Apple’s had some unfortunate iPhone missteps over the years—3D Touch and the U2 debacle are just a few that come to mind—but MagSafe is shaping up to be one of the most useful upgrades the smartphone has seen in a while. Apple’s new charging technology made possible some pretty great third-party accessories, like Anker’s new magnetic portable charger, which is so simple and convenient it really should be included with every iPhone.
MagSafe may have been pitched as a way to improve wireless charging, ensuring that an iPhone and charging pad are always perfectly aligned for optimal power transfer, but even Apple saw its potential as a better way to attach accessories to the smartphone, including magnetic wallets and cases.
Bloomberg even reported that anonymous sources claimed Apple was working on a magnetic upgrade to its Smart Battery Case, but it’s still nowhere to be seen. Now Anker has beaten Apple to the punch with its new PowerCore Magnetic 5K wireless charger, and as long as you don’t mind sacrificing the pocketability of your iPhone 12, it’s the perfect solution to battery anxiety.
Anker’s PowerCore Magnetic 5K isn’t the first portable wireless charger to hit the market. I’ve reviewed several already, including one from Satechi that can wirelessly charge an iPhone and an Apple Watch at the same time. The lack of wires is convenient, but portable wireless chargers are hard to use on the go given how precisely the charging coils have to be aligned for charging to actually happened. They’re also all kind of beefy, whereas Anker’s new solution is much smaller.
However, just because Anker’s PowerCore Magnetic 5K is the smallest portable wireless charger we’ve tested to date, doesn’t mean it’s small. In reality it adds quite a bit of junk to the iPhone 12's trunk while it’s attached, so don’t expect to effortlessly slip the two into a pocket while they’re magnetically embraced.
On one end of the PowerCore Magnetic 5K you’ll find a power button—the charger won’t automatically start transferring power when connected to an iPhone. You’ll also see a breathing blue LED indicating when a device is charging, and a series of white LEDs indicating its remaining battery level. There’s also a USB-C port which is used to charge the PowerCore Magnetic 5K itself (it can’t be wirelessly charged) and used to charge other devices through a cable connection.
You can also wirelessly charge non-MagSafe iPhones and devices using the PowerCore Magnetic 5K, so Anker has included an illustration on the underside showing exactly where its induction coil is located for proper alignment.
That being said, while testing has found that officially certified MagSafe charging accessories top out at around 15W of wireless power transfer, Anker’s unofficial accessory (you won’t find the term MagSafe mentioned anywhere on Anker’s website) delivers just 5W of power, meaning it’s much slower. So if you’re not slapping it on the back of an iPhone 12 model, you’re probably better off charging other devices with a USB-C cable.
One other thing I’ve discovered when testing MagSafe accessories is that the magnetic connection on the back of the iPhones 12 (I’m using an iPhone 12 Pro) isn’t all that strong. It’s strong enough to stay aligned to a charging pad, but I’m less confident about it being strong enough to prevent heavier accessories from falling off when the two are being carried around. For a stronger connection, I recommend pairing Anker’s PowerCore Magnetic 5K with a MagSafe-compatible case like Moment’s iPhone 12 Thin case or Nomad’s Rugged Folio MagSafe case, for added peace of mind.
If you’re not an iPhone 12 user, you can probably skip the PowerCore Magnetic 5K. Anker’s got cheaper compact portable chargers that boast far more capacity. If you are using one of Apple’s latest and greatest iPhones, for $40 the PowerCore Magnetic 5K is a no-brainer accessory. Even if Apple does release a thinner MagSafe charging solution of its own that offers faster charging times and a more svelte design, it will undoubtedly be considerably more expensive than what Anker’s already got available.