Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • MagSafe accessories offer convenient features like power snapping, safe charging, automatic alignment, and support for additional accessories.
  • Genuine MagSafe products have undergone rigorous testing, while “MagSafe compatible” chargers may offer slower charging speeds.
  • MagSafe technology allows for smart use cases like secure magnetic alignment, Nightstand functionality, and enhanced Continuity Camera features.


If you don’t yet use MagSafe accessories, you’re missing out on one of the iPhone’s most convenient features. MagSafe brings benefits such as power snapping, safe charging, automatic alignment, and support for additional accessories to the iPhone 12 and later.


What Is MagSafe? Is MagSafe Worth the Money?

MagSafe is Apple’s proprietary wireless charging protocol based on the Qi (pronounced “chee”) industry specification. A circular magnet array and a vertical magnet in an iPhone create a secure connection that aligns the charging coil with the charging pad.

Apple MagSafe for iPhone.
Apple


Genuine MagSafe products are marked with a “Made for MagSafe” badge on the packaging. This indicates that the accessory has undergone rigorous testing and meets Apple’s standards for compatibility and safety. Because official certification costs money, MagSafe products cost more than Qi ones but make up for that with exclusive perks.

Avoid “MagSafe compatible” chargers. Those are standard Qi chargers with added magnets that haven’t passed Apple’s certification, with slower charging between 5 and 7.5 watts.

Apple specifically built MagSafe for the iPhone 12 series and later, the Apple Watch, and some AirPods models. As a result, MagSafe doesn’t work on Android phones without stick-on adapters or special cases that incorporate magnets.

Thankfully, Apple supports both protocols, so you can safely use your iPhone with a Qi, Qi2, or MagSafe charger. However, iOS limits Qi charging speed to 7.5 watts even if a charger is 15W. No such restrictions exist with Qi2 products and genuine MagSafe chargers.


MagSafe, Qi, and Qi2 rely on an electromagnetic field to transfer energy, losing some of the wireless power to heat in the process. For the most efficient charging, stick to the wire.

Apple agreed to allow the Worldwide Power Consortium to incorporate its Magnetic Power Profile into the latest Qi2 specification. Plus, the company waived the MagSafe certification fee as part of its MFi licensing program. Thanks to these moves, Qi2-certified chargers support magnetic alignment and 15W charging on the iPhone. Qi2 has become Android’s MagSafe!

Using a MagSafe Case with the ESR HaloLock 2-in-1 Wireless Charger with CryoBoost
Hannah Stryker / How-To Geek

Multi-platform households are recommended to get Qi2 chargers for future-proofing and compatibility across the iPhone and future Android phones.


5 MagSafe Perks You’ll Love

MagSafe won me over with its secure magnetic alignment, but little did I know that investing in a MagSafe-compatible charging stand would unlock completely new experiences.

Magnetic Alignment Makes Charging Quick and Easy

The built-in magnets in my iPhone ensure proper alignment each and every time I snap my MagSafe battery pack to the back of my iPhone. This is such a relief versus having to manually line up a Qi charging pad (and re-align it if I need to pick up the phone for a second).

An iPhone held in hand over a wooden desk with a Ugreen MagSafe power bank snapped onto the back.
Christian Zibreg / How-To Geek

Thanks to Apple’s use of strong magnets, I can confidently use MagSafe knowing my iPhone won’t fall off a MagSafe mount or charging stand!

MagSafe + StandBy Mode = The Ultimate Nightstand

Nightstand functionality is one of my favorite MagSafe use cases. iOS automatically activates StandBy Mode when an iPhone charges on a MagSafe stand in landscape orientation.


An iPhone on a nightstand in StandBy Mode
Apple

The feature takes over the iOS user interface with a dedicated fullscreen experience consisting of clocks and information snippets from apps optimized for glancing from a distance. Even better, you can customize the StandBy clock faces, widgets, and accent colors.

Edit which widgets are displayed in StandBy mode

Switch on “Night Mode” in the StandBy settings to use a red-tinted interface at night that won’t disrupt your sleep or blind you if you wake up in the middle of the night.


StandBy mode's ambient red hue

StandBy gave me the perfect excuse to get rid of the smart speaker on my nightstand. I own multiple MagSafe charging stands for my work desk, bedside table, and kitchen counter. Now I’m convinced that everyone needs at least two MagSafe stands, one for home and the other for work.

MagSafe Turns Your iPhone Into a Smart Display

When used throughout the day, StandBy mode turns your iPhone into a smart dashboard that can show any piece of information so long as there’s a widget for it!

An iPhone in StandBy Mode on a MagSafe charging stand sitting on a wooden desk with a keyboard and monitor
Christian Zibreg / How-To Geek

I set up StandBy to show work-related events, reminders, and clocks when docked to my desktop writing station. Apple’s attention to detail is on display here: StandBy remembers your preferences for each place you use MagSafe charging.


For example, StandBy recognizes when I charge my iPhone with MagSafe on my nightstand, triggering saved preferences for that location. My nightstand settings include a Featured Photos widget and a City Digital clock face (I find digital clocks much easier to read when I wake up in the morning or the middle of the night than analog ones).

MagSafe Takes Continuity Camera to the Next Level

Continuity Camera fits MagSafe like a glove. Continuity Camera lets you use an iPhone as a wireless Mac webcam and microphone with zero setup whatsoever.

Using an iPhone as a webcam using Continuity Camera for macOS.
Apple

If your MacBook’s paltry webcam makes you look like a vampire on video calls, Continuity Camera will swap it for the sophisticated iPhone camera in your pocket


The iPhone’s superior image processing pipeline will make you look flattering on video calls even under poor lighting. Continuity Camera also brings AI video effects such as Center Stage, Portrait Mode, background blur, and more, even if your Mac doesn’t support them.

Continuity Camera works well with MagSafe stands, but you might want to consider dedicated MagSafe mounts for the optimal experience.

I’m still in love with my Apple Thunderbolt Display, but its potato camera leaves much to be desired. MagSafe solved my #FirstWorldProblem in one fell swoop. Whenever FaceTiming on my Mac, I snap my iPhone onto Belkin’s MagSafe monitor mount and enjoy crystal clear calls.

An iPhone snapped onto Belkin's MagSafe mount atop a computer display.
Christian Zibreg / How-To Geek


If I want to conduct video calls on the biggest screen in my home, I fire up FaceTime on my Apple TV and put my iPhone on Belkin’s TV mount affixed to the top of my telly.

Apple offers Belkin’s MagSafe mounts for Mac desktops and displays (
$40
), Mac notebooks (
$30
), and TV sets (
$50
).

MagSafe Photography Mounts Beat Clamp Mounts

Instead of messing with clunky smartphone clamp mounts, MagSafe instantly mounts your iPhone on a tripod with a satisfying snap and is just as easy to take off. I don’t want to waste time when shooting photos, especially when switching tripods.

The Joby MagSafe Wallmount secures an iPhone 12 to a mirror, while a MagSafe Mount holds the iPhone 12 on a gimbal with a microphone.
Joby

Having purchased and installed MagSafe mounts on all my tripods, I can snap and unsnap my iPhone without tightening screws or messing with clunky clamps.


MagSafe Charging Costs $20 (or Double if You Buy From Apple)

The MagSafe ecosystem has grown over the years; everyone can find something for their needs without breaking the bank. At the bare minimum, you need a MagSafe charger, but we recommend getting a charging stand to unlock new use cases with StandBy.

A MagSafe phone mount in a car.
Belkin

You can routinely pick up Qi2 charger from Anker or Baseus for as low as $20. Apple’s official charger costs twice this, so shop around and save some money. After familiarizing yourself with all the MagSafe benefits, start expanding your collection with specific accessories to fill needs such as photography, videography, additional power packs, wallets, cycling accessories, navigation mounts, and whatever else you’re into.


Get a proper MagSafe or Qi2 charging stand instead of charging pucks that lie flat and won’t let you use StandBy. You can’t go wrong with trusted brands such as Anker, Baseus, Satechi, ESR, Twelve South, OtterBox, Belkin, Mophie, Scosche, and of course Apple.

Nomad Base One Max vs the Apple MagSafe Duo Charger
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

I’m a minimalist but I’m still not brave enough to rock a naked iPhone. Once I discovered MagSafe cases, there was no turning back, so now every case I use must have a MagSafe ring.

A transparent MagSafe iPhone case held in hand.
Christian Zibreg / How-To Geek

Confirm with the manufacturer if their case supports MagSafe charging. Having to take the case off whenever you put your iPhone on a MagSafe charger gets old fast.


Do you know what’s better than a MagSafe charger? A multi-device MagSafe charging stand! Anyone with an iPhone and an Apple Watch should get a 2-in-1 MagSafe charger.

Photo of a charging stand on a desk, holding an iPhone and Apple Watch with an AirPods case on the bottom
Satechi

If you also own AirPods, do get a 3-in-1 charging stand. You can pick multi-device MagSafe accessories from any brand mentioned above; they all work well.

Be suspicious of cheaper alternatives and check the reviews before buying. I’ve had issues with lesser-known brands ranging from slower charging and overheating to poor reliability and durability.

Though you’ll pay a bit more for a 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 charging stand from a trusted brand like Belkin or Satechi, at least you’ll have peace of mind knowing these companies didn’t cut corners and ruin the user experience in the process.


The Expanding MagSafe Ecosystem

You’d be surprised by the variety in the MagSafe world. Razer built a MagSafe phone cooling fan for long gaming sessions. PopSocket grips attach and detach via MagSafe.

Razer MagSafe fan.
Razer

GripTight photography accessories from Joby, as well as many mobile filmmaker cages, are available in MagSafe and non-MagSafe versions. I personally couldn’t live with my MagSafe charging stands, battery packs, and bike and car dash mounts.



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By John P.

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