MagSafe

Text that reads "MagSafe: Cult of Mac Superguide" with image of MagSafe charger and iPhone.

MagSafe is Apple’s take on magnetic charging. Using a series of magnets, MagSafe enables wireless chargers or compatible cables to magnetically snap to your iPhone or Mac for charging.

MagSafe debuted on the MacBook Pro in 2006. The quick-disconnect magnetic cable was designed to stop laptops from being damaged when a person tripped over the cord. In a controversial move, Apple excluded MagSafe charging from the 12-inch MacBook released in 2015 and removed MagSafe from MacBooks in favor of USB-C in 2016.

Apple revamped MagSafe with the launch of the iPhone 12 in 2020, ushering in a wave of MagSafe-compatible accessories like charging stations and car mounts. Then, the company added a redesigned MagSafe charger to MacBooks with the launch of the revamped M1 Pro/Max models in October 2021.

While you can find MagSafe charging on both iPhones and MacBooks these days, the two systems are incompatible — and quite different. Below is everything you need to know about MagSafe and what makes it special.

Table of contents

What is MagSafe for iPhone?

MagSafe case for iPhone 12

In a nutshell, MagSafe is a series of proprietary magnets located inside your iPhone’s back. They allow compatible MagSafe accessories to snap to the back of your phone magnetically. While wireless charging has been around for years, MagSafe solved a major problem with it.

With Qi wireless charging, you must ensure your phone aligns with the charging pad’s coil for the power transfer to happen wirelessly. If not perfectly aligned, it won’t charge. MagSafe solves this problem by allowing iPhones to automatically align with compatible chargers. It works because of circular magnets placed around the wireless charging coils on both devices: the iPhone and the compatible charger or accessory.

MagSafe is not just limited to wireless chargers, though. You can find plenty of iPhone accessories with MagSafe support, like wallets, pop sockets and car mounts. Thanks to strong magnets, these accessories can easily attach to your iPhone and securely hold it. Once you start using a MagSafe-compatible wireless charger or car mount, there’s no going back. It is a lot more convenient to place and remove your iPhone from a MagSafe accessory than to use traditional options.

Like Apple’s logo, MagSafe has become iconic. Any MagSafe-compatible iPhone accessory has a circular ring in the center. You need to bring the back of your iPhone—where the Apple logo is located—near it, and the two devices will magnetically attach.

MagSafe works through cases, though they must have built-in magnets. This will ensure an effective wireless power transfer and magnetic alignment of the devices. If you use a non-MagSafe case with your iPhone, the charger won’t connect securely.

When using a MagSafe wallet, you must remove all cards from it for a secure connection. A MagSafe charger also can damage the RFID chips on these cards.

Which iPhones support MagSafe?

You get regular wireless charging on 2017’s iPhone X and newer models. But MagSafe support is available on iPhone 12, iPhone 13, iPhone 14 and iPhone 15. On iPhone 11 and older models, you only get Qi wireless charging.

Additionally, you must use a 20W or higher power adapter with PD 3.0 support with the MagSafe charger. Otherwise, the charger won’t deliver the required power, causing your iPhone to charge slowly.

You can use a MagSafe charger with iPhone 11 and older iPhones that support wireless charging. However, the power output is capped at around 5W, so your device will take a long time to charge.

What charging speeds does MagSafe support on iPhones?

MagEasy's MagSafe cases for iPhone 12
Simply add two or more to your cart to bag the discount.

On all compatible non-mini iPhones, MagSafe supports wireless charging speeds of up to 15W. On the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini though, the peak charging speed tops out at 12W.

Apple recommends plugging the MagSafe charger you are using into a power source before placing the iPhone on it. This will ensure your device charges at the maximum charging speed possible. Additionally, you must not connect any Lightning accessory to your iPhone while it is on charge. Doing so will limit the power output to 7.5W for regulatory reasons.

MagSafe vs. Qi wireless charging

With MagSafe, your iPhone will wirelessly charge at up to 15W speed. But with a Qi-compatible charger, your iPhone will top up its battery at 7.5W speeds — 50% slower than MagSafe.

Worse, Qi charging lacks the magnetic alignment you get with MagSafe, so your iPhone won’t magnetically snap to the wireless charger. Apple’s solution is also more energy efficient.

However, MagSafe is so good that the Wireless Power Consortium — founder of the Qi wireless charging standard — used it as a baseline for Qi2.

Are Qi2 and MagSafe the same?

Apple’s MagSafe fuels new Qi2 wireless charging standard
Qi2 is MagSafe for iPhone and Android.

In their current implementations, yes. Qi2 and MagSafe both support 15W wireless charging and magnetic alignment of compatible devices. So, you can buy a Qi2 charger and get the MagSafe benefits with compatible iPhones.

Apple confirmed that iPhone 13 and newer models support Qi2, with iOS 17.2 making the necessary underlying changes.

Does Apple Watch work with MagSafe?

While the Apple Watch charges wirelessly, it does not support MagSafe charging.

Do AirPods work with MagSafe?

As for AirPods, the third-gen AirPods and second-gen AirPods Pro with MagSafe support Apple’s wireless charging standard. So, if you have a MagSafe-compatible charger, you can use it to top up your iPhone and AirPods batteries.

Does iPad work with MagSafe?

Apple’s iPad lineup does not currently support MagSafe wireless charging.

MagSafe accessories for iPhone

Apple MagSafe Charger

Apple sells several MagSafe accessories for iPhones, including a wireless charger and cases with MagSafe support. Third-party accessory makers, such as Spigen, Sosche, Anker and Mophie offer plenty of other options.

You can check out the best MagSafe cases and cables for iPhone 15 to help you get started.

How is MagSafe on MacBook different from iPhone?

2023 15-inch MacBook Air ports
MagSafe 3 on MacBook Air.

All MacBooks launched since 2021 feature Apple’s MagSafe 3 connector, which is different from MagSafe support on iPhones. On MacBooks, MagSafe allows the charging cable to magnetically snap to the charging port; there’s no wireless transfer of power here. This ensures that when the cable is accidentally pulled, it won’t drag your laptop along with it. Instead, the cable will disconnect from the Mac, ensuring the device does not fall in case of an accident.

You also can charge your MacBook using its USB-C port. On the 16-inch MacBook Pro, using the MagSafe 3 port allows the machine to charge at its full speed of 140W. Over USB-C, the laptop is limited to 100W speeds. This is not an issue on smaller models, as they can only pull a maximum of 100W.

MagSafe 3 is not compatible with MagSafe 2 or its previous iterations, which were found on 2015 and older MacBook Pro models.

MagSafe 3 vs. MagSafe 2 vs. MagSafe

Original MagSafe connector
How the original MagSafe connector on MacBook looked.

While all three MagSafe generations might look similar, they are not compatible with each other. MagSafe for Mac debuted on Apple laptops starting in 2006 and was used until 2009. The MagSafe cable came with a power indicator light on both sides, which glowed orange when charging and green when the battery reached a 100% charge.

In 2010, Apple introduced an L-shaped MagSafe connector for MacBooks. It was in use until 2012 before MagSafe 2 debuted. The latter was thinner and lighter than its predecessor, with the outer casing made of aluminum instead of plastic.

MagSafe 2 remained in use until 2014, with Apple retiring it in favor of USB-C for charging starting with its 2015 MacBook.

MagSafe 3 made a comeback in October 2021 with the launch of the M1 Pro/Max MacBook Pro. Unlike the first two MagSafe iterations, MagSafe 3 allows you to remove the power cable from the adapter. The other end uses USB-C, so you are free to use any compatible USB-C power brick to top up your MacBook’s battery.

Read Cult of Mac’s latest posts on MagSafe:

iPhone charger with built-in battery pack looks totally sci-fi

By

The 5,000mAh power bank can be used in the stand or separately.
The 5,000mAh power bank can be used in the stand or separately.
Photo: SwitchEasy

How many times have you rushed out the door with a battery pack for your iPhone, only to discover the battery is dead as a doornail? SwitchEasy’s 2-in-1 Portal solves that. This stylish MagSafe battery pack stand includes a portable power pack that is always charged and ready to go.

And we have a massive discount only for Cult of Mac readers. The Portal regularly costs $119.99, but we are dropping the price to $44.99. That’s more than 60% off, and an offer not found anywhere else. Heck, it’s a good deal just for the 5,000mAh rechargeable MagSafe battery.

With its Bang & Olufsen-inspired styling, Portal is great for your desktop or nightstand. And it ensures you always have portable power ready to go.

Fast-charge iPhone on the go with Pitaka’s new Qi2 car mount

By

Pitaka MagEZ Car Mount Pro 2 Qi2
With 15W of power, Pitaka's new car mount will make quick work of charging MagSafe iPhones on the road.
Photo: Pitaka

On your next road trip, you can get fast charging for your MagSafe iPhone in a sleek design with the new Pitaka MagEZ Car Mount Pro 2 Qi2, the company said Tuesday.

The upgraded charging mount is certified to deliver 15W fast charging and NFC functionality for iPhone and Android handsets. And at 10%, it costs an affordable $54.

Slash up to 47% off MagPower charging stands for iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods

By

SwitchEasy MagPower charging stand with an iPhone in StandBy mode.
The new StandBy mode in iOS 17 really shines with a MagPower charging stand.
Photo: SwitchEasy

If you own an iPhone 12 or newer, you need a MagSafe charging stand. They’re incredibly convenient, and they work great with iOS 17’s handy new StandBy feature, which instantly turns your iPhone into a smart display.

SwitchEasy offers two great wireless magnetic charging stands in the Cult of Mac Store — a powerful 4-in-1 and a compact 2-in-1 — and both feature a night light. And they’ve got something else in common. They’re both on sale in our SwitchEasy Sale.

New Axie 3-in-1 power bank makes global charging a snap [Review] ★★★★☆

By

Journey Axie charger and power bank with international plugs and travel bag★★★★☆
With Journey's Axie, you can keep your gadgets going all over the world.
Photo: David Snow/Cult of Mac

Journey’s new Axie 10,000mAh Global Charger and Power Bank is a handy, MagSafe-compatible 3-in-1 charging device that comes with three extra plugs and a travel case for use worldwide.

It’s designed for international travel. But it’s a great little charger for use at home, too, as a wall charger or as a power bank you can take on the go to keep your iPhone and two other devices juiced.

Get 20% off flexible stand that mounts MagSafe iPhone anywhere

By

Need to stick your iPhone in an unusual place? No problem.
Need to stick your iPhone in an unusual place? No problem.
Photo: SwitchEasy

Some iPhone MagSafe stands are ideal for use at your desk or on your bedside table. Others are car mounts. But what if one mount could go almost anywhere and let you view your handset at any angle? That’s the SwitchEasy Orbit Universal Magnetic Stand.

And all the better, you can get 20% off the portable and flexible stand in the Cult of Mac Store — a savings of $8. The sale ends this Sunday.

His sister works for Apple. Brace for jealousy. [Setups]

By

Mac Studio setup with 5K Studio Display and 4K Samsung monitor
What do you do if one display is 5K resolution and one is 4K resolution?
Photo: scribblesandthoughts@Reddit.com

When someone asked a marketing director in the United Kingdom how much money he makes, the man laughed and said, “Not enough to justify the contents of this picture” of his computer setup.

Hey, we get it. But then we suffered immediate pangs of envy when he went on to say, “My sister works for Apple so got a sick deal on a refurbed [Mac] Studio and new Studio Display.”

Yeah, good for you, pal. No, really. We mean it!

Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs introduces original MacBook Pro

By

The original MacBook Pro brought innovative features (and stirred up a bit of controversy).
The original MacBook Pro brought innovative features (and stirred up a bit of controversy).
Photo: Apple

January 10: Today in Apple history: Steve Jobs introduces the MacBook Pro January 10, 2006: Steve Jobs unveils the original 15-inch MacBook Pro, Apple’s thinnest, fastest and lightest laptop yet.

Building on the previous PowerBook G4 laptop, the new laptop adds dual-core Intel processors for the first time. The MacBook Pro immediately makes waves in the tech community. And did we mention its awesome MagSafe connector?

MagSafe Gravity case protects iPhone 14 with zero added bulk

By

The MagSafe Gravity case is protective yet minimal.
The MagSafe Gravity case is protective yet minimal.
Photo: SwitchEasy

If your iPhone 14 case is a little bulkier than you’d like — maybe a bit tight in the pocket — perhaps it’s time to try SwitchEasy’s MagSafe Gravity iPhone Case.

The incredibly slim case adds zero bulk, works with MagSafe and is available in the Cult of Mac Store for just $25, but is currently on sale for $19.99.

Ingenious new 2-in-1 Butterfly fast-charges iPhone and Apple Watch

By

Twelve South's Butterfly 2-in-1 MagSafe charger in hand
Twelve South's Butterfly 2-in-1 MagSafe charger couldn't be much more portable.
Photo: Twelve South

Twelve South’s new 2-in-1 Butterfly MagSafe Charger folds into a tiny footprint, fast-charges MagSafe iPhones and Apple Watches, and can serve as a kickstand for your handset, as well.

The cool gadget, which you can get directly from Twelve South or Apple, looks like a winner and is priced as such, at a steep $129.95.

Nab any SwitchEasy iPhone 14 case for 20% off

By

What's classier than marble?
What's classier than marble?
Photo: SwitchEasy

Attention iPhone 14 owners: Don’t miss the SwitchEasy sale on all iPhone 14 cases and accessories in the Cult of Mac Store. You can save 20% on any of 10 different cases to protect and dress up your fabulous Apple handset.

The cases cover the bases from tough and functional to highly decorative. There are regular cases as well as MagSafe options. Check out some highlights below. And 20% off saves you about $6 on many of the cases.

How to turn your iPhone into a smart display with StandBy

By

The Smart Display You Already Own
Turn your iPhone into a smart display on your desk.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

StandBy is a headline iOS 17 feature that turns your iPhone into a smart display on your nightstand, at your desk or in the kitchen. It’s an attractive way to put your phone to work as a small information board or digital clock when you’re not using it.

Of course, it works best if you have a phone with an always-on display like the iPhone 14 or 15 Pro. However, it works on any iPhone with MagSafe running iOS 17. Best of all, StandBy remembers different preferences for different rooms, so you can set it up as a bedside clock in the bedroom, a digital photo frame in the living room, or a music controller in the kitchen. Here’s everything you can do with StandBy on your iPhone.

Versatile new 4-in-1 MagSafe charger takes unusual form

By

You can see in the photograph how the MagSafe charging pad for iPhone can sit flush or tilt up.
You can see in the photograph how the MagSafe charging pad for iPhone can sit flush or tilt up.
Photo: Ugreen

The new Ugreen Nexode 100W GaN Charging Station, rolled out Thursday, combines MagSafe charging for iPhone with GaN USB-C charging for other devices in a compact form factor, the company said.

I’ll have an in-depth review of the new charger, which Ugreen said is ideal for home and on-the-go use with the new iPhone 15 and other MagSafe iPhones, on Friday.

Raft of new Anker Qi2 chargers joins MagSafe-for-all parade

By

An upcoming Anker MagGo Qi2 power bank features a display on the side, plus a kickstand.
An upcoming Anker MagGo Qi2 power bank features a display on the side, plus a kickstand.
Photo: Anker

Just ahead of iPhone 15’s release, a squad of Anker charging accessories featuring Qi2 wireless charging — like MagSafe, but for everyone — rolled out at IFA Berlin, the company said Thursday.

New and updated products include MagGo magnetic chargers, power stations and banks with Qi2, plus updated USB-C Nano chargers and more.

The new Qi2 spec is said to work with upcoming iPhone 15 series handsets at 15W of fast-charging power without MagSafe certification.

This clever MagSafe iPhone stand holds a sleek power bank [Review] ★★★★☆

By

Pitaka MagEz Slider 2 review★★★★☆
The Pitaka MagEz Slider 2 is both a MagSafe iPhone stand and MagSafe power bank.
Photo: Adel Neal/Cult of Mac

The Pitaka MagEz Slider 2 combines a desktop stand for your iPhone with a MagSafe power bank, so your handset can get juiced up wherever you go. Just slide the external battery out and take it with you. As a bonus, the swiveling stand also includes an AirPods charger.

It originally launched in 2022, and there’s second-generation version out with an improved design. I put the updated charging stand on my desk to test it out in everyday use. Here’s what I found.

Sleek 4-in-1 iPhone charging stand packs bright bonus [Review] ★★★★☆

By

SwitchEasy MagPower 4-in-1 Magnetic Wireless Charging Stand review★★★★☆
Get rid of cable clutter with the SwitchEasy MagPower multidevice charger.
Photo: Adel Neal/Cult of Mac

The SwitchEasy MagPower 4-in-1 Magnetic Wireless Charging Stand can wirelessly power up a MagSafe iPhone while also juicing up an Apple Watch, AirPods and more. And it even has a nightlight as a bonus.

I’ve had the stand either on my desk or beside my bed for a couple weeks now. Here’s what it’s like in real-world use.

Note: This stand is currently on sale in the Cult of Mac Store’s SwitchEasy flash sale.

New Apple-certified GaN charging station powers up 6 devices at once

By

You might not always have to charge six devices at once, but with this charging station, you can.
You might not always have to charge six devices at once, but with this charging station, you can.
Photo: ESR

ESR just launched a Kickstarter campaign for an unprecedented, Apple-certified 100-watt 6-in-1 charging station with GaN technology to juice up all your devices.

The company called the device — which can charge iPhone, iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch and AirPods simultaneously — the “world’s first” of its kind. You can preorder it now at a 20% discount. And it may serve all your charging needs.

Hit the road with Mophie’s new MagSafe car mount for iPhone

By

Mophie's new wireless charging vent mount with MagSafe works with iPhone 12 series handsets or newer.
Mophie's new wireless charging vent mount with MagSafe works with iPhone 12 series handsets or newer.
Photo: Mophie

If you want to use your iPhone while you drive, it’s best to go hands-free with a mount. Zagg subsidiary Mophie rolled out two choices Monday, a MagSafe-compatible magnetic vent mount and a MagSafe-certified wireless charging vent mount.

“The magnetic and wireless charging vent mounts from mophie are each designed to enhance the driving experience,” said Brad Bell, senior vice president of global marketing at ZAGG. “No matter the use case, mophie helps connected drivers keep their iPhone secure and in line-of-sight.”

Mount iPhone anywhere with new Anker MagGo Grip

By

The Anker 620 MagGo Grip can mount your MagSafe iPhone in many places.
The Anker 620 MagGo Grip can mount your MagSafe iPhone in many places.
Photo: Anker

Anker introduced its new 620 MagGo Grip for iPhone this week, encouraging you to use the magnetic gadget to mount your handset anywhere so you can multitask.

The device is a handheld grip, a wall mount and a stand for MagSafe iPhones all in one. Not bad for a $20 item.

Make mom’s day with Apple’s new gift guide

By

What's good enough for mom? An iPad? An Apple Watch? Both?
What's good enough for mom? An iPad? An Apple Watch? Maybe both.
Photo: Marek Levak@Pexels.com

Apple has shared its annual Mother’s Day gift guide to help you celebrate your mom on May 14 in the United States and many other countries. Dozens of gift ideas, from AirTags to iPhones to various accessories, cover a range of prices from $15 to about $1,000.

And you can “make it mom’s” with free engraving of emojis and messages on a range of gifts, too.

Anker’s newest power bank is a steal right now

By

At just over $22 for a limited time, this power bank is a good deal.
At just over $22 for a limited time, this power bank is a good deal.

Anker unveiled its newest and lowest-priced magnetic power bank Monday. And a 30% off launch discount makes the new 321 MagGo Battery PowerCore 5K an even better deal. See below for details.

Update: This deal has expired. Nevertheless, the power bank is only $31.99, which is a third of the cost of Apple’s own version.