MagDart Is MagSafe for Android, but Why Do We Even Want 'Wireless' Charging?

Wireless? More like useless, amirite?

Key Takeaways

  • MagDart is a 50 Watt induction charger for Realme phones.
  • Induction charging wastes up to 20% of its energy as heat.
  • 'Wireless' charging is harder to use, and requires more hardware than a wire.
Realme smartphone using a MagDart wireless charging dock

Realme

MagDart is an Android answer to Apple’s MagSafe chargers, only it’s kind of better, and kind of nuts. 

MagDart comes from Realme, and is both a new technology and a new range of accessories for the upcoming Realme Flash phone. But do we even want these magnetic, "wireless" chargers? They add just a single point of convenience, and are worse in almost every other way. 

"Wireless charging is very dependent on the position of the device," Micah Peterson of Battery Market told Lifewire via email. "It works by generating an electromagnetic field between two coils: one in the charger and one in the device. If one of the coils is offset (phone not centered on the charger) then charging will slow or stop."

MagDart

Typically for Android devices, MagDart offers more features than Apple’s accessories, but includes one very weird design choice.

The first improvement is that the MagDart can supply up to 50 watts, whereas MagSafe manages only 15W. That sounds great, until you consider the heat. Magnetic induction creates heat, and heat is the enemy of lithium-ion batteries. 

How MagDart charging works

Realme

One of the fastest ways to degrade a phone battery is to charge it while hot. Happily, the MagDart has a solution: an air-cooling system built into the charger. But this, combined with the high-wattage output, means the charger is big. It’s more like a laptop charging brick than a svelte MagSafe (or Qi) puck.

Realme also makes a thinner 15W version, plus a battery pack, a wallet, a case, and a "beauty light," which is an adjustable LED light panel for selfies. But do we really want "wireless" chargers anyway?

Wireless—Only With Wires

If you ever used Qi, or MagSafe, or any other wireless charging method, you will have immediately noticed the wires. Unlike Wi-Fi, which really is wireless, "wireless" charging is no such thing. The selling point is that it’s easier to drop the phone onto a charging base than it is to plug in a cable, but the convenience ends there. 

For instance, say you want to pick up your phone to check Instagram. With a cable, no problem. just pick it up and use it. With Qi, MagSafe, or MagDart, if you pick it up, it stops charging.

"Wireless charging is very dependent on the position of the device."

It’s not all bad news though. Induction charging has some real advantages.

"Wireless chargers can also be useful when a phone won’t charge through the USB port due to detecting water, or from physical damage," says Peterson. "Wireless charging is also beneficial from a security standpoint: No more plugging in your phone to an unknown USB port at the airport or café which can expose your device to some nasty malware."

Inefficient

In terms of convenience, it’s something of a wash. If you prefer one charging method over the other, most modern phones let you pick the one you like. But in terms of efficiency, wires win. Easily.

Both problems spring directly from the induction-charging tech, itself. Electricity is converted to a magnetic field by the first coil, then that field induces an electric current in the second coil (the one in your phone). Then, that electricity charges the battery. 

Using a battery is already less efficient than running straight from the wall. Induction wastes even more energy—up to 20% in typical phone chargers. And that wasted energy turns into heat. 

graph showing how fast MagDart charging is

Realme

"Wireless charging requires more hardware, both in the phone and in the charger, which contributes to global waste," says Peterson. "The heat generated in wireless charging damages the lithium-ion battery in the device, which means the user will end up replacing it sooner, and since these batteries are glued and sealed into their devices, the user will likely end up recycling their phone much earlier."

It is possible to mitigate some of this. Apple uses smart charging tech to pause charging in its new MagSafe battery pack, so that the iPhone won’t charge over 80% while hot. And Realme has added cooling features to the charger, itself. 

Individually, it’s not so bad. But if you consider the hundreds of millions of new phones sold every year, those inefficiencies add up fast. And for what? We still use a wire. It’s just that now, we have an extra complicated connector between the wire and the phone.

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