Apple is working on a MagSafe-compatible battery pack for the iPhone 12, which unlike prior Smart Battery Cases for earlier iPhones, will attach to the iPhone 12 models with magnets.
The battery pack will be easy to pop on and off the iPhone, and because it will be easily removable, it won't be as bulky or as awkward as prior Apple-designed battery options. The MagSafe battery pack isn't out yet, but this guide covers everything we've heard about it so far.
Signs of a MagSafe battery pack were first spotted in code in the iOS 14.5 beta, which had a reference to an unannounced "battery pack." The name was notable because there is no current product that Apple calls a battery pack, as prior Apple-designed battery options were referred to as Smart Battery Cases.
After code was found in the beta, Bloomberg confirmed Apple's work on a MagSafe battery pack, which has reportedly been in development for at least a year.
The MagSafe battery pack attaches to the back of an iPhone, and some of the prototypes have featured a white rubber exterior.
Previous Smart Battery Cases have been available in white, along with black and blush pink, so we could see some of the same color options with the MagSafe battery pack. It's likely that the MagSafe battery pack will have a silicone coating similar to Apple's silicone iPhone cases.
There's no word yet on what size the battery pack will be nor how thick it will be, but again, the Smart Battery Case perhaps gives some clues.
All of the Smart Battery Cases had a hump on the back where the battery was housed, so we could see the MagSafe battery pack work in the same way and it could be the same approximate size as the Leather Wallet attachment, another MagSafe accessory that goes on the back of a MagSafe iPhone.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has extensively tested the magnetic strength of the MagSafe battery pack to make sure that it stays firmly in place when charging.
A MagSafe battery pack would perhaps charge the iPhone 12 models at the same speed as a standard MagSafe charger, though that's not guaranteed and the charging could be slower because of the lack of a power adapter. The MagSafe charger charges the iPhone 12, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max at a maximum of 15W, and the iPhone 12 mini at a maximum of 12W, but that charging speed may not be necessary for a battery pack that stays attached to the back of the phone while you're on the go.
Apple has been working on the MagSafe battery pack since before the iPhone 12 models launched, but Apple has run into software issues that have delayed the accessory's launch.
Apple is trying to solve an issue that causes the iPhone to erroneously report that the battery pack is overheating, and there are also problems when a user switches between using the MagSafe battery pack when a case is attached and when the case is removed.
That there are problems may not come as a surprise to those who have owned Apple's previous Smart Battery Cases because there have been issues with some of them. Apple in 2020 launched a replacement program for Smart Battery Cases designed for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR, as some of these cases were experiencing charging issues.
Leaker Jon Prosser, who has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting Apple's plans, says that there will be two versions of the the MagSafe battery pack, one of which will feature feature "reverse charging."
It's not clear what "reverse charging" means in this context. It may be able to charge more than one device at a time, such as charging the iPhone and the AirPods at one time, or it could refer to the iPhone being able to charge the battery pack when plugged into a Lightning cable.
Other companies are developing MagSafe-compatible battery pack options. Anker, for example, has introduced the PowerCore Magnetic 5K Wireless Power Bank, which is designed to adhere to the back of a MagSafe iPhone using the magnetic connection.
Anker's Magnetic PowerCore Power Bank is not designed using Apple's official MagSafe system and is only able to charge an iPhone at a maximum of 5W.
Because of the development issues that Apple has run into, it is not clear when the MagSafe battery pack will be released, and Bloomberg has said that there's a chance it could ultimately be delayed or canceled.