Charger. This small pad snaps onto the back of any iPhone 12 model and provides up to double the speed, 15W, when using a powerful-enough wall charger (not included). It is well-designed yet a bit expensive for its very limited and specific task. Still, it’s a pretty handy tool to have around if you’re willing to pay for it.
The MagSafe Charger takes the shape of a small disc that’s just over two inches in diameter and a mere 0.2 inches thick. It’s connected to a fairly short 1-meter cable with a USB-C port at the end, which you’ll plug into a compatible wall adapter that can handle 20W or more of output.
That’s all there is to it. The MagSafe Charger is very small and easy to cart around in a bag or pocket, and even the box it comes in isn’t much larger than the accessory itself. Also, the fact that you can continue to use the phone in your hand while it’s charging is a unique perk that you won’t find with other, non-magnetic wireless chargers. However, if you're intent on having the phone charge steadily rather than sip extra power while resting on the pad, then you might as well plug in a cable for faster wired charging instead.
The MagSafe Charger is very small and easy to cart around in a bag or pocket, and even the box it comes in isn’t much larger than the accessory itself.
Using the MagSafe Charger is as simple as plugging the USB-C port into the aforementioned wall charger, which does not come with the accessory, and then snapping the magnetic disc onto the back of any iPhone 12 handset. All four models have the MagSafe magnetic attachment point built into the back of the phone, beneath the glass, and the charger snaps on easily and holds pretty tight.
It also works with wirelessly-chargeable AirPods cases (including the AirPods Pro), and can charge older iPhones and wirelessly-chargeable Android phones and accessories, albeit without the secure magnetic attachment.
The MagSafe Charger powers up the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max at a rate of 15W. The compact iPhone 12 mini, with its much smaller battery pack, charges at a rate of 12W instead. I tested the MagSafe Charger with the iPhone 12, 12 Mini, and Pro Max.
Starting from empty, the iPhone 12 reached 31 percent charged in 30 minutes and 54 percent after one hour, with the full 100 percent charge taking 2:24. The larger iPhone 12 Pro Max battery took a bit longer on all fronts, hitting 28 percent in 30 minutes, 53 percent in one hour, and ultimately 100 percent in 2:42. Even though the iPhone 12 Mini charges a bit slower, the smaller size made it the fastest in all benchmarks: it reached 39 percent in 30 minutes and 68 percent in 60 minutes, but that last chunk took a while given a 2:12 finishing time at 100 percent.
All told, the MagSafe Charger provides faster charging speeds than a traditional Qi wireless charger on the iPhone 12 but isn’t as fast as plugging in a Lightning cable via a 20W wired USB-C charger. The MagSafe Charger also charges AirPods that have wirelessly-chargeable cases, but it’s not clear what speed it charges at. Sadly, it doesn’t charge Apple Watches due to the curved back of Apple’s wearable device and use of a different charging standard, although that would have been a great perk to give it further purpose and functionality.
Other Qi-compatible devices can charge at slower speeds than the iPhone 12 and it’s definitely slower. I tested the Google Pixel 5 on the MagSafe Charger, which had a light magnetic attachment due to the metal backing on much of the phone. After 30 minutes it had only reached a 10 percent charge, and then it was at just 18 percent after an hour. It would take several hours to push it all the way to 100 percent, and given that, you should just use a USB-C cable.
The MagSafe Charger powers up the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max at a rate of 15W. The compact iPhone 12 Mini charges at a rate of 12W instead.
Compared to other wireless and wired charging options for iPhone 12, the MagSafe Charger provides a good middle ground in terms of convenience and capabilities. However, the MagSafe Charger costs twice as much as your average wireless charging pad. If you already have a wireless charging pad, then I’m not sure it’s worth buying yet another charging mechanism that only works to its full capabilities with an iPhone 12. On the other hand, if you like the convenience of wireless charging but the slow speed is an annoyance, then maybe it’s worth the $39.
The MagSafe Charger can charge your iPhone 12 at twice the rate of a standard Qi wireless charger, and it costs about twice as much as the popular Anker PowerWave Stand. It’s a large enough charging speed difference that you might consider the MagSafe Charger, but only if you have an iPhone 12. Otherwise, go for a more generalized and versatile Qi charger like the Anker PowerWave Stand or a similar pad/stand.
Fast, effective, and expensive
Apple’s MagSafe Charger works well at its intended task but it’s pricey for a small wireless charger that doesn’t even come with the needed power brick. However, it’s the only way to get wireless 15W charging on the iPhone 12 (or 12W on the iPhone 12 Mini). If you already have a wireless charger, then picking up a MagSafe Charger is probably unnecessary. On the other hand, if this is new territory for you, then you’ll have to consider whether you’re willing to pay twice the price for twice the wireless iPhone 12 charging speed.
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