First impressions: Apple’s MagSafe battery pack isn’t perfect, but you’ll probably still want to get one

When Apple first unveiled the iPhone 12 and MagSafe back in October, it immediately hit me that the perfect use case was for battery packs. Finally, nine months later, an official Apple MagSafe battery pack is here. We’ve got our hands on one and have plenty of thoughts to share.

Design and finish

First and foremost, the battery pack isn’t silicone like Apple’s previous smart battery cases. It’s a soft-touch plastic that feels unlike any other existing Apple product. In fact, it feels almost like the inside of the original 2006 white MacBook. The white soft-touch plastic is also an entirely different shade of white than Apple’s white silicone case. It’s much lighter and much more explicitly white. So if you were planning on using the MagSafe battery pack with a white MagSafe case, just know that they don’t quite match. It won’t look as seamless as the old white smart battery cases.

iPhone 11 Pro Max Smart Battery Case next to the iPhone MagSafe Battery Pack

The battery pack itself is thicker than the iPhone 12 inside of a MagSafe silicone case. It’s pretty chunky. It’s also fairly heavy and certainly adds a bunch of weight to your light iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 mini. It certainly will make the stainless steel pro models feel even heavier than they already do. But keep in mind that this battery pack is easily removable — that’s the main benefit of MagSafe. Unlike the old battery cases, you can keep a case on and remove the battery when you don’t want the extra weight.

Bottom of the MagSafe Battery Pack

On the other side of the battery pack, there’s a smooth silicone gray pad that prevents the back of your iPhone from getting scratched up. On the bottom of the battery pack, there’s a lightning connector that lets you charge the battery on its own or charge both your iPhone and the battery pack together. There’s also a small LED next to the connector like the one on the AirPods charging case that indicates the power status.

The MagSafe battery pack fits nicely on the back of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Max sizes, but it can feel a bit awkward because of how thick it is. On the iPhone 12 mini, though, it feels more natural. This is because the MagSafe battery pack is just as wide as the iPhone 12 mini, so it feels flush with the case. One concern I have is that you can see the thin white edges sticking out from the front of the iPhone 12 mini. This is because the magnets let the pack shift around a bit.

Charging

The MagSafe battery pack snaps right onto the back of your iPhone 12 like the MagSafe wallet, although the magnets are significantly stronger. While charging both the battery pack and the iPhone together, you can feel the battery get warm. This shouldn’t be surprising given that the battery is using Qi charging coils.

When the battery is connected to an iPhone, you can connect a lightning charger directly to the battery, or you can plug it into the iPhone. As we’ve written about, when you plug your lightning connector into your iPhone, you can use it to wirelessly charge the battery pack in reverse.

Charging AirPods on the MagSafe battery pack

Since the MagSafe battery pack is basically just a Qi charger with magnets, it can charge any other Qi-compatible device. For example, you can plop your AirPods or AirPods Pro on the MagSafe battery pack if you remove it from your iPhone. Technically you could also charge Android phones, older Qi-compatible iPhones, and other wireless earbuds with Qi charging cases. This is a really great bonus that comes with the battery being easily removable.

Software

The MagSafe battery pack integrates with iOS 14.7, so you’ll see its charge in the battery widget and on the Lock Screen. Unfortunately, iOS 15 beta 3 doesn’t include the necessary components to show the battery pack’s status. Hopefully, we’ll get beta 4 soon. In the meantime, you can see what the MagSafe battery pack looks like in the battery widget below from an image on Apple’s website.

When charging your AirPods on the MagSafe battery pack, you’ll see their charge status in the battery widget as well. This is expected behavior, of course, since they already do that when on another Qi charger.

More

The MagSafe battery pack is far from perfect. It’s thick, and it’s heavy, but it provides necessary utility. This is an Apple product that absolutely tackles function first and form second. There are surely plenty of reasons behind Apple’s decisions with this accessory, particularly due to limitations and safety concerns that come with Qi technology. The battery itself weighs about a quarter of a pound, so it’s not particularly light. It’s 2.5″ x 3.75″ and just under half an inch thick.

MagSafe battery pack and box

Lots of folks were wondering if the MagSafe battery pack would work when you have a case on your iPhone. The answer is yes! At the moment, we’ve only been able to test the MagSafe battery pack with Apple’s first-party cases or approved third-party MagSafe cases. It likely won’t work well with cases that aren’t Apple-approved.

If you charge your iPhone using an iPad Air or iPad Pro, keep in mind that you cannot charge it when the MagSafe battery pack is connected. You can charge them separately, but not together.

In terms of battery capacity, we expect that the MagSafe pack can recharge an iPhone 12 mini entirely while it can likely recharge the other three models enough to save you in a pinch. We’ll be back in a few days to let you know how the battery performs, but it’s too early to tell.

Conclusion

The MagSafe battery pack is available for pick up at Apple retail stores starting today for $99. You can also order one online and have it shipped to your home. The battery pack is available in one color, white. So you can’t pick one up to match your red or black MagSafe cases.

Are you picking up a MagSafe battery pack for your iPhone 12? Let us know in the comments below!

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