Apple resurrects MagSafe as snap-on iPhone accessory system

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How it works
What's old is new again.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s beloved MagSafe branding made its return at Tuesday’s “Hi, Speed” Apple event. And, if it’s not quite like it was before, isn’t that the same as every single story about something being brought back from the beyond?

The new, different version of MagSafe will allow users to snap on accessories to the back of their iPhones. Think wallets, cases and — in a new move for Apple — its first official wireless charging pads for iPhone.

Announced at Tuesday’s event, the new MagSafe Charger juices up an iPhone, while the MagSafe Duo can also support Apple Watch. They both provide up to 15 watts of power, double the current max for iPhones, for faster charging.

Apple’s only previous charging pad is the Magnetic Charging Dock for Apple Watch, released in 2015. However, the company’s most infamous charger was an advanced pad it announced but didn’t produce. Back in 2017, Apple showed off its AirPower wireless charger. It was supposed to ship in 2018, but Apple wound up canceling the project in early 2019 after running into one too many technical difficulties. This is one of the only times in Apple history that this has happened.

The wireless charger Apple showed off today definitely seems less ambitious than the AirPower charging pad. Rather than being able to charge up to three devices simultaneously, it can charge up to two in the case of the MagSafe Duo Charger. Apple said Belkin is also working on its own third-party chargers.

Apple's new MagSafe Duo Charger makes up for the sins of AirPower.
Making up for the sins of AirPower.
Photo: Apple

It’s all about MagSafe for iPhone

Apple’s resurrection of MagSafe was one of the most pleasant surprises of today’s event. Apple introduced its MagSafe magnetic power cord for MacBooks in 2006, replacing the previous coaxial power connector.

One of Apple’s most satisfying inventions, the MagSafe power connector employed magnets to hold a MacBook’s power cord in place. If a person tripped over the cord, the connector would disengage without pulling the computer off whatever it was sitting on. Apple ditched MagSafe in 2016, replacing it with USB-C for newer MacBooks.

Apple resurrected the name and concept at Tuesday’s event, albeit in the modified form of MagSafe for iPhone 12. With magnets incorporated into the body of the new iPhones, accessories can easily snap into place on the smartphones’ backs.

In the case of the MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Duo Charger, this will ensure that your iPhone is properly aligned when you put it on to charge. But, as Apple showed off today, it also opens up a whole new potential ecosystem of non-charging accessories. We’re excited to see what Apple (and others) can come up with.

The first MagSafe for iPhone accessories are already in the Apple Store.