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What is MagSafe? Apple’s iPhone 13 charging technology explained

Apple's magnetic technology is a feature of the new iPhone 13, so here's a breakdown of how it works and a selection of the top accessories.

Published: Wednesday, 29th September 2021 at 10:53 am

The four handsets that make up Apple’s new iPhone 13 series may have new chips, cameras and colours, but there’s one aspect of the previous line-up of smartphones that the tech giant is more than happy to keep, and that’s MagSafe.

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After being introduced in the iPhone 12 last year, magnetic technology has been used to create an entire ecosystem of cases and wireless chargers for the flagship smartphones – to the point it’s now impossible to imagine them without it.

Accessories that snap onto the back of the iPhones – such as the official MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Battery Pack – have helped introduce new ways to power the handsets, while the selection of silicone cases comes in a variety of colours.

But what is MagSafe, and how does it work? Whether you are new to the iOS world or a seasoned Apple pro who is just unsure, this simple guide has the answers.

Want to know more about the biggest differences between the latest iPhone and its 2020 predecessor? Don’t miss our iPhone 13 vs iPhone 12 comparison.

And if you are considering buying or updating to the latest series, here’s our iPhone 13 review and our iPhone 13 stock page which includes the availability from top UK phone retailers. Thinking about picking up the last-gen handset instead? Here’s our iPhone 12 review.

What is MagSafe? 

MagSafe is the name used by Apple to describe the magnetic technology that’s now built into the back of iPhones. An array of magnets are placed around a Qi wireless charging coil inside the handsets – supporting chargers, sleeves, cases, and wallets that perfectly align and improve the efficiency of power transfer.

Of course, wireless charging is not new. But it’s Apple’s use of magnets that sets its MagSafe products apart from the competition in the smartphone space.

For Apple OGs, the term MagSafe has a very different meaning in 2021 than it did in the mid-2000s when it was first used to describe the magnetic power connectors for MacBooks – a safety feature that popped out the cord if it was pulled by mistake.

While MacBooks now use USB-C, Apple kept the MagSafe name, rebranding it for the release of the four iPhone 12 handsets in October 2020. With a growing store full of accessories, the technology is here to stay and is also inside the iPhone 13.

How does MagSafe work? 

While the name MagSafe is an umbrella term to describe the ecosystem of products and the tech behind them, it mostly refers to the 18 small magnets that are attached to the iPhone charging coil – based on the Qi wireless charging standard.

The use of magnets means that chargers will snap into place and align with the coil inside the iPhone. In a typical Qi wireless charger, if the smartphone is not aligned perfectly, it may not be as efficient and may charge slower as a result.

The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 are fully compatible with other Qi wireless chargers to get up to 7.5W of power, but using an official MagSafe Charger gives faster wireless charging speeds of up to 15W when paired with a 20W or more power adapter.

The added bonus of Apple’s magnets is the add-ons can be securely attached and smoothly removed with ease – whether it’s a car mount or a power bank.

Older iPhones – as far back as the iPhone 8 – support wireless charging, but only the newer iPhone 13 and iPhone 12 handsets come with the magnetic technology.

When shopping for MagSafe products, note that only accessories labelled “made for MagSafe” are officially licensed accessories with the Apple technology.

As stated by Belkin, an Apple partner, other products may be labelled as “MagSafe compatible,” meaning that while they have magnetic features that allow them to connect to the iPhone, they won’t support the faster 15W charging.

Apple notes on its website that the MagSafe Charger may leave a circular imprint on leather cases and warns that its magnets may interfere with medical devices such as implanted pacemakers or defibrillators. It advises users with these should keep their iPhone handset at least 30 cm away from the device if charging wirelessly.

Top MagSafe accessories 

Here are some of the top iPhone accessories that take full advantage of MagSafe technology. These are compatible with the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models.

MagSafe Charger 

Price: £39.00 (RRP) | Buy now from Amazon 

Apple MagSafe Wireless Charger

One of the most well-known MagSafe accessories is the official wireless charger, priced at £39 in the UK. It’s a small puck-shaped device that snaps directly onto the back of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models, providing up to 15W of power.

It can also be used to charge some older iPhones (just without the magnetic snap) alongside the AirPods that come with a wireless charging case. Do note the 20W power adapter is sold separately on Apple’s store and is now priced at £19.00.

MagSafe Battery Pack

Price: £99 | Buy now from Amazon 

iphone battery pack

Unveiled in July this year, the MagSafe Battery Pack aligns with the iPhone magnets to provide wireless charging of up to 5W of power when on the go. If it is connected to a 20W adapter (sold separately), it can charge up to 15W of power.

Belkin 3-in-1 Wireless Charger

Price: £139.95 | Buy now from Amazon 

Belkin 3 in 1 MagSafe charger

This multi-device charger from Belkin not only juices up your iPhone with up to 15W of power but has sections for an Apple Watch and AirPods. When in use, your iPhone can be placed in either portrait or landscape, so it’s still accessible while magnetically attached. This is a fantastic choice for anyone with multiple iOS devices.

iPhone 13 Silicone Case 

Price: £49.00 | Buy now from Amazon 

iPhone silicone case

Yes, around £50 is a lot to pay for a case, but Apple has never been one to shy away from premium pricing. The official range of soft-touch silicone cases come with built-in MagSafe that aligns with the handset and facilitates faster charge speeds. There is also a range of official Apple leather cases, which are priced at £59.00.

iPhone Leather Wallet 

Price: £59.00 | Buy now from Amazon 

iPhone MagSafe wallet

The MagSafe-powered wallet snaps onto the back of your iPhone (even over one of the cases) and is intended to store credit or debit cards. Another neat feature is that it supports Apple’s “Find My” feature, so it will track the wallet’s last known location if it separates from the iPhone. The MagSafe wallet holds up to three cards total.

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