Apple resurrects MagSafe as snap-on iPhone accessory system

Apple’s beloved MagSafe branding made its return at today’s “Hi, Time” Apple event. And, if it’s not quite like it was before, isn’t that the same as every single story about something being brought back from the beyond?

The new, different version of MagSafe will allow users to snap on accessories to the back of their iPhones. Think wallets, cases, and — in a new move for Apple — its first official wireless charging pads for iPhone.

Announced at Tuesday’s event, the new MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Duo wireless chargers are Apple’s first official wireless charging pads for iPhone. The MagSafe Charger wirelessly charges iPhones, while the MagSafe Duo can also support Apple Watch; providing both with up to 15 watts of power.

Apple’s previous only official charging pad was a Magnetic Charging Dock for Apple Watch, which Apple released in 2015.

Apple’s most infamous entry into wireless charging, however, was a charging pad that it didn’t produce. Back in 2017, Apple announced its AirPower wireless charger in 2017. It was supposed to ship in 2018, but Apple wound up cancelling the previously announced project (one of the only times in Apple history that this has happened) in early 2019 after it ran into one too many technical difficulties.

The wireless charger Apple showed off today is a bit more humble than the AirPower charging pad. Rather than being able to charge up to three devices simultaneously, it can charge up to two in the case of the MagSafe Duo Charger. Apple said that Belkin is also working on its own third-party chargers.

Duo Charger image
Making up for the sins of AirPower.
Photo: Apple

It’s all about MagSafe

Apple’s resurrection of MagSafe was one of the most pleasant surprises of today’s event. Apple introduced its MagSafe magnetic power cord for MacBooks in 2006, replacing the previous coxial power connector. One of Apple’s most satisfying ever creations, the MagSafe power connector was held in place magnetically. If a person tripped over the cord, it would disengage without pulling the computer off its surface. Apple ditched MagSafe in 2016, replacing it with USB-C for newer MacBooks.

It brought it back for the iPhones at Tuesday’s event — albeit in the modified form of MagSafe for iPhone. By incorporating magnets into the body of Apple’s new iPhones, accessories can easily snap into place on the back. In the case of the MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Duo Charger, this will ensure that your iPhone is properly aligned when you put it onto charge. But, as Apple showed off today, it also opens up a whole new potential ecosystem of non-charging accessories. We’re excited to see what Apple (and others) can come up with.