Ever since Apple’s announcement of MagSafe in its iPhone 12 lineup, I thought the perfect application would be to connect an external battery pack. For those unfamiliar with MagSafe, it builds on existing wireless charging technologies, but because of what I call “Apple magic”, it can provide more power and hence can charge devices more quickly. MagSafe devices attach to compatible devices using very strong magnets, so strong in fact that I can lift my MagSafe charging cable off my desk just by hovering my iPhone over the end of it.
I have always struggled with having enough iPhone battery power to get me through the day. For the past few iPhone versions, my solution has been to use Apple smart cases. These cases contain their own battery from which the iPhone gets its power; once depleted, the iPhone switches to its own battery for power. The reason this solution has worked so well for me particularly is that there is no external battery pack for me to carry around or lose, and no cables to get knotted up or otherwise be in the way. Unfortunately, Apple did not make a case for the iPhone 12 mini and as that’s my current device, I’ve struggled to make sure my phone has enough power to get through the day.
I thought for sure that Apple would release a MagSafe battery pack, but it wasn’t until July 13, 2021 that they actually announced it. To be fair, other companies have released MagSafe compatible battery packs (more about that later), but only Apple’s is MagSafe certified. This might sound like a very small thing, but there is some functionality tied into that certification that does not exist on the non-Apple alternatives.
What I love about it
I love the design of the MagSafe battery pack, it’s sleek, it’s smooth, its corners are not sharp, it fits the back of my iPhone Mini perfectly, it’s everything I would expect in an Apple-designed product. Using the battery pack couldn’t be easier, I just attach it magnetically to the back of my iPhone and that’s it. I don’t have to push a button, don’t have to flip a switch, just let the magnets attach themselves and charging just happens. Because of the strong magnets, the battery pack does not come off easily, not even when removing it from a pocket or when getting jostled around in a backpack. The battery pack itself is charged with a standard lightning cable and if my phone is on it while charging, both my phone and battery pack will charge at the same time. This is fantastic for me as I can charge both overnight with the same cable and if I need to use my phone for something, it’s easy for me to just pull it off the magnetic pack, use it, then drop it back on the pack to continue charging. I’ve saved the coolest feature for last though: Apple’s battery widget shows the actual status of the battery pack in addition to the iPhone’s battery and other bluetooth devices. This means I can quickly look at the widget, or even the Lock Screen, to see how much charge my battery pack actually has and whether it’s charging or not. For me, this is way more accessible than the tiny lights on most battery packs which I can’t see — I always had to sort of guess how much charge my battery packs might or might not have. The MagSafe battery pack also has circuitry that adjust power levels to avoid overheating, I haven’t had a problem with this, so am just taking Apple’s word that this works like it’s supposed to.
What I don’t love about it
The first reason I almost didn’t get Apple’s MagSafe battery pack was its price. At $99, it’s more expensive than alternative battery packs — more than twice as expensive as some. For me personally, the ability to know the current status of the battery from Apple’s battery widget or from the Lock Screen makes this price difference worth it, but it’s still a drawback. In terms of specifications, Apple is not super transparent about how many MA the battery provides and so it’s hard to make a direct comparison with other battery packs. What Apple does tell us is this:
Up to 70% additional charge with iPhone 12 mini and MagSafe Battery Pack*
Up to 60% additional charge with iPhone 12 and MagSafe Battery Pack*
Up to 60% additional charge with iPhone 12 Pro and MagSafe Battery Pack*
Up to 40% additional charge with iPhone 12 Pro Max and MagSafe Battery Pack*Info from Apple’s MagSafe online store page
This tells me that the battery pack does not have the ability to fully charge any of the iPhone 12 lineup, however that additional battery will likely be enough extra to get one through the day, it’s certainly enough for me. That said, alternatives exist with greater power capacities and so I’m listing it as a drawback. As mentioned above, the MagSafe battery pack charges with a lightning cable, this could be a drawback if you prefer battery packs that charge with USBC cables. Actually, to add to this a bit, the MagSafe doesn’t come with any charging cable at all: Most batteries have at least a cheap cable for charging, but with the MagSafe pack, you’re on your own.
I really love the Apple MagSafe battery pack and am glad I purchased it. For me, it provides enough power to ensure I can get through my day while being a slim and convenient solution that I can use at home, or on the go. The strong magnets provide a very solid-feeling connection and I absolutely love being able to check my battery status from the iPhone Lock Screen or battery widget. I realize though that at the $99 price point alone, many might choose to go with alternatives to Apple’s solution. Ultimately, the thing that keeps drawing me to Apple solutions is the same thing that makes me happy with the MagSafe battery pack; it’s elegant and it simply just works.
I have not tried any of the following solutions, but have seen them mentioned in various articles and other places so thought I would list them here for anyone who might want to make their own comparisons. If you do try any of the following solutions, or if you’re happy with one I haven’t listed, let me know in the comments as I’d love to share it with others.