Apple’s new MagSafe Battery is a white rectangle that you can stick to the back of an iPhone 12 to charge it. This is Apple’s third attempt to design a power bank solution for the iPhone and I like it better than previous battery cases.
However, anyone planning to spend $ 99 on this battery should keep one important fact in mind: Even Apple cannot break the laws of physics. He is just as bound by the same rules of magnetism and electrons as everyone else.
These laws require tradeoffs: a battery that could fully charge most iPhone 12 models would be great. A battery small enough that it wouldn’t look weird on a phone wouldn’t have enough power. In addition, electrons can only flow so fast without accumulating heat and degrading the battery.
Apple has struck a balance between all of these extremes and maintains that balance with tight software integration that aggressively manages how this battery charges your phone. The result is a gadget that focuses singularly on the iPhone – sometimes to its own detriment.
The best part about the MagSafe battery is that it doubles as a fast-charging wireless MagSafe washer when plugged in. The big question, then, is whether all of this is enough to justify the price, especially compared to the competition.
The MagSafe battery does not have enough power to fully charge an iPhone 12 Mini from zero to 100%.
In my testing, the MagSafe battery was completely drained when my iPhone 12 Mini hit 83%, which took 130 minutes to charge. I hadn’t plugged it in for this test, which meant it was charging at a relatively fast 5W rate, to minimize heat and maximize battery life.
I used the iPhone very sporadically during the charging period (mainly to record the results every 15 minutes), although I listened to a 15 minute podcast via Bluetooth, which slowed the charging down a bit. .
Bottom line: It’s a small battery and it will help you charge your iPhone, not fully charge it. On the larger iPhone 12 models, it won’t even hit that 83%.
There is a discussion to be had on the correct way to talk about battery size. The MagSafe battery only has a 1460mAh battery, but this number is not comparable to other batteries as it can withstand more volts (7.62V). So the 11.13 Wh (Watt-hours) rating of the MagSafe battery is the number that really matters. Meanwhile, Anker makes 5,000mAh battery with wireless charging and magnets for under $ 50. It is rated at 18.5 Wh, so the differences are smaller than they appear at first glance.
The discussion of battery measurement is interesting, but that doesn’t change the fact that the MagSafe battery is just plain small. It’s supposed to be pocket-sized and easy to carry, so you should think of it as something that can lengthen your battery life a bit – not to go days without a charger.
As you would expect, the software experience with the MagSafe battery is tightly integrated with the iPhone. There are great animations that show your phone charge and battery charge when you connect it. It also appears on the battery level widget.
More interestingly, when you connect the battery for the first time, your iPhone will display a notice that this battery will not charge your phone more than 90% – by design. Those latter percentage points put a lot of strain on the batteries, and in this context, it’s just not worth it. I think it’s a smart move, but if you absolutely want those last 10%, you can long press the battery icon in Control Center and tell it to charge past 90%.
I know it sounds both complicated and disappointing, but in practice it’s actually the opposite. I would just slam the battery on the back of my phone when I was worried about battery life and not worried about the details. The result didn’t need to monitor battery life as much as I usually do. It’s elegant instead of powerful.
This is all smart, but it only happens with the iPhone. It’s definitely a nicer overall experience than you’d get with the Anker battery, which is thicker to boot. But the Anker has other advantages. Its battery is bigger, on the one hand. It also has a USB-C port that charges both when plugged in. and can be used to charge devices via wire. It’s less stylish for iPhone users, but it’s a lot more versatile.
The Lightning port at the bottom of the MagSafe battery means iPhone users can keep using the same charging cable, so it’s probably the right choice to keep it. It’s just a shame that Lightning can’t charge back and forth like a USB-C port can.
The MagSafe battery is designed to perfectly match the dimensions of the iPhone 12 Mini. It lines up exactly to the edges and is more comfortable to hold than I expected. If you have a larger iPhone, it will sit a bit more awkwardly on the back – it looks really small on the iPhone 12 Pro Max.
I asked Twitter for questions about the drums and I was surprised at the vitriol I saw in my answers – and elsewhere. It’s easy to poke fun at the look of a battery on the back of a phone. It’s also easy to blame it for not providing enough charge. For using it I’m not sure I want it bigger and I definitely wouldn’t want it smaller. For me, a nice external battery does not exist. Ultimately, they are all square or oblong pieces of plastic or metal.
The white plastic has a matte finish which helps with the grip a bit, but I wouldn’t call it a soft feel. I wonder if it will remove stains from the jeans over time, but in the few days I tested it, it has stayed clean.
It snaps onto the back of a case-less iPhone with a satisfying snick. It’s also safe I think you might reasonably expect from something related to magnets. It would be nice if the alignment magnet was a bit stronger, but I’m glad my iPhone doesn’t have magnets so strong that it messes up credit cards. Physics!
You can intentionally shake the battery or slide it around when you put it in your pocket, but I didn’t have these issues. However, if you plan to use it with a case, you definitely need a MagSafe compatible case that itself has magnets. I use a very thin plastic case and this minimum layer was more than enough to keep the magnets from working effectively.
After two days of testing several different MagSafe batteries on an iPhone 12 Mini and an iPhone 12 Pro Max, I came to a surprising conclusion. My favorite part isn’t the battery, it’s the MagSafe charger.
When I think of the MagSafe battery as a MagSafe charging washer that just has a battery attached to it, I think it makes a bit more sense as a product. Apple’s MagSafe washer costs $ 40 – that certainly doesn’t make the asking price of $ 99 for this battery a deal, but it might be worth buying the battery instead of the washer for some people.
I must point out that for $ 99, I would have expected Apple to include at least one Lightning cable. It does not and it does not include a loading brick.
When plugged into a sufficiently powerful wall charger, the MagSafe battery can charge the phone up to 15W, just like the standard MagSafe disc. The charger can refill both itself and your iPhone. If you want to prioritize the charging speed on the iPhone, you can plug in he instead, then the iPhone will use reverse wireless charging to recharge the battery. (Unfortunately, and unlike Android phones, iPhone reverse wireless charging doesn’t work for other devices, like AirPods.)
The best feature of the MagSafe battery is that it is a good MagSafe wireless charger. It’s a decent battery too, but only if you think of it as a small extension cord, which trades longevity for size. Do I wish it had more capacity? Of course. I also wish he could have more capacity without getting bigger than he already is. I don’t blame the physics and understand why Apple chose the size it chose.
But paying $ 99 for all the sleekness and integration of the MagSafe battery doesn’t make sense when there are much cheaper options that are less of a requirement to work with just one phone. A battery is going to look silly no matter what, you might as well buy one that is as versatile as possible.