When Apple announced the iPhone 12's MagSafe magnetic charging feature, we assumed that a MagSafe version of Apple’s Smart Battery Case would follow closely behind. After all, it immediately seemed like the most obvious use of the new, and arguably best, iPhone 12 feature. Why it wasn’t ready to go when the iPhone 12 lineup became available is unknown, but Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack is here, and at first glance it’s a little underwhelming.
For starters, Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack has a capacity of 1,460 mAh at 7.62V, according to labels on the back of the accessory. The iPhone 12 Mini, 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max have battery capacities of 2,227 mAh, 2,815 mAh, 2,815 mAh, and 3,687 mAh, respectively, at around 3.85V. That’s enough to get a dead 12 Mini back to around 90% capacity, but a dead 12 Pro Max will only recharge to around 55%, and possibly even less than that, given how inefficient wireless charging actually is. (The process produces a lot of heat, which is wasted energy.)
By comparison, the Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless Power Bank, which has been available for months already, packs a 5,000 mAh battery at 3.7V capable of almost entirely recharging the larger iPhone 12 models, while it can get the 12 Pro Max back to about 75% capacity. It also costs just $40, where as Apple’s MagSafe Battery Pack is $99. Yikes.
But Apple’s late-to-the-game solution does come with some benefits that third-party chargers like Anker’s do not. With the upcoming iOS 14.7 update installed, the MagSafe battery’s remaining battery life can be monitored within iOS, the same way the battery life for accessories like AirPods and the Apple Watch are. Apple also promises that its limited 5W charging speeds can be boosted to up to 15W when the battery is connected to a “higher than 20W power adapter,” but that negates the convenience of a wireless battery pack.
The iPhone can also be used to charge the MagSafe Battery Pack while it’s piggybacking by simply plugging the smartphone into a power source, but it will charge slower than if it’s directly tethered to a power source. It’s an interesting feature, but a niche one, and it might not be quite enough to justify $99 when other alternatives can do more for less. We haven’t yet tested the MagSafe Battery Pack, so stay tuned to see if Apple’s pricey new accessory is worth the cost.
Updated 7/13/21 at 3:40 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to properly reflect the MagSafe Battery Pack’s capacity and voltage.