The big picture: Everyone is excited about the new 5G-enabled iPhone 12 and the incredibly compact iPhone 12 mini, but Apple is also bringing back a brand that its fans have missed -- MagSafe. The Cupertino giant unveiled two MagSafe-branded wireless chargers today, alongside a slew of companion iPhone cases.
Apple may have canceled AirPower, but it did reveal two new wireless chargers today for its iPhone 12 lineup that also mark the return of the beloved MagSafe branding that was initially given to magnetic MacBook charging cables. Apple phased out the technology beginning with the 12-inch MacBook in 2015, and all 2016 and newer MacBook Pro models omit the feature as they only feature USB-C ports.
As their names imply, the MagSafe Charger is for people who only need to charge their iPhone, while the MagSafe Duo is a combo folding charger for people who want to charge an iPhone and an Apple Watch at the same time. Both are designed to work in conjunction with the more complex wireless charging system on the iPhone 12, which tries to alleviate some of the technology's efficiency issues using a magnet array and a nanocrystalline shield.
Accompanying the chargers is a series of new leather, silicone, wallet, and clear iPhone cases and stands that feature a ring of magnets that align the device correctly. This should make it very easy to avoid the common problem that plagues most wireless chargers today -- you need to fiddle with positioning or risk the device charging very slowly, if at all.
The MagSafe chargers are also compatible with existing Qi-enabled devices on the market, and Apple says they can deliver up to 15 watts of power output. Coupled with the magnetic alignment system, users can charge the new iPhone 12 faster and more efficiently. It won't be as efficient as a wired charger, but at least the convenience it brings will now have a lower cost on the electricity bill and, by extent, a lower environmental impact.
The new chargers were announced just as Apple decided to drop the wall charger from the iPhone 12 box. The company says this will help save 2 million metric tons of carbon per year and cut down on e-waste and packaging material. That said, this won't prevent an impending wave of criticism that Apple is pinching pennies and encouraging fans to buy its new and shiny wireless chargers.
Apple hasn't said anything about when the new chargers will become available, but some of the new MagSafe-branded accessories have appeared in a dedicated section on its online store. Belkin is confirmed to be one of many partners developing accessories of their own, such as a car mount and a multi-charger dock.
As for how much they'll cost, the regular MagSafe charger will cost $39 while the iPhone cases will set you back $49 regardless of model and color -- except for the Leather Wallet, which is $59. Apple has yet to announce the pricing of the Leather Sleeve and MagSafe Duo.