What is MagSafe? Understand Apple’s wireless charging technology

  • MagSafe is a wireless charging technology found in newer iPhone models starting with the iPhone 12.
  • It uses magnets to ensure the charger and phone are perfectly aligned for a top charging speed of 15 watts.
  • MagSafe attaches magnetically to MagSafe accessories only, so other devices don’t snap onto the back of your iPhone.

Apple introduced MagSafe in October 2020, promising fast and convenient wireless charging that was a better alternative to ubiquitous Qi charging systems. Here’s everything you need to know about MagSafe.

What is a MagSafe charger?

MagSafe is a wireless charging technology that Apple debuted with the iPhone 12, and it is directly compatible with the iPhone 12 series and subsequent iPhone models. It’s a form of induction charging that can deliver a fast 15-watt charge, roughly double that of phones with traditional Qi wireless charging.

Like Qi, MagSafe uses inductive charging – coils on both the charger and the phone line up and transfer electrical energy wirelessly over very short distances. But MagSafe uses a series of magnets to precisely align the coils so they can match perfectly every time and charge at a higher wattage (up to 15 watts, depending on the phone and charger) than other wireless charging technologies.

A Magsafe charger connected to an Apple iPhone.

MagSafe accessories attach magnetically to the back of compatible iPhones.

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The magnets also have other applications – you can easily attach MagSafe accessories to your iPhone, such as cases and wallets, which stay firmly attached to the phone via the MagSafe magnets.

How does a MagSafe charger work?

Thanks to the series of magnets around the charging coil on the back of your iPhone, MagSafe accessories such as chargers automatically snap into perfect alignment so the system works automatically. Apple designed the MagSafe charger standard so that only certified MagSafe chargers and accessories can magnetically attach to the MagSafe surface on the back of an iPhone, so other types of magnetic devices won’t be attracted to or stick to your phone.

While the MagSafe charger is capable of charging newer iPhones starting with the iPhone 8, it’s only optimized for models that have the magnetic charging coil on the back of the phone, which includes the iPhone 12 and newer models.

A Belkin Magsafe charger connected to an Apple iPhone.

There are a number of MagSafe chargers and accessories that attach magnetically to the back of the iPhone.

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For best results, always connect the MagSafe charger to the power source before connecting it to the iPhone. This allows the two devices to “negotiate” the connection and set the charging power correctly. If you ever connect your iPhone to a MagSafe charger that’s disconnected, disconnect the devices, reconnect the charger, and reconnect them. This way, your phone is guaranteed to charge at top speed.

What is the difference between wireless charging and MagSafe?

Wireless charging using the Qi standard built into iPhones, Android and other devices has been around for years. Although convenient, it is highly inefficient. There’s no way of knowing how well you’ve adjusted your phone and charger, but you’ll only get maximum charging speed when they’re perfectly aligned – even slightly off and you’ll be charging at a fraction of the top speed.

MagSafe solves this problem by ensuring that the phone and charger are perfectly aligned with the array of magnets that surround the charging coil. MagSafe iPhones can still be charged with regular Qi chargers, although they perform better with a MagSafe charger.

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