What is MagSafe? | CNN Underscored
The iPhone version of MagSafe, Apple’s popular, proprietary charging ecosystem that uses simple magnets to snap onto your phone, became available with the launch of 2020’s iPhone 12. Since then, the technology has been built into all later-model iPhones for more precise, high-speed wireless charging.
However, MagSafe isn’t just for simple chargers anymore. You can now find the easy-to-use, speedy technology built in to accessories like car mounts, phone grips, wallets and much more. The problem is, not everyone with an iPhone 12 or 13 series can automatically take advantage of all MagSafe has to offer.
Before you decide to purchase one of these products, you’ll want a better idea of how MagSafe works and what you need to use it. Here’s everything you need to know, including some of our favorite MagSafe accessories.
If you’ve ever used wireless charging, you may have experienced issues when placing your phone down on a Qi wireless charger. If it wasn’t positioned properly, you’d pick it up hours later only to find that your phone didn’t actually charge at all.
To help fix these annoyances, Apple added magnets inside the phone’s internal charging coil as well as in the Apple MagSafe battery pack (separate purchase) to ensure it hits that sweet spot each time it’s connected. It also uses an NFC antenna to let the iPhone identify which device is being used.
With this new technology, you’ll not only know exactly when your phone is charging, but it allows the phone to be charged at a faster wireless charging speed — up to 15W versus 7.5W that you get from many of the earlier Qi chargers. MagSafe is also compatible with Qi charging, so it can be used to wirelessly charge other iPhones as well as the latest AirPods models with a wireless charging case, but you won’t get those faster charging speeds.
And in case you’re worried that those magnets in your phone will stick to any magnetic device you’re carrying or think you can hang it on the fridge door, that’s a hard no. MagSafe will only attach to other compatible MagSafe accessories.
So, yes, you can charge your Apple iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 faster and easier, but MagSafe technology has also given birth to a deluge of other accessories, including wallets, portable batteries and tripod and car mounts. But before you buy, here are some things to keep in mind when looking at MagSafe accessories.
If you’re looking for the quickest accessories on the market, you’ll want to keep an eye out for brands that work directly with Apple to make “Made for MagSafe” accessories. You’ll see this labeled clearly on the box. This means they’ve been developed and tested to Apple’s MFi guidelines, optimized for iPhone 12 and later, and allow wireless chargers to charge up to 15W using a 20W USB-C wall charger. This charger is not included with the phone.
If you decide to go with third-party products, which are labeled “MagSafe compatible,” you’ll only get 7.5W or 10W of power, depending on the device. These are usually less expensive, but be aware that they will not charge at the fastest possible speed.
If you’re a minimalist who prefers to go case-free, you can just attach MagSafe accessories directly to the back of your phone. The rest of us will need to purchase a MagSafe-enabled phone case, which usually shows a round circle on the inside of the case or says it on the packaging. This is nonnegotiable because a regular case weakens the MagSafe accessory’s ability to attach to your phone.
If you use a wallet attachment or folio-style case, you’ll want to consider removing your credit cards, as the magnets might damage or wipe out the magnetic strip or RFID chip in them.
Now that you know what you need to use MagSafe technology properly, here are some of my favorite MagSafe use cases and accessories for the iPhone 12 and later.
Casetify makes a wide variety of colors and designs with corner bumpers and 360-degree protection against bumps and drops.
For a super-stylish look, hit up Kate Spade’s line, which is lightweight with a slimmer profile but still drop tested to protect your precious device.
If you want the heavy-duty drop protection offered by OtterBox, its lineup now includes plenty of MagSafe cases in varying degrees of protection, the ultimate being the Defender series Pro XT.
CLCKR MagSafe Stand & Grip
I’ve been using phone grips for some time now, especially for propping up phones for Zoom calls. Make sure yours stays firmly attached with a MagSafe CLCKR Stand & Grip, which work in either horizontal or vertical orientation and come in solid and floral patterns.
One of my favorite things about MagSafe grips is that they come on and off easily, and they don’t have to stick permanently to the back of your phone case. Adding the Anker 610 Magnetic Phone Grip to my phone gives it just the right bit of pizzazz.
It works as a grip for hanging onto the phone, and the ring pulls out to convert it into a kickstand for Zooming or watching videos in different viewing positions.
A MagSafe wallet can attach to the back of the phone case, and the OtterBox wallet has a shield that protects your cards from magnetic damage as well as a thumb slot to help slide a card out from the thin case.
Casetify’s wallet attachment has just one slot that can hold two cards, a magnetic shield and an RFID shield to protect from damage and hackers. They come in a dozen colors and can be personalized.
ESR’s HaloLock Wallet Stand
ESR’s HaloLock Wallet Stand is a bifold wallet add-on that holds your ID and cards and does double duty as an adjustable phone stand. I like that you can put your ID or license in the clear window so you can show it without having to take it out.
Portable batteries and charging stands
If your phone always needs a little battery topping off, Anker’s 622 MagGo Magnetic Battery is a portable battery with a built-in foldable kickstand so you can prop up your phone to eye level while it’s charging. It’s slim enough to keep it on while on the go, and it comes in colors like Misty Blue and Lilac, so it matches my phone cases. It can’t hit the 15W fast charging speed while charging magnetically, but it does provide 7.5W of power.
Belkin’s BoostCharge Pro 3-in-1 Wireless Charger with MagSafe fast charges your phone at 15W while also charging your Apple Watch and AirPods — all at the same time. The updated version of the stand is the first third-party accessory to support fast charging for Apple Watch Series 7, taking it from 0% to 80% in about 45 minutes.
If you don’t have a lot of room on your desk and just want to charge your phone, Nomad’s Base One also delivers 15W of fast charging in a beautiful metal and glass design. Base One Max adds the charging puck for Apple Watch. They each come in Silver or Carbide.
Mophie’s affordable and versatile charging pad, the Snap+ Wireless Charger has a small puck-like design, making it perfect for your desk or bedside table. The neat party trick is that it not only charges MagSafe devices, but it also comes with an adapter that attaches to the back of any Android or Google phone — giving it that same magnetic compatibility. Mophie says it delivers 15W of wireless charging for Android devices and 7.5W for iOS devices.
Mounts, adapters and speakers
Whether I’m using my phone for GPS or not, I always like to have it on a car mount on the dashboard so I have easy access. I’ve tried several car mounts, and my favorite is the Anker Magnetic Wireless Charger, which attaches to stay in place and has an adjustable viewing angle. Plus, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as snapping it onto the MagSafe puck and knowing it will stay put. While it is a wireless charger, I often use it just as a mount.
Drivers who prefer vent mounts should look at Mophie’s Snap+ Wireless Vent Mount. It’s small, it stays in place and it holds your phone in place while you drive. It comes with Mophie’s Snap adapter to add magnetic capability to Google and Android phones.
I’ve been using Joby’s GorillaPod flexible tripods for years, and now there’s a MagSafe version to quickly mount your phone. Swap between vertical and horizontal shooting and easily attach and detach your phone, or just twist the jaws to use the secure mounting option.
If you have a phone case that you just can’t bear to part with, or a non-MagSafe phone like an Android or a Pixel, you can still get MagSafe capability using the Spigen OneTap Ring Adapter. Attach the metal ring (there’s an installation guide) to the outside of your phone case and you’ll be able to add MagSafe wallets and other accessories. Just be careful when taking the accessories off so you don’t also peel off the metal ring.
Like to listen to music on the go? The Liddle small magnetic Bluetooth speaker is mighty in sound. It comes with two adhesive metal rings so you can attach it to any nonmagnetic surface, but I prefer to attach it to my phone case so I can take it to the pool. It’s IPX4 water-resistant (withstands splashing) and comes in Rose Gold, Black and Silver.