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We test the MagSafe battery for the iPhone 12: a great idea that fails in its main function

Apple has finally released its external battery compatible with MagSafe, an accessory that promises to charge any iPhone 12 model comfortably when we are away from home. The so-called MagSafe battery is beautiful, convenient and maintains the details so characteristic of Apple at the software level. But does it fulfill its main purpose? Apple’s external batteries present in previous iPhone models, as you may remember, were attached to the terminal by means of a case, a system that allowed to hold the device comfortably, without the need to have a cable between battery and smartphone, but that limited the use of other covers or cases and considerably increased the thickness of the whole. Now, thanks to MagSafe, the external battery can be easily attached to the back, without the need for intermediaries or cases. MagSafe technology, as you may recall, uses magnets to attach and align accessories, such as cases or wallets, to the back of the phone. The magnetic system, moreover, surrounds the wireless charging coil, so it is also possible to attach accessories capable of supplying power to the iPhone, as is the case with this external battery. The MagSafe battery is constructed of polycarbonate, but does not have that rubbery finish so characteristic of the Silicon Case, although in images or at first glance it may seem so. When holding it, it feels sturdy and resistant. During the first days it may seem heavy -about 115 grams more than the weight of the iPhone model-, but over time it is easy to get used to that extra weight. The matte finish, moreover, prevents marks from appearing easily, something that doesn’t happen with the AirPods Pro case, for example, which has a glossy finish. The inner part, which attaches to the back, does have a rubbery feel that prevents scratching the back glass with rubbing. The coupling is extremely simple: put the two parts together and that’s it. On the iPhone, the battery is held firmly and the whole thing is comfortable in the hand. It even withstands light shaking and does not slip when put in a pocket. The MagSafe Battery Pack, however, seems to grip better when attached to a case compatible with Apple’s magnetic system.

0 to 50 in an eternity

The MagSafe battery pack has two 1460 mAh cells, totaling 2930 mAh, and delivers a maximum power of 5W. According to the data, the accessory is capable of recharging an iPhone 12 mini to 91%, an iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro to 72% and an iPhone 12 Pro Max to 55%. In any case, Apple stresses that the accessory only charges up to 90% of the battery. In my tests, with an iPhone 12 Pro Max, the external battery has even charged 50% of the device. It has done so in approximately two hours. The battery level of the iPhone, however, hardly changes if the terminal is in use. That is, if we are using the device with 30% battery, connect the MagSafe charger and continue using it, the battery percentage will barely increase one or two points. Why? Because the charging speed is so slow that it does not exceed the energy consumption of the phone itself while it is in use. Moreover, the low efficiency of wireless charging prevents the battery from transmitting all the energy it stores to the device, as a percentage is lost in the process. A practical solution would be to provide the external battery with more amperage (to compensate for the loss in the process) or simply go for another more efficient charging system.

Apple does not forget the details

Apple has wanted to keep those little details that differentiate it so much. The battery presents an animation and vibration every time it is coupled to the iPhone and it is possible to see the battery level of the accessory from the widgets of the iPhone. To be able to enjoy these details it is necessary to have a version of iOS 14.7 or later. The beta of iOS 15, for the moment, does not include the animations, although it does allow you to charge the iPhone. The company also allows you to use the battery as a wireless charger. To do this, it is only necessary to connect the Lightning cable to the battery and attach the iPhone to the back so that it charges at 15W. Provided, of course, that the accessory is connected to a 20W adapter. On the other hand, the iPhone can also supply power to the MagSafe battery -what we know as reversible charging-. This is an extremely useful function when, for example, we want to leave everything ready before leaving for a morning excursion. Apple will first charge the iPhone to 80%, when it reaches that level, the MagSafe battery will start charging. In the morning, both devices will be fully charged. The MagSafe battery includes Qi technology, so it is also possible to charge other accessories, such as the AirPods Pro. However, it is not as practical as charging an iPhone.

Is the MagSafe battery worth it?

The MagSafe battery, while a great idea, is not for everyone. Nor is it for all devices. Unfortunately, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is not a model that squeezes all its capabilities, especially considering that it only charges 50%, while the iPhone 12 mini manages to charge about 90%. Charging, moreover, is excessively slow, although it is an accessory designed to be always attached to the back of the device. The MagSafe has some positive points that are also worth mentioning. One of them is the possibility to use the battery as a wireless charger, or the possibility to charge both devices with the same cable. MagSafe is also much more convenient than other external chargers, both in terms of functionality, with the magnet system, and in terms of thickness. If you are looking for an accessory to charge your iPhone away from home, there are more attractive options for a lower price, such as the Power Bank from Anker, which offer a higher charge. On the other hand, if you feel you can enjoy the full functionality of the Apple battery and prefer convenience over speed, the MagSafe Battery Pack may be a useful option to extend your iPhone’s battery life throughout the day.

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