MagSafe® 101 for iPhone Owners

by Jessica Petyo May 09, 2022

MagSafe® 101 for iPhone Owners

If you’re an owner of a newer iPhone model, you may have heard that it’s possible to charge the device wirelessly. Rather than using the standard Lighting® cord, Apple’s MagSafe® wireless charging enables you to use multiple types of stands and phone holders that keep your device in easy view while charging. Whether integrated into a bedside charging stand or windshield phone mount for your car, MagSafe® wireless charging makes powering up your iPhone as simple as attaching two magnets together. But while the technology seems straightforward, there are some important considerations to keep in mind when you want to get the most from it. In this article, we’ll unpack MagSafe® wireless charging for iPhones so you can enjoy hassle-free charging in more places.

When Was MagSafe® Charging Introduced on the iPhone?

While Apple first released wireless charging capabilities for the iPhone in the fall of 2017 on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X based on the Qi wireless charging standard, this early version wasn’t technically MagSafe®. Although earlier iPhone models were equipped with the same wireless charging coil, there weren’t any magnets underneath the surface that provides the strong magnetic connection that makes it so easy to locate the optimal charging position. These older wireless chargers provided little guidance on positioning, which resulted in less efficient charging and far more time to reach full battery capacity.

With the iPhone 12, MagSafe® became a universal name used by Apple for iPhones, Apple Watches, and Macbooks. This can be slightly confusing, because the iPhone and Watch use ‌MagSafe‌® charging pucks, whereas Macbooks use MagSafe‌3® charging ports and cables. The benefit of the latter being a quick and harm-free disconnection ability if the cord gets inadvertently pulled. Although these two ‌MagSafe‌® systems aren't necessarily related, Apple has chosen to use the same terminology across the board for its latest charging systems.

When Apple rolled out ‌MagSafe‌® technology for the ‌iPhone‌, it did so by adding magnets around the Qi-based wireless charging coils, providing a closer fit and faster charging speeds. Another benefit of these built-in magnets is that the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 models can leverage their magnetic rings to connect to accessories with magnets built inside, such as wallets or dash mounts.


Image credit: iFixit

How Does MagSafe® Wireless Charging Work?

To wirelessly charge your iPhone using MagSafe®, all you need to do is place it on a wireless charging pad that's connected to power, and it will begin to charge automatically. You’ll also see a charging icon appear on the screen with the power level to indicate it’s been connected.

Sometimes, the connection will go in and out, as with some iPhone cases. If this happens, you can try taking the case off so the phone’s back sits directly on the wireless charger. With that said, this won’t be an issue if you use MagSafe® specific accessories and chargers.

Also note that you should always plug the MagSafe® charger into a power source before placing your iPhone on the charger. This step enables the technology to verify it's safe to deliver maximum power to the phone. If you place your iPhone on a MagSafe® Charger before plugging it into a power adapter, take your iPhone off the charger, wait three seconds, and then reattach it to establish maximum delivery of power.

Can Phone Cases Affect How MagSafe® Charging Works?

It’s important to note that not all phone cases are MagSafe® compatible. Thicker cases that don’t have a magnetic ring built into them could prevent the charger from making a strong enough connection to charge the phone at the full 15 watts of power. Phone cases from Rokform like the Rugged Case feature a MagSafe® compatible ring that enables full speed charging and a fast, secure connection.

What Type of iPhone Charger Do You Need for MagSafe®?

Compatible chargers from Apple include the 20 watt and 27 watt power adapters, which deliver a maximum of 15 watts when using the MagSafe® charging cord. MagSafe® charging requires a minimum power adapter output of 12 watts and 2.4 amps of power. However, these power adapters will result in slower charging speeds.

Can You Use an Apple Watch Charger for an iPhone?

The Apple Watch MagSafe® charger isn’t large enough or powerful enough to charge the iPhone, and the built-in NFC technology isn’t cross-device compatible, either. The phone charger can’t be used to charge the Apple Watch, either. That said, chargers like Apple’s MagSafe® Duo Charger allow you to charge both devices simultaneously, although only at a maximum of 14 watts when using their 27 watt charging block.

How Many Watts Can the iPhone’s MagSafe® Charging Support?

The MagSafe charger is designed to intelligently adapt to conditions in order to optimize charging at up to 15 watts of power for faster wireless charging than older systems that could only charge at 7.5 watts. 

The actual power delivered does vary depending on the wattage of the power adapter along with system conditions. Also note that for iPhone 13 mini and iPhone 12 mini models, the MagSafe® Charger only delivers up to 12 watts of power.

Is MagSafe® Charging Faster Than Using a Lighting® Cable?

In general, you’ll still get the fastest charge by connecting with the Lighting port and a USB-C charging cord. Also keep in mind that similar to other wireless charger systems, MagSafe® charging can sometimes result in your iPhone getting warmer while it charges. So to maximize the lifespan of the battery, the technology could limit charging to only 80 percent if the battery gets too warm. And, when it comes to iPhones earlier than the 12, charging is limited to only 5 watts with a ‌MagSafe‌® charger, which is slower than using a traditional Qi charger. So if the absolute fastest charge is your goal, you’ll still need to use a regular cable connection.

Mounting Options that Leverage MagSafe® Technology

Rokform’s magnetic phone cases help you securely mount your phone in your car or on any magnetic surface. The Rokform MagSafe® Mounts mount your iPhone using MagSafe® technology while holding your phone to easily navigate down the road. Check out our full lineup of MagSafe® compatible cases and accessories today!

Jessica Petyo
Jessica Petyo


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