Apple MagSafe Battery Pack evaluation: comfort over capability

Patrick

Apple’s new MagSafe Battery Pack is a white rectangle you’ll be able to follow the again of an iPhone 12 to cost it. It’s Apple’s third run at designing an exterior battery answer for the iPhone and I prefer it higher than the sooner battery instances.

Nevertheless, anyone contemplating spending $99 on this battery should preserve one vital truth in thoughts: even Apple can not break the legal guidelines of physics. It’s simply as certain by the identical guidelines of magnetism and electrons as everyone else.

These legal guidelines require tradeoffs: A battery that would absolutely cost up most iPhone 12 fashions can be massive. A battery sufficiently small to not look odd on a telephone wouldn’t have sufficient juice. Plus, electrons can solely circulation so quick with out build up warmth and degrading the battery.

Apple discovered a stability between all these extremes and it maintains that stability with a good software program integration that aggressively manages how this battery prices your telephone. The result’s a gadget that’s singularly centered on the iPhone — generally to its personal detriment.

The perfect half concerning the MagSafe Battery is that it additionally serves as a fast-charging wi-fi MagSafe puck when it’s plugged in. So the large query is whether or not all that is sufficient to justify the value, particularly in comparison with the competitors.

The MagSafe Battery doesn’t have sufficient vitality to totally cost an iPhone 12 Mini from zero to 100%.

In my testing, the MagSafe Battery was absolutely drained when my iPhone 12 Mini reached 83 %, which took 130 minutes of charging. I didn’t have it plugged in for this check, which meant it charged at a comparatively pokey 5W velocity, in order to reduce warmth and maximize the battery’s longevity.

I used the iPhone very sporadically in the course of the charging interval (largely to document the outcomes each quarter-hour), although I did take heed to a 15-minute podcast over Bluetooth which slowed the charging down a bit.

Backside line: it’s a small battery and it’ll assist you prime up your iPhone, not absolutely cost it. On bigger iPhone 12 fashions, it received’t even hit that 83 %.

The screen that appears when you attach the MagSafe Battery

The display that seems while you connect the MagSafe Battery.

The MagSafe Battery Pack on an iPhone 12 Pro Max

The MagSafe Battery Pack on an iPhone 12 Professional Max.

There’s a dialogue to have about what the correct approach to speak about battery dimension is. The MagSafe Battery solely has a 1,460mAh battery, however that quantity isn’t akin to different batteries as a result of it may push by way of extra volts (7.62V). So the MagSafe Battery’s rated 11.13Wh (Watt-hours) is the quantity that truly issues. In the meantime, Anker makes a 5,000mAh battery with wi-fi charging and magnets for underneath $50. It’s rated at 18.5Wh, so the variations are smaller than they first seem.

The battery measurement dialogue is attention-grabbing, however it doesn’t change the truth that the MagSafe Battery is solely small. It’s meant to be pocketable and straightforward to hold, and so you need to consider it as one thing that may stretch your battery life just a bit — not get you thru a number of days away from a charger.

As you would possibly count on, the software program expertise with the MagSafe Battery is tightly built-in into the iPhone. There are massive animations that present the cost of each your telephone and the battery while you connect it. It exhibits up on the battery stage widget, too.

Extra apparently, while you first connect the battery, your iPhone will pop up a discover that this battery received’t cost your telephone above 90 % — by design. These previous few proportion factors put lots of stress on batteries, and on this context it’s simply not value it. I believe it’s a sensible transfer, however if you happen to completely need that final 10 %, you’ll be able to lengthy press the battery icon within the Management Middle and inform it to cost previous 90 %.

An Anker battery next to the MagSafe Battery

An Anker battery subsequent to the MagSafe Battery.

The Anker battery is a bit larger, but it also has a larger battery inside.

The Anker battery is a bit bigger, however it additionally has a bigger battery inside.

I do know this sounds each difficult and disappointing, however in use it’s really the alternative. I might simply slap the battery on the again of my telephone after I was nervous about battery life and didn’t sweat the small print. The end result was not needing to control battery life as a lot as I normally do. It’s elegant as an alternative of highly effective.

That’s all sensible, however it solely occurs with the iPhone. It’s actually a nicer general expertise than you’d get with the Anker battery, which is thicker besides. However the Anker has different benefits. Its battery is greater, for one factor. It additionally has a USB-C port on it that each takes cost when plugged in and can be utilized to cost units through a wire. It’s much less elegant for iPhone customers, however it’s far more versatile.

The Lightning port on the underside of the MagSafe Battery means iPhone customers can preserve utilizing the identical charging cable, so it’s in all probability the correct name to maintain it. It’s simply too dangerous that Lightning can’t cost in both course like a USB-C port can.

The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack nearly perfectly fits the iPhone 12 Mini

The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack practically completely matches the iPhone 12 Mini.

The MagSafe Battery is designed to match the size of the iPhone 12 Mini completely. It aligns precisely to the perimeters and is extra comfy to carry than I anticipated. You probably have a bigger iPhone, it should sit on the again a bit extra awkwardly — it seems positively tiny on the iPhone 12 Professional Max.

The MagSafe Battery Pack looks a little funny on an iPhone 12 Pro Max

The MagSafe Battery Pack seems just a little humorous on an iPhone 12 Professional Max.

I polled Twitter for questions concerning the battery and I used to be shocked by the vitriol I noticed in my replies — and elsewhere. It’s simple to make enjoyable of how a battery pack seems on the again of a telephone. It’s additionally simple to go after it for not offering sufficient cost. Having used it, I’m undecided I’d need it any bigger and I actually wouldn’t need it any smaller. To me, there’s no such factor as a handsome exterior battery. On the finish of the day, they’re all squarish or rectangular hunks of plastic or steel.

The white plastic has a matte end that helps just a little with grip, however I wouldn’t name it smooth contact. I do surprise if it’ll decide up stains from blue denims over time, however within the few days I’ve been testing it, it’s remained clear.

It snaps on the again of a caseless iPhone with a satisfying snick. It’s as safe as I believe could be pretty anticipated from one thing related with magnets. It’d be good if the alignment magnet was just a little stronger, however I’m glad that my iPhone doesn’t include magnets so sturdy that it messes with bank cards. Physics!

You’ll be able to deliberately shake off the battery or have it slip off when placing it in your pocket, however I didn’t have these issues. Nevertheless, in case you are planning on utilizing it with a case, you completely want a MagSafe suitable case that itself has magnets on it. I take advantage of a really skinny plastic case and that minimal layer was greater than sufficient to cease the magnets from working successfully.

The MagSafe Battery Pack shows how much charge it has left in an iPhone widget

The MagSafe Battery Pack exhibits how a lot cost it has left in an iPhone widget.

After two days testing a pair totally different MagSafe Batteries on each an iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Professional Max, I got here to a stunning conclusion. My favourite half isn’t the battery, it’s the MagSafe charger.

After I consider the MagSafe Battery as a MagSafe charging puck that simply occurs to have a battery hooked up to it, I believe it makes just a little extra sense as a product. Apple’s MagSafe puck prices $40 — that actually doesn’t make the $99 asking value for this battery a deal, however it is likely to be value shopping for the battery as an alternative of the puck for some folks.

I do need to level out that for $99 I might have anticipated Apple to not less than embody a Lightning cable. It doesn’t, nor does it embody a charging brick.

When plugged into a strong sufficient wall charger, the MagSafe Battery can cost the telephone at as much as 15W, similar to the usual MagSafe disc. The charger can replenish each itself and your iPhone. If you wish to prioritize charging velocity on the iPhone, you’ll be able to plug it in as an alternative after which the iPhone will use reverse wi-fi charging to prime up the battery. (Sadly and in contrast to Android telephones, the iPhone’s reverse wi-fi charging doesn’t work for different units, like AirPods.)

The MagSafe Battery Pack can also wirelessly charge AirPods

The MagSafe Battery Pack also can wirelessly cost AirPods.

The MagSafe Battery’s finest characteristic is that it’s a good MagSafe wi-fi charger. It’s additionally an honest battery — however provided that you consider it as a small extender, one which trades longevity for dimension. Do I want it had extra capability? In fact. I additionally want it may have extra capability with out getting any bigger than it already is. I don’t begrudge physics and I get why Apple selected the dimensions it did.

However paying $99 for all of the MagSafe Battery’s magnificence and integration doesn’t make sense when there are less expensive choices which are much less beholden to working with only one telephone. A battery pack goes to look foolish it doesn’t matter what, you would possibly as effectively get one which’s as versatile as potential.


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