A Better MagSafe Charger

Some thoughts and ideas on how it can improve

Constantin Stan
Dec 28, 2020 · 5 min read
MagSafe Chargers.
MagSafe Chargers.

MagSafe is one of the new things that Apple unveiled with its iPhone 12 line-up in late 2020.

This technology created a special category of accessories from Apple or third-party manufacturers. This is how we got the iPhone MagSafe Charger, wallets, the colorful cases, car mounts, and many others.

The MagSafe Charger is one of the new accessories from Apple that uses this "innovative" technology.

I have the charger for more than a week. Using it wasn't disappointing but it could be better.

The charger just snaps firmly in place and it works. Although it charges slower than the lightning cable, it is more convenient to just snap and charge, rather than plug-in and out the cable connector.

If you use an Apple power brick of 20W (that comes out of the pocket, and not out of the box), or similar, you'll get the maximum 15W power. Otherwise, you'll get less. Even if you use a standard Apple MacBook 61W charger the MagSafe Charger will get around 10W top as far as I've seen in some tests.

It also seems that the MagSafe wireless charging is very sensitive to the temperature and it works best without any case on (this way your iPhone stays cooler).

If you have the phone cable plugged-in and the wireless charger attached the phone will use the fastest method of charging and that is the cable.

So, my list of things that Apple could or can do better with their charger is:

1.Have a lightning connector placed directly on the MagSafe Charger.

This would do more for their green initiative (A planet-sized plan). It would also allow users to swap broken cables for this charger. If one of my cats chews on the cable, that means buying another MagSafe Charger and recycling the broken one. Apple could save big on cables as well. They already gave away a "free" cable with the iPhones, so no cable is needed in the box with the charger. Also, the transport footprint for the chargers would drop a lot with this change.

An animated MagSafe Charger connecting and disconnecting with a Lightning cable
An animated MagSafe Charger connecting and disconnecting with a Lightning cable
A MagSafe Charger with Lightning connector.

2. Instead of having a lightning connector, have a USB-C connector on the MagSafe Charger. Or how about having both connectors?

This would allow consumers to charge their iPhones with a USB-C cable only. Or use a lightning cable if both connectors would be available. Still, no cable needs to be provided in the box of the charger.

An animation of a MagSafe Charger connecting and disconnecting with both USB-C and Lightning connectors.
An animation of a MagSafe Charger connecting and disconnecting with both USB-C and Lightning connectors.
A MagSafe Charger with both USB-C and Lightning connectors.

3. Have a rubberized texture on the back (similar to what it has on the front, but maybe a bit grippier).

Often, after I attach the charger I place the phone on the desk on some inclined surfaces. One of those surfaces is the MacBook laptop that stands on a cooler. Sometimes the phone decides is time to slide off and the only way to go is down. iPhones are not happy to take a tumble and a rubberized texture on the back similar to what it has on the front, but maybe a bit grippier would make this a better product.

Front and back of a MagSafe Charger that provides improved grip on inclined surfaces.
Front and back of a MagSafe Charger that provides improved grip on inclined surfaces.
Front and back of a MagSafe Charger that provides improved grip on inclined surfaces.

4. Charge on any side. No matter how you connect it to the phone.

Sometimes I need to physically flip the charger to get it to connect to the phone because it was left face down on the desk. It would save a lot of time to just snap no matter what side it was left on.

5. Dual charging capability. 1 MagSafe charger, charging 2 iPhones. At the same time.

If we're at making the back look like the front while not have this charger charge 2 phones at the same time. This will make some households very happy (and also the planet). It will look like an iPhones sandwich and a charger. An idea here is to allow 1 iPhone charge another and this MagSafe charger to be a medium of power transfer. The greener alternative is to strip the charger completely out of the equation and let the phones touch each other. Anyway, we've seen in 2020 that keeping a distance is sometimes good.

An animation of MagSafe Duo charging 2 iPhones at the same time.
An animation of MagSafe Duo charging 2 iPhones at the same time.
MagSafe Duo. It is not a thing. Yet.

The last 2 points might be harder to achieve from a perspective of physics, but hey, this is Apple and they're good at making things look and work "like magic".

I've been playing with magnetically powered cases for a long time and things that just snap. Around the MacBook Pro, MagSafe can put the laptop to sleep (the charger or the iPhone itself). The sensor is somewhere top left side of the keyboard and it is a bad example of how magic can be ruined. Also, you should keep the phone away from anything that can lose data in the presence of magnets (cards, classic hard drives, tapes, etc.).

There are some good notes with the current charger. One is that with the MagSafe charger attached, the iPhone 12 Pro Max is easier to handle.

Also, when the phone lays face up on the table is easier to pick-up, because it seems that it floats mid-air, 5 mm above the surface it sits on.

In the future, I'd love to have the charger integrated into a MacBook Pro. This way I could use my laptop as a charging mat. I don't see why that is not doable considering that the new M1 chips leave around a lot of space inside the laptop shell and plenty of battery to spare (as far as I've heard).

Image for post
Image for post
Mac Mini with integrated MagSafe. Could charge your iPhone, iPods, or anything with wireless charging.

Also, you could have a charging mat on-top of your Mac Mini. How about that? The MagSafe Charger will be only a pass-through accessory and helps your phone to float above your Mac without touching it.

There is an obvious lack of data transfer capability while the wireless charging is taking place. That could be integrated inside the charger itself using some ultra-fast surface to surface wireless connection or using the classic Bluetooth and some smart pairing when your Mac detects the MagSafe charger and an iPhone attached to it. I think the second solution would be more realistic. For now, data transfer can be done using a good old cable or a Bluetooth connection.

Hope you enjoyed the read. If you have other ideas on this little charger, other than its uselessness and at the same time usefulness, please feel free to comment.

Tha(nk|t’)s all!

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