How Wireless Charging Works on Macs and iPhone


MagSafe is a technology created by Apple so that chargers can be connected to an iPhone, Mac or AirPods case via magnets. MagSafe can also attach accessories like cases, wallets, and external batteries to your iPhone.

We discuss how MagSafe works, its different versions, which devices support the technology, and how it can replace even Apple’s proprietary connectors.

What is MagSafe technology?

MagSafe is an Apple technology that uses magnetic properties to connect cables and chargers to your devices. The company registered the name MagSafe as a trademark to highlight the technology in its products.

The first version of MagSafe appeared in 2006 to connect power cables to the then-new MacBook Pro. Thinner versions of the connector were presented in 2012 and 2021. In 2020, the technology reached the iPhone to allow accessories to be attached to the device.

How does the MagSafe cable work on Macs?

Apple introduced MagSafe in 2006 as a power supply connector that magnetically attaches to the Macbook Pro released the same year. The connector consists of five pins for the power supply, whose voltages vary from 14.5 V to 20 V, depending on the power supplied by the source.

The main benefit of connecting with magnets over standards such as the USB-C connector is that MagSafe detaches when pulled with a little force, which prevents the equipment from falling if someone trips on the cable or accidentally pulls it. The MagSafe connector also allows for docking from any side.

The MagSafe 2 (2012) and MagSafe 3 (2021) connectors are smaller compared to the first version but maintain their flat shape, five-pin configuration and magnetic connection that allows them to fit in any orientation.

What are the MagSafe connector versions for Macs?

MagSafe 1, 2 and 3 connectors (image: reproduction/ByteCable)

Apple has developed three versions of MagSafe for the MacBook line. They all consist of a magnetic connector for electrical supply, but there are differences in the physical dimensions and shape of the components.

MagSafe 1 (2006)

MagSafe 1 debuted with the 2006 MacBook Pro. The original connector had a rectangular shape and a ‘T’ shaped base, but Apple also introduced a connector with an ‘L’ design to keep the cable flush with the side of the MacBook. In both cases, the connector can be fitted in any orientation.

The connectors also have LEDs that turn orange when recharging is in progress and green when the battery is fully charged.

Apple implemented MagSafe 1 in MacBook Pro units released between 2006 and mid-2012. The technology was also used in the MacBook line between 2006 and 2011 and in the MacBook Air line between 2008 and 2011. Apple LED Cinema Display monitors (2008 to 2010) and Thunderbolt Display (2011 to 2016) were also supported.

MagSafe 2 (2012)

MagSafe 2 (2012)

MagSafe 2 is a magnetic connector with a thinner and wider shape compared to the original standard. The change, introduced in 2012, allowed the technology to be implemented in MacBooks with reduced thickness. The version maintains LEDs to indicate complete battery recharging (green) and in progress (orange).

MagSafe 2 is found in the MacBook Pro line with Retina display launched between 2012 and 2015, and in the MacBook Air models from 2012 to 2017. In all of them, the base of the connector is ‘T’ shaped, with the format option no longer available. of ‘L’.

MagSafe 3 (2021)

MagSafe 3 (2021)

MagSafe 3 appeared in 2021, alongside the MacBook Pro line with Apple Silicon processors. The magnetic plug is slightly thinner and wider than its predecessor and has rounder sides. The status LED continues to turn green for a full battery and orange for charging in progress.

In this version, the cable can be detached from the charger, allowing it to be exchanged. One end has a MagSafe 3 connector, the other a USB-C connector. MacBook Air and Pro released in 2021 are compatible with the version.

How does MagSafe charging work on iPhones and AirPods?

Wireless recharge via MagSafe on iPhone (image: reproduction/Apple)
Wireless recharge via MagSafe on iPhone (image: Apple)

Apple introduced MagSafe on the iPhone 12 line in 2020. The technology is implemented through overlapping, ring-shaped components positioned internally on the back of the device. These components include magnets that allow accessories such as wallets and cases to be attached to the iPhone.

You can also use MagSafe to recharge the iPhone via magnetic induction, including via the Qi standard at rates of up to 15 W. In this case, the charging base is precisely positioned on the phone due to magnetic alignment. Because of this, MagSafe will be part of Qi2 technology, a version with more performance.

In 2021, Apple introduced MagSafe technology to third-generation AirPods and AirPods Pro cases to enable wireless charging. With this, simply fit the case onto the base for the procedure to begin. The magnets inside the case make the fixing position precise.

Which iPhones support MagSafe?

All iPhones from the 12 series onwards support MagSafe. The list of models supporting Apple’s magnetic technology includes:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 Mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 13
  • iPhone 13 Mini
  • iPhone 13 Pro
  • iPhone 13 Pro Max
  • iPhone 14
  • iPhone 14 Plus
  • iPhone 14 Pro
  • iPhone 14 Pro Max
  • iPhone 15
  • iPhone 15 Plus
  • iPhone 15 Pro
  • iPhone 15 Pro Max

Can I use an induction charger without MagSafe on my iPhone?

iPhones with MagSafe can be powered with induction chargers that don’t support the technology, but these models tend to run at lower power and current. If the accessory is not MFi certified, it cannot offer more than 7.5 W, while chargers with MagSafe reach 15 W.

Can I charge an Apple Watch with MagSafe?

No. Apple Watch does not support the MagSafe standard. You can charge the watch with the MagSafe Duo Charger, an accessory that has a MagSafe charging base for the iPhone and a base for the Apple Watch that works via induction, but with a specific technology for the line.

Apple Watch models do not even work with chargers based on the Qi standard, which forces users to look for exclusive accessories for the watch.

What is the difference between MagSafe and a wireless charger?

MagSafe is a standard that uses magnetic properties to allow power connectors to be connected to MacBooks and accessories to be attached to iPhone 12 or later. A wireless charger transmits power to devices such as phones with wireless charging.

What is the difference between MagSafe and Qi standards?

MagSafe is a technology that uses magnets to power MacBooks and connect accessories to iPhones. The Qi standard is an open specification that allows wireless chargers to transmit power to compatible devices, such as the iPhone itself.

What is the difference between MagSafe and Lightning charger?

A MagSafe charger has a base that attaches to the back of the iPhone 12 or later to charge via magnetic induction. A Lightning charger recharges the iPhone using a cable with a Lightning connector on one end and a USB connector on the other.

The MagSafe charger has the advantage of being more practical, as it only requires the iPhone to be positioned on it for charging to begin. The Lightning cable is capable of connecting the iPhone to fast chargers, which allows the battery to be fully recharged in less time compared to MagSafe. Read also how to know if the iPhone charger is genuine.


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