Do not get me wrong. There are a lot of accessory developers who make cases, wallets, car racks, desk racks and even magnetic Qi chargers and batteries that to work With MagSafe – but almost no actual MagSafe accessories.
And that’s a big difference because Apple designed the MagSafe standard. Anyone can charge wirelessly with the iPhone 12’s Qi Charger at Apple’s standard 7.5W power. Magnets, which is a physical phenomenon, are even more common, which means device manufacturers can easily attach an iPhone 12 and a Qi charger together. (Many already have.)
But these two things alone don’t make a wireless charger a MagSafe charger; genuine, Apple-approved MagSafe chargers offer a charging speed that is twice as fast, up to 15 W. And it’s only available with a handful of accessories: Apple’s official charging cable, Apple MagSafe Duo charger, Apple’s official MagSafe battery (even when connected to AC power) and a dear couple Belkin is standing.
In theory, there is no reason for Apple is limits the 15 W charge to official MagSafe chargers. There are several Qi chargers available that offer a charging speed of 15 W and work with numerous devices. Some of them are even made by Apple’s MagSafe-certified partners, leading to awkward product ranges where some MagSafe compatible 15 W chargers sit side by side on a website identical-looking 7.5 W MagSafe-compatible wireless chargers which does not charge your phone so fast.
The reason seems simple: Apple hasn’t really given anyone else make more MagSafe chargers. By ChargerLab -the site that focuses on wireless charging and provides a unit for Apple MagSafe modules-Apple only allows the construction of MagSafe chargers using MFi-approved module.
Like the Apple Watch charger (and to some extent also the lighting cables), Apple works with the factories to provide basic components here that developers can integrate into the charging station or rack. Technically, there is not much difference in providing space for a MagSafe cable compared to an integrated module; the advantage is largely size and price, allowing the use of accessories that are smaller, cheaper, and more comfortable than today’s cumbersome, combined options.
But most importantly, the company only announced that it would offer modules June 22, nearly nine months after the release of the iPhone 12. It was only after that that the hardware developers were able to retrieve samples and retrieve the actual MagSafe products (which probably takes even more time), after which the accessories were manufactured and delivered, which can take months on their own.
It’s a similar schedule we’ve seen with other Apple chargers. Apple did not offer developers the opportunity to build their own integrated Apple Watch Products until July 2015, four months after the Watch came on the market, and it lasted almost a year after that until the first third-party products arrived with the built-in charger. These products have proven to be great options for consumers and offer features that Apple does not have, such as integration with other wireless charging platforms, detachable cables, or a built-in power bank. But because Apple’s system works, it took months for them to arrive.
Or take USB-C to Lightning cables, where Apple started selling first their own models in the fall of 2016 – but opened the gates only for developers in December 2018, and the first cables appeared after a few months from the beginning of 2019.
Every time this slow launch has had direct consequences: a lack of diversity and competition in the products purchased. Apple’s virtual monopoly on accessories in the first few months or years means customers have fewer — and even worse — options for their new iPhones.
There is still no MagSafe car racks which charges the iPhone 12 at full speed, even a year after its release – perhaps the most dazzling use of MagSafe. The nearest Apple-approved accessory is a magnetic car holder which only lasts (but does not charge) your phone. And if you want a MagSafe charger for your desktop or nightstand that supports your iPhone, you can wider bypasses who demand threading through an existing cable purchased by Apple (or Belkin’s two options, which are usually even more expensive). Apple spent most of the year not allowing developers to build their own products, but also didn’t seek to build anything alone to fill those niches.
And while developers may try to keep up with Apple, like Anchor MagSafe compatible battery, they will not play on a flat field without access to the MagSafe modules specified by Apple. Forget about Apple’s software enhancements that make its MagSafe battery more useful than a third-party option: at the moment, Apple’s packaging is the only one that can even charge iPhone at full speed, and even then only when connected to certain adapters and capable cables. It is an area where competition can lead to better products.
Maybe a third party can come up with a way to offer a full-speed charge on a battery that Apple didn’t, or simply offer things with a cheaper or larger battery than Apple’s packaging.
This, of course, assumes that Apple will even allow competitors to make officially approved MagSafe batteries. The company’s MFi program means developers have to get their own Apple approved hardware and build using Apple-approved parts from Apple-approved factories. (Of course, Apple also gets paid for each product.) And if the company doesn’t like design, it can simply withhold the seal of approval and necessary parts.
Of course, Apple’s own chargers are nothing new, and while the current MagSafe license feels slow, it’s better than before. The original iteration of MagSafe on laptops was not licensed to third parties at all: if you wanted a spare charger or to charge your Mac from an external battery, you were pretty lucky.
The best-known example of this is accessory maker Sanho, which is known for buying $ 79 MagSafe chargers, disassembling them, and using the original cable to allow Mac owners to charge their computers. HyperMac batteries. Apple then sued Sanho, which had to come up with a workaround that encouraged customers to buy their own chargers and change the cables yourself.
But after a year, it’s hard to feel that MagSafe hasn’t missed an opportunity for Apple. When the iPhone 12 was first released, MagSafe showed the company a way to build an ecosystem clickable modular accessories, the kind of thing Motorola had tried and failed to achieve with the Moto Mods system. There was visions of a portless iPhone who can rely on MagSafe exclusively for charging and connecting to external devices.
But instead of its successful new accessory ecosystem, Apple has left us with virtually a handful of cables designed by Apple. It makes Apple’s magnetic standard look less like a stepless future and more than another brick from Apple’s walled garden.