Apple’s latest iPhone accessory is both an obvious addition but also a little late to the party. Beautifully designed and yet constrained in terms of some of its functionality. Let’s dive in!
It feels reassuringly weighty in your hand but not overly so. The build quality as you’d expect from Apple is top-notch and in a much slimmer form factor than third party alternatives. Sporting a soft-touch matte finish, the battery pack resembles one of Apple’s silicone cases for iPhone. However, the product is made of a coated plastic. The rear of the battery case by contrast features a silky rubber lining with cutouts for the magnetic contact points.
Speaking of magnets, the accessory attaches to your iPhone 12 using the same MagSafe technology as other iPhone 12 series accessories. Apple’s range of cases and leather wallets all connect to the back of the iPhone in the same way. It’s also possible to attach the MagSafe battery pack to an iPhone inside a MagSafe case. Technically you can still attach the battery to a non-MagSafe case but the connection may not be strong enough to be reliable. In my experience, while using the battery attached directly to the iPhone or a MagSafe case, the connection was rock solid.
The accessory is only available in white at the moment. Apple’s classic colour choice might not be for everyone but as it stands it’s your only choice. Although various covers and skins are already starting to make an appearance.
One important point to note as with all other MagSafe charging accessories, the battery may leave an imprint on leather cases. If you use a leather case you might want to remove it before use if that concerns you. Or as I have, use a case made of any other material except leather.
Capacity and Wireless Charging
As you’d expect the primary functionality of the accessory is to provide additional and on the go power to your iPhone. And yet it offers a couple of additional benefits which I’ll get into momentarily. But first of all, let us talk about capacity and how that translates in terms of how much it can charge up your device.
The battery is a 1,460mAh battery. That sounds pretty small but it isn’t the full story. Crucially the voltage of the battery is 7.62V compared to the 3.81V batteries found inside the various iPhone 12 models. So to work out the actual capacity we need to multiple the amps by the voltage.
1,460 * 7.62 = 2,920mAh in total.
2,920mAh is about enough to fully charge an iPhone 12 mini, 12, or 12 Pro. And around 80% charge for the iPhone 12 Pro Max
But that still isn’t quite the full story. Because while the capacity is much higher than the spec sheet would imply, it doesn’t translate into an effective charge of 2,920mAH when connected to your iPhone. The reason for that is due to the inefficiency of wireless charging. Most wireless chargers are around 50% efficient. That means around half of the power is lost to heat. This is mitigated to some by Apple’s excellent crystalline shielding built into their MagSafe design but it doesn’t go anywhere near enough to offer even close to the efficiency of wired charging.
In my testing with an iPhone 12 Pro Max (the phone with the highest battery capacity), I was able to get a consistent 56% charge from the MagSafe battery. That isn’t by any means groundbreaking but is certainly enough to give a healthy boost. For smaller capacity devices such as an iPhone 12 or 12 mini, you can expect around 70-80% charge.
The final thing to say about capacity and charging via the MagSafe battery is that it works in tandem with iOS’s ‘optimised charging’ feature. If you have it enabled, you’ll get notifications on the lock screen of your iPhone to say when it will be fully charged. And if you want to be charged sooner you can touch and hold the notification and tap ‘charge now’.
As with Apple’s previous battery cases for iPhone, the MagSafe battery pack is beautifully integrated into iOS. You’ll be able to see the charging status of the built-in battery of course but if you have the battery widget set up in iOS 14.7 or later, you can see the individual battery status for both the iPhone and the MagSafe battery pack. When you attach the battery while the phone is locked, the display automatically lights up with the MagSafe animation and you’ll see the battery status of the MagSafe battery and your iPhone. It’s a nice touch.
The battery itself can be charged via lightning. But what you may not know is you can also charge the battery wirelessly via reverse wireless charging from your iPhone. Yep. Apple has finally enabled the wireless charging functionality of the iPhone 12 that it was long rumoured to have. When you connect a lightning cable to your iPhone 12 and then attach the battery, the battery is charged via the iPhone. This is a great option but it’s very slow. I’d also also add not to get too excited. Reverse wireless charging is strictly limited to this scenario and doesn’t enable you to reverse wireless charge other devices using your iPhone. The MagSafe battery also includes a charge management feature to maintain battery health for times when it is connected to your iPhone for prolonged periods of time.
Much more useful than reverse wireless charging however is the ability to plug in a lightning connector directly to the battery and then attach your iPhone. This equates to a makeshift MagSafe wireless charger for your iPhone. Ideal for travel and I’m really happy to say that this is much quicker. I can see this being a really useful option for me moving forward.
Should you buy it?
At £99/$99 the MagSafe battery isn’t cheap. And there are third party batteries available that attach via MagSafe with higher capacity and with a much lower price tag. But the tight integration with iOS with widgets, the exclusive reverse wireless charging functionality, support for optimised charging and a more attractive, slimmer design might just be enough to make it worth it for you.