Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Battery Pack
The new MagSafe Battery Pack that Apple debuted this week is arriving to customers starting today and it's also now available for in-store pickup in many Apple retail locations around the world. We snagged one this morning and thought we'd take a look at it to let MacRumors readers know if it's worth the $99 asking price.
As the name suggests, the MagSafe Battery Pack is designed to attach magnetically to the back of an iPhone 12 model. It's sized to take up much of the entire back of the iPhone 12 mini below the camera, and on other models, it's a bit smaller.
If you've only seen the MagSafe Battery Pack through Apple's marketing photos, you might be surprised at the size. It's thicker than you might have thought, coming in at 11mm. For comparison's sake, an iPhone 12 is 7.4mm thick, so it's adding another iPhone in thickness and then some. As for weight, it's about 115 grams, or a quarter of a pound. An iPhone 12 weighs 164 grams, so it's not quite as heavy as an iPhone.
We thought the MagSafe Battery Pack might be made of the same soft silicone material as Apple's previous battery cases when it was first announced, but it's not. It's constructed from a hard, white plastic. That's a plus because it's unlikely to get dirty and attract dust and lint, but it may show scuffs and scratches, and it's a bit slippery.
Right now, the MagSafe Battery Pack only comes in white, and it's not clear if Apple will release other color options in the future. Attached to an iPhone, the MagSafe Battery Pack stays in place thanks to a strong magnet. If you shake your phone, it's unaffected, but it slides right off if you push it to the side, so some caution will be needed sticking it in a pocket.
The MagSafe Battery Pack has a 11.13Wh battery capacity, which for most of the iPhone 12 models, will be a partial charge. The iPhone 12, for comparison, has a 10.78Wh battery, but wireless charging is not particularly efficient and there is power loss to deal with.
Charging performance can be impacted by a number of factors like ambient heat and whether or not the iPhone heats up when charging. Because of heat issues, the MagSafe Battery Pack charges an iPhone at just 5W while on the go.
If you plug in the MagSafe Battery Pack using a Lightning cable and a 20W+ power adapter, it can charge the iPhone at up to 15W while also charging itself, and this is the first Apple accessory to offer reverse wireless charging. You can plug a Lightning cable into an iPhone 12 model and attach the MagSafe Battery Pack and charge the two devices that way, too.
There's no major benefit to doing this, unless you're plugged into a Mac or another device and getting power that way. It's a nice feature to have if you need it. It's worth noting that the MagSafe Battery Pack has to be charged using a Lightning cable (or the iPhone) -- it does not support charging through a MagSafe Charger.
The MagSafe Battery Pack can be used to charge the AirPods and other Qi-based devices like older iPhones, just without the magnetic functionality. It does not charge the Apple Watch because the Apple Watch doesn't support Qi. You can use a case, but it needs to be a MagSafe case, and other accessories like the MagSafe Wallet need to be removed for the Battery Pack.
iOS 14.7 added support for the MagSafe Battery Pack, and the update is required to use it. If you have iOS 15 installed, the MagSafe Battery Pack is not yet supported and it does not work properly. The MagSafe charging animation pops up when attaching the MagSafe Battery Pack, and you can see charge level using the Batteries widget.
All in all, this isn't a bad accessory if you have an iPhone 12 and want a no-hassle charging option, and it's especially useful for the iPhone 12 mini, which has the shortest battery life of all the iPhones. That said, $99 is expensive, and you can get a much bigger battery pack for that price if you don't mind losing the wireless charging and the MagSafe functionality.
Do you have the MagSafe Battery Pack? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.