Apple’s iPhone 12 MagSafe technology not only makes charging easier, it also enables functional accessories that can be snapped magnetically to the smartphones without using a case. The most anticipated of these is a portable charger, and it looks like Anker’s going to get one out the door before Apple does.
A few days ago, Bloomberg cited anonymous sources in a report that claimed Apple had been working on an upgrade to its Smart Battery Cases that does away with the case altogether. Instead, it securely attaches directly to the back of an iPhone 12 using the MagSafe magnets, while delivering a charge using wireless induction technology.
Why it’s taken so long to realize an accessory that seemed like an obvious thing to release alongside the new iPhone 12 line when it was first revealed last year is unknown, but Apple does have a history with being overly cautious with power-related accessories—see power adapter recalls, battery replacements in smartphones and laptops, and more recently altogether cancelling the multi-device AirPower charging mat it had previously announced at an event.
Whatever the reasons are for Apple not having a MagSafe battery already available could be moot, because starting on March 3, Anker will start shipping its own. The Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless Power Bank features a 5,000 mAh battery, and while that’s larger than the batteries in the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and even the iPhone 12 Pro Max, wireless charging isn’t as efficient as charging with a cord is. As a result, Anker claims its new magnetic power bank can only charge the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max to 95%, 97%, and 75% of their maximum capacities, respectively. It can, however, completely recharge a dead iPhone 12 mini, with some power to spare.
The Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless Power Bank can only be charged using a USB-C cable. It doesn’t look like you can plop it down on a wireless charging pad to top it off, and because it’s not an officially certified MagSafe accessory (it’s only listed as MagSafe-compatible) that can potentially charge at speeds of up to 15 watts, Anker’s magnetic power bank is limited to 7.5 watts. It’s a minor drawback, but a drawback nonetheless.
If Apple does release its own MagSafe battery pack, it will undoubtedly support the fastest MagSafe charging speeds, but as with all of Apple’s accessories, it probably won’t be cheap. Despite the limited charging speed (roughly equivalent to the charging speed of the tiny power adapters Apple used to include with its phones) the Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless Power Bank will be available for just $40 when it ships next week. That might be the most compelling reason not to wait for Apple.