It had been a long time since I’d used an iPhone but recently a spent a few weeks with the newest iPhone, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and overall was impressed with it. In the end though it didn’t offer anything extra on top of the ultra-premium Android experience.
There was a great camera, amazingly good battery life and decent apps along with some user experience improvements but one improvement – MagSafe. Who would have thought a few little magnets in the back of a phone would be my main take away from my whole iPhone experience.
So, what is MagSafe?
MagSafe originated as a safety feature for MacBook charging cables but when the iPhone 12 arrived MagSafe was incorporated into its physical build. Its inclusion opened a veritable Pandora’s box for new and innovative accessories.
For the iPhone, MagSafe is a series of magnets around the Qi charging coil on the back cover of the phone. These magnets, being outside the charging coils, do not negatively affect the charging speed of the iPhone and help to align the phone on supporting chargers.
The MagSafe magnets can be used to connect all sorts of accessories to the back of your iPhone, from a wireless charger (so it lands in the perfect position each and every time), to a portable battery or even a card wallet.
This ability to have it sit magnetically on a charger while at the same time charge the phone is something that falls right into my use case – I spend a lot of time in my car each and every day at work. Thus I was super interested in it.
Apple have of course added a small incentive for accessory manufacturers to get official the “Made for MagSafe” tick from Apple – faster wireless charging. Now the iPhone wirelessly charges extremely slowly when compared to other brands – OPPO can wirelessly charge their Find X5 Pro at 50W. Apple’s default is 7.5W – welcome to 2010, unless you have the Made for MagSafe badge, which will double your maximum wireless charging speed up to 15W.
“MagSafe compatible” products do not offer this bump in charging speeds though. Although 15W is not great and lower than most Android brands, it is still not 7.5W. I’d say rather than Apple bumping charging speeds, I’d say they are limiting speeds for non-approved charging products – which is not entirely a bad thing as charger quality can be the wild wild west sometimes.
Before I say that Apple are bad for doing this – Google do it too with their wireless charger and the supported Pixel smartphones. This way though you will at least get a wireless charger that won’t destroy your battery or blow up your phone – both a bad thing.
In the end, MagSafe offers faster, more accurate charging but more importantly for me, a great way to easily attach it to a wireless charger and still charge it at the same time. Now if only I could apply it to any Android phone. Guess what you can! Read on.
MagSafe for all
There are a raft of different metallic rings that you can buy to add MagSafe to your smartphone but unfortunately, not all metallic rings are created equal. At first I figured it would be safe not to buy some cheap Aliexpress/eBay brand but instead head in to JB Hi-Fi and pic up a Cygnett-branded metallic ring.
While there I also grabbed myself a MagSafe compatible wireless charger for the car – a decent brand – well, the price suggests it’s a decent brand and surely JB Hi-Fi wouldn’t sell junk?
I stuck the ring (just a ring, no alignment magnet) to the outside of my Pixel 7 Pro case and although it stuck the phone to the wireless charger in the car, any sudden movements and it would fall off the wireless charger all too easily. Not only that but no matter where I positioned the ring on the back of the phone case it would NOT wirelessly charge.
I stuck the same ring to the back of the case for my OPPO Find X5 Pro – same deal. The attachment to the charger (along with the wireless charger from Apple) wasn’t great and also it would not actually charge with the ring in any position at all on the back.
Luckily there is a more expensive option from Spigen. At $34 on eBay it was an expensive risk but it arrived shortly thereafter and not only was the packaging premium but the ring had the alignment stalk as well, signalling a better product it seems. And it was. I was able to position the ring on the back of my OPPO phone case which allowed for magnetic attachment AND wireless charging.
The magnetic attachment is nearly as solid as that when attaching an iPhone with it yet to fall off, even with bumping it. The location of the ring (or maybe the metal the Spigen ring is made of) resulted in the OPPO Find X5 Pro being able to charge on any and all wireless chargers I own.
Of course, this solution does not have to be for Android smartphones only. You can use it for older iPhones that do not include the metallic ring in its hardware and still get the benefits of MagSafe.
If you wish, you can buy aftermarket cases with built in MagSafe-compatible rear covers — I was able to purchase one for my Pixel 7 Pro — but it didn’t offer anywhere near as much magnetic attraction as the ring from Spigen did. The case was marginally better than the cheap ring but not ideal.
Where to from here?
Although we expect Apple to continue using MagSafe going forwards but what about everyone else? Motorola tried something similar a long time ago with the Moto Z and modular accessories so Apple are hardly the first to try it but Motorola failed miserably due to a lack of support so no one remembers that. Now that Apple has created a massive market for these magnetic accessories it will be interesting to see if any Android manufacturers try to include something similar – you can bet that Apple will have their lawyers at the ready.
MagSafe is a great innovation from Apple and if you have an iPhone and do not take advantage of it, I can only say that you are missing out. If you have an Android phone you too can enjoy some MagSafe-esque accessories.
I’m definitely going to continue to use these accessories myself, whether it be with an iPhone or with an Android phone via the metallic ring from Spigen. They are a great idea with zero negatives.