Apple has replaced its iPhone charging cases with the new Apple MagSafe Battery Pack. It's a pocket-sized power brick that snaps onto any iPhone 12 model, and is basically meant to make sure your iPhone stays charged even through a long day.
But at $99 the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack is far from cheap. That's more than twice as much as Anker's competitor, which also has a higher capacity. This hands-on Apple MagSafe Battery Pack review will explain what you get in exchange for that difference, and my initial impressions of the pack.
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Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Price and release date
The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack costs $99 and is available on Apple.com and Amazon. That's a pretty mountain of pennies, especially when compared to the higher-capacity Anker Magnetic 5K pack costs $45.
Apple announced the MagSafe Battery Pack on July 13, 2021, and the release date was July 19.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Compatibility
The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack snaps right onto the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max. For my testing, I've used it with my iPhone 12 Pro Max.
The MagSafe Battery Pack can also charge the Qi-enabled AirPods Pro and AirPods via their cases.
This means it's primarily for those with the latest iPhone, and those who will buy upcoming iPhones, such as the iPhone 13 (which is expected to still have MagSafe).
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Design
The Apple MagSafe Battery Pack is made so simply that I can't even feel annoyed with Apple for not including anything close to an instruction manual. It's a thin, matte white rectangle with rounded corners on the outer side.
In my hand, the MagSafe Battery Pack feels a little bulky, but I've gotten used to it in the last 24 hours. More importantly, it doesn't warm up noticeably in my pocket. And compared to using my iPhone with a portable charger, it's a lot more sleek and seamless.
On the inner side, the battery pack offers a soft-touch gray surface with a white ring to indicate the MagSafe connection. (You're going to want to aim that for the Apple logo on your phone.) Finished with a gray Apple logo on the outer side, The MagSafe Battery Pack has achieved almost the platonic ideal of Apple's minimalist aesthetic.
The MagSafe Battery Pack measures 3.7 x 2.5 x 0.4 inches and weighs 4 ounces, making it 33% thinner (and a tad lighter) than the Anker PowerCore Magnetic 5K (3.7 x 2.5 x 0.6 inches, 4.6 ounces).
Apple's accessory features one Lightning port, which is the primary way to charge it. You can also charge the MagSafe Battery Pack from a Qi-based power charger.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: How it works
As simple as it gets, the MagSafe Battery Pack snaps onto the back of an iPhone 12 (and, as I mentioned, all upcoming MagSafe iPhones), and just starts charging immediately. It's delivering juice via a very slow 5W rate.
After snapping it on, you'll then see your phone's current battery charge amount on your screen, plus the percentage of remaining battery life in the MagSafe pack. The MagSafe pack's charge amount will appear in the Batteries widget.
The magnetic connection of the MagSafe Battery Pack is acceptable when you're using it snapped on the back of an iPhone 12. That said, when I was using it, I kept thinking "it could be tighter," as it was a teeny bit looser than I'd like. I was excited to figure out that the strength of the magnetic connection increases when you've got a MagSafe phone case in between the iPhone and the battery pack.
When you connect a lightning cable to the battery pack and to a power source, you'll get 15W charging, and you can get faster rates with a 20W power adapter.
This means, essentially, that you're going to be keeping your iPhone afloat when it's got a charge. This isn't the kind of recharging speed for those trying to bring a dead iPhone back to 100% or close to that.
You can also refuel wirelessly-charging AirPods cases by placing them on the MagSafe Battery Pack's magnetic side. It doesn't snap on, but it works either way.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Battery Life
Herein lies the biggest potential flaw of the MagSafe Battery Pack. Apple doesn't make any claims of how long it will extend the life of your iPhone 12. That may be because such data varies by model, but a range of battery life would have been nice.
Teardowns have revealed the MagSafe Battery Pack has a capacity of 1,460mAh. That's less than 30% of the 5,000mAh Anker Magnetic 5K.
Based on how fast the MagSafe Battery Pack emptied, though, we're guessing any claim might not have been that long. In the morning, I attached the two when both were charged, and by 4:30 p.m. I was at 16% on the MagSafe Battery Pack with the iPhone still at 89%. Normally, my iPhone would be much lower, probably in the 40-50% range.
Apple MagSafe Battery Pack: Outlook
As I've noted in this hands-on Apple MagSafe Battery Pack review, Apple's accessory comes with a lot less battery life than Anker's competing brick, and it's nearly twice as expensive. So, why would you buy this thing (which I did)?
Primarily, you'd buy the MagSafe Battery Pack because there's a general assurance that Apple-made accessories may work better with the iPhone. You see that born out by the integration with the Batteries widget, and the home screen as well. It's also got a thinner design, as well.
I look forward to reporting back once I've had more time with the Apple MagSafe Battery Pack, which I expect I'll use all-day long on my upcoming trip to Las Vegas.