Apple MagSafe Battery Pack review: convenience over capacity

Apple’s new MagSafe Battery Pack is a white rectangle you’ll be able to stick with 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 circumstances.

Nonetheless, anyone contemplating spending $99 on this battery must maintain one vital reality in thoughts: even Apple can’t 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 totally cost up most iPhone 12 fashions could be large. A battery sufficiently small to not look odd on a telephone wouldn’t have sufficient juice. Plus, electrons can solely move so quick with out increase 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 in regards to 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 power to completely cost an iPhone 12 Mini from zero to 100%.

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

I used the iPhone very sporadically throughout the charging interval (largely to report the outcomes each quarter-hour), although I did hearken to a 15-minute podcast over Bluetooth which slowed the charging down a bit.

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

There’s a dialogue to have about what the best technique to speak about battery measurement is. The MagSafe Battery solely has a 1,460mAh battery, however that quantity isn’t similar to different batteries as a result of it may push by means 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 wireless 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, nevertheless it doesn’t change the truth that the MagSafe Battery is just small. It’s meant to be pocketable and simple 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 large 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 gained’t cost your telephone above 90 % — by design. These previous few share factors put numerous stress on batteries, and on this context it’s simply not price it. I feel it’s a wise transfer, however in the event you 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 %.

I do know this sounds each sophisticated and disappointing, however in use it’s truly the other. I’d simply slap the battery on the again of my telephone once I was fearful about battery life and didn’t sweat the small print. The consequence was not needing to regulate battery life as a lot as I often do. It’s elegant as a substitute of highly effective.

That’s all sensible, nevertheless it solely occurs with the iPhone. It’s definitely a nicer general expertise than you’d get with the Anker battery, which is thicker in addition. However the Anker has different benefits. Its battery is larger, 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, nevertheless it’s far more versatile.

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

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. When you have a bigger iPhone, it should sit on the again a bit extra awkwardly — it appears to be like positively tiny on the iPhone 12 Professional Max.

I polled Twitter for questions in regards to the battery and I used to be stunned by the vitriol I noticed in my replies — and elsewhere. It’s straightforward to make enjoyable of how a battery pack appears to be like on the again of a telephone. It’s additionally straightforward to go after it for not offering sufficient cost. Having used it, I’m unsure I’d need it any bigger and I definitely 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 a little bit with grip, however I wouldn’t name it gentle contact. I do marvel 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 feel might be pretty anticipated from one thing linked with magnets. It’d be good if the alignment magnet was a little bit stronger, however I’m glad that my iPhone doesn’t comprise magnets so robust 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. Nonetheless, if you’re 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.

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 connected to it, I feel it makes a little bit extra sense as a product. Apple’s MagSafe puck prices $40 — that definitely doesn’t make the $99 asking value for this battery a deal, nevertheless it may be price shopping for the battery as a substitute of the puck for some individuals.

I do should level out that for $99 I’d have anticipated Apple to no less than embrace a Lightning cable. It doesn’t, nor does it embrace a charging brick.

When plugged into a robust sufficient wall charger, the MagSafe Battery can cost the telephone at as much as 15W, identical to the usual MagSafe disc. The charger can refill each itself and your iPhone. If you wish to prioritize charging pace on the iPhone, you’ll be able to plug it in as a substitute 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’s greatest 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 measurement. Do I want it had extra capacity? After all. I additionally want it might have extra capacity with out getting any bigger than it already is. I don’t begrudge physics and I get why Apple selected the scale it did.

However paying $99 for all of the MagSafe Battery’s class and integration doesn’t make sense when there are less expensive choices which can be 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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