Wednesday, October 14, 2020

MagSafe 2020

Mitchel Broussard:

Apple today announced that the iPhone 12 family is gaining support for MagSafe, which will offer high-powered wireless charging as well as a new ecosystem of accessories that attach to the iPhone 12. Previously, MagSafe was Apple’s brand for the MacBook’s breakaway charging cables.

The company said that MagSafe will improve the charging experience on iPhone 12, with magnets that are optimized for alignment and efficiency, and support 15W of charging.

Alex Guyot:

Apple’s MagSafe accessory lineup starts with the MagSafe charger, a 15-watt Qi-compatible charging puck that magnetically attaches to the back of an iPhone 12 (all iPhone 12 models from the Mini to the Pro Max include MagSafe). There are also a series of new MagSafe cases which magnetically attach in the same way. These cases come in a variety of silicone colors, or in a clear design with a MagSafe circle. The magnetic connection allows the cases to be easily put on and pulled off, while staying attached during use. The case edges no longer have to bend around the front of the iPhone’s display because MagSafe is holding them in place.


Update (2020-10-15): Robert Howard:

The new iPhone MagSafe really isn’t. The whole point of MagSafe on MacBook Pro was that it would easily breakaway and keep your laptop from crashing to the floor. But the new Mag”Safe” is strong enough to hold on a case, become a dashboard mount, etc. More like MagLock…

I think it’s going to be great, though.

Update (2020-10-19): Juli Clover:

We don’t have an iPhone 12 model on hand yet to see the actual difference between the magnetic connection of one of the new models and an existing iPhone , but just based on the marketing materials Apple has released, that magnetic ring in the iPhone is an important factor when it comes to the strength of the connection.

Even using a MagSafe-compatible iPhone 12 case from OtterBox results in a connection that’s not super strong, and it appears that OtterBox, at least, has just stuck a couple of magnets in a little insert in the case to add MagSafe functionality.

Update (2020-10-20): Jeremy Horwitz:

A size comparison of MagSafe for iPhone and the Magnetic Charging Cable for Apple Watch. To answer a common question: MagSafe is a very large puck, but does not have the weight to remain on a flat surface when you lift up the iPhone. It will need to be held down somehow.

Update (2020-10-22): Dieter Bohn:

And now, some unsolicited and frankly random and incomplete thoughts about MagSafe on the iPhone 12 now that I’ve used it.

Update (2020-10-23): Hartley Charlton:

Although Stern found that the MagSafe charger charged the iPhone 12 faster than a traditional 7.5W Qi wireless charger, it was still slower than plugging directly into a 20W charger. The 20W charger charged an empty iPhone to 50% in only 28 minutes, while the MagSafe took 1 hour.

Update (2020-11-07): Dave Mark:

If you bought or are considering a MagSafe charger, read the support article linked below.

One bit:

“Don’t place credit cards, security badges, passports, or key fobs between your iPhone and MagSafe Charger, because this might damage [the mag strips]”

Joe Rossignol:

If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple’s new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today.


My 12 Pro is taking a charge on my Qi chargers but I’m seeing really distracting scanlines whenever it is charging. I feel like I’m looking at my CRT monitor from 2001. My XR and XS max don’t have this problem. I’d bet that the magnets are interfering. Super genius idea to put magnets between electromagnetic coils.

John Gruber:

Matt Birchler captures the incongruity of Apple’s pitch that they don’t need to include chargers in the iPhone box anymore because everyone has so many chargers already, but their new MagSafe charging only works at full capability with the new 20W adapter that no one already has.

Update (2020-11-10): Josh Centers:

Many people feel that the most interesting new technology in the iPhone 12 is the new MagSafe charging and accessory attachment system, but early experiences are revealing some annoying gotchas.

11 Comments RSS · Twitter

Qi charging seems like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Is it really that much harder to plug in a Lightning cable versus snap a Qi puck to the rear of the phone or align your phone in the exact perfect orientation on a non-magsafe Qi? Plus Qi charges slower, too. There's still a wire. What is the point?

Apple does it again, repurposing an old product name as something fresh, while simultaneously hoping that everyone forgets about the demise of its predecessor.

@Ben G Yup, *and* early Qi style chargers had thermal issues with literally cooking batteries. Personally I don’t trust the tech and will just kerp plugging in.

None of this tech is “ready for prime time” IMO.

I want “old MagSafe” back and reading deeper just bummed me out. Apple isn’t selling me anything I want.

Re-posting from my iPhone 12 comment as this belongs here instead:

Magsafe seems like it has a lot of potential. Until now wireless charging seemed to me more inconvenient than plugging in a cable (for example: can't pick up the device to use while it continues charging, have to worry about placement & flat surfaces). Magsafe changes that equation. Not to mention the other handy accessories, like the magnetic Belkin car mount that you can use without a phone case. I do wonder what it means when I inevitably put my phone next to my credit card though.

@Ben G

The point is, iPhone is heading to a "port-less" future. There wont be USB-C Or Lightning.

And the best part, you can use that Wireless Charging while using your phone. It might seems wrong but it solved all problem in one go.

Worse still "wireless" inductive charging is way more wasteful of energy than plugging in a cable (tests suggest anywhere between 40-80% less efficient than a cable.)

With all Apple's declared focus on its environmental impact, it seems crazy to steer 100s of millions of people to waste energy for minimal improved convenience.

Apple is now where my Palm Pre was ten years ago. I have no idea why they didn't include magnets from the start to help charge the device.

Efficiency really isn’t much of an issue, because phones are so efficient themselves that they need a negligible amount of energy.

Even doubling it through inefficient charging means the daily wasted power is just about as much as that of a single Hue bulb (while it’s off!).

>The point is, iPhone is heading to a "port-less" future. There wont be USB-C Or Lightning.

If they do that, I'm done with iOS (which means I'm 100% done with Apple, as I already switched to PC several weeks ago after 30 years Mac-only). I depend on wired connections for MIDI and Audio I/O. Hopefully Apple isn't idiotic enough to tell the entire Pro Audio iOS market to go f--- itself.

It sucks to see Apple becoming more like an American Sony focused on bland consumer products than the company that Steve Jobs brought back to life from 1997-2011. The innovation on the Mac from 2001 to 2010 was massively more interesting and exciting and inclusive than the past 9 years. They focus more on the consumer side of things now than the creator side, selling services to consumers rather than innovative and useful Macs that fully meet the needs of the people who *create* professional video and music.

It's like, how could you make the Mac worse if you tried? Somehow, Apple figured it out -- take away useful ports, take away MacSafe, take away function keys, give it a terrible keyboard, lock down OS X, piss off developers, don't fully support all the stuff that the sci-tech community needs for AI and other types of computationally complex research, and cede the entire education market to Google. Well in the past 10 years the world has moved on while Apple ignored the desktop market and ignored professional users and tech hobbyists. I've seen more comments in various corners of the internet in the past year from people like me who have used the Mac for 20+ years and switched to PC, than I've seen since the mid-late 90s when Apple was circling the drain prior to SJ's return.


Even a small amount of wasted energy multiplied by 100s of millions of devices from now until who knows when is far from insignificant IMO

Efficiency really isn’t much of an issue, because phones are so efficient themselves that they need a negligible amount of energy.

ATP occasionally gives me this strange “who cares about energy” vibe as well, and I can only surmise that electricity is just way too cheap in the US, and that the environment isn’t being taught about enough in schools. (We literally learnt about it in elementary in the 1990s: avoid taking a bath because it wastes much more water than a shower; don’t leave things running because it wastes electricity; etc.)

Even doubling it through inefficient charging means the daily wasted power is just about as much as that of a single Hue bulb (while it’s off!).

A Hue bulb draws 30W while off? I don’t follow what you’re saying here.

It sucks to see Apple becoming more like an American Sony focused on bland consumer products than the company that Steve Jobs brought back to life from 1997-2011.

That range of years includes 2001 through 2006, the height of the iPod popularity, which in a way was Steve Jobs wanting to be like Sony.

Plus, there’s this story.

Now, sure, Apple also doubled down on the pro market (such as by buying up/merging/rebranding/creating apps like Final Cut Pro, DVD Studio Pro, Aperture, Logic, etc.). By all accounts, those were never particularly in Steve’s wheelhouse. They were a necessary/important part to get Mac OS X rolling. By the time Aperture shipped, Mac OS X had proven itself, and other businesses had succeeded well beyond expectations (iPod!), and Apple’s heart was no longer quite in pro apps to the same extent.

So, I don’t understand your attempt to pin that on Steve being gone.

Which is not to say I don’t miss that era. “Let’s put some money into building fantastic pro apps” is much easier said than done, and the folks who made it happen — in part by acquiring just the right set of companies, such as Emagic, but also in part through sheer expertise in UI design and engineering — performed quite well. If it were that simple, Microsoft would’ve done the same for the ill-fated Windows 8 vision, or Be would’ve done it, or IBM for OS/2, etc.

I would also posit that, right now, Apple isn’t doing quite enough to make the Mac (or the iPad Pro) a home for pros. Gone are the days of “Sends other UNIX boxes to /dev/null.” ads. I think Apple would do well to bring those back, regardless of how much it actually cares: if the pros leave, it’s a canary in the coal mine for others to leave soon.

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